LEAVING aside the rueful fact that a most crucial question of overcoming the energy shortage in the country has for so long been left to fester and grow into an awesome problem, which has disrupted almost every facet of life, we must welcome that at last the authorities have put their heads together to study the crisis and find ways to get out of it. It goes to the credit of Mian Shahbaz Sharif, however, who raised his voice against the discrimination Punjab was facing in getting its due share of the total pool of electricity being generated in the country, that a two-day energy conference of all chief ministers and concerned ministries was convened at Islamabad. The Prime Minister advised the participants, whom he received at the end of the conference on Tuesday, to prepare a coordinated 'national plan of action identifying measures to provide relief to the public. Mr Gilani wanted them to ensure that their proposals, to be ready by Thursday, were non-discriminatory and uniformly applicable to all regions and sectors of life. Nevertheless, according to one report, he observed that the provinces defaulting on payment and those honouring payment could not be treated on an equal footing. Details of the energy conservation measures, which were decided at the conference, have filtered out. One would expect that even if some sections of the population find certain particular measures inconvenient, they should ungrudgingly accept them in the larger national interest. In a period like this, when the countrys economy is badly suffering on account of loadshedding, there is no other option but to swallow the bitter pill and adopt a disciplined attitude. Happily, there are indications that traders, at least from Punjab, who are now observing late hours, both in opening and closing their businesses, have agreed to observe a 9am to 9pm schedule. The people in general would also have to conform to the restrictions on decorative lighting and realise the need to switch off unnecessary gadgets. Those using air-conditioners and other equipment that consume big chunks of electricity would do well to consider reducing their use, whenever possible. While the government must display the necessary will to enforce these measures among the public, irrespective of status and influence they enjoy, it is also incumbent on it to strictly monitor whether its officials are abiding by the instructions about the use of air-conditioners and lights. The money owed to power companies must be cleared to generate the capacity lying idle, estimated at 1300MW. Combined with the above measures likely to save 2400MW, it would make a good impact on economy and life in general. And if work on the IPPs in the pipeline and the proposed RPPs is expedited, the country would be out of the woods as far as the current power crisis is concerned.