PTI chief Imran Khan has come out four-square in support of the Kalabagh Dam (KBD) on Monday, while addressing an election rally in Mianwali. The project is naturally popular in Mianwali district, where it will be built. As a matter of fact, it is located in the constituency from where Mr Khan was elected in 2003. The wave of support Mr Khan is riding in KPK indicates that Kalabagh gets more support among the voters of that province than they are given credit for. The reason for this support is not hard to find: people in KPK are as tired of loadshedding as any citizen of Pakistan and are as anxious as the rest to gain the protection from the floods that it offers. On top of that, KBD would store water for irrigation, water which now flows into the sea. Apart from the crippling power blackouts, there is also shortage of irrigation water because of India’s theft of water.

Mr Khan has shown the entire nation, as well as the mainstream parties, that he is not afraid to speak about things which others would prefer to keep silent about. Opponents of the KBD do not want it discussed, but would prefer it to be put on the backburner and forgotten. However, as Mr Khan wants to end loadshedding if elected, he cannot afford to ignore the project. It is to be hoped that he has ensured the inclusion of the project in the PTI manifesto. It was a surprise omission from the PML-N manifesto, as well as from the PPP’s, both of which have been made public.

Mr Khan’s statement leads to the more general wish that all parties should come out forthrightly with their stance on the issues that most closely affect the country. There must be clear and detailed statements of what policies the parties would pursue on such issues as the economy, Kashmir, energy shortages, and cooperation with the USA in its war on terror. Even if Mr Khan does not come into power, if his position helps lead to the construction of the Kalabagh Dam, his statement will have served its purpose. It is to be hoped that the major parties will learn from him, and take a clear stand on this issue as well as many others, instead of waffling. The electorate will no longer be taken in by amorphousness.