S. M. Zafar The energy crisis is a serious national issue which has not only badly affected productivity in the industrial and agricultural sectors, but has also made life miserable for the common man through long duration loadsh-edding. The issue has two dimensions. First, the government should go all out to increase power generation through WAPDA and PEPCO, besides controlling wastage in transmission. Secondly, civil society should proactively fulfil its responsibilities in creating mass awareness about how, in the given circumstances, people can best cooperate to solve their problems and also help the government is its efforts to overcome the crisis. In the last 50 years, civil society has come to play an important role all over the world in mobilising mass support for the solution of national problems. Policy planners and intellectuals are of the view that even the best national plans cannot succeed without the active support and participation of civil society. In our own country, we have seen the historic role played by civil society in the movement for the restoration of the judiciary. The power of civil society in shaping and mobilising public opinion is unquestioned. In many countries of the world I have seen how civil society through its proactive role has brought about revolutionary changes in national thinking. Here I may narrate my own experience in Malaysia. Along with my host and his grandchildren, I was having a stroll with a bottle in my hand. After finishing the drink, as is our wont, I laid the bottle against a wall. I had not yet taken a few steps when my hosts grandchildren ran down, picked up the bottle and put it in a garbage bin nearby. This episode has gone a long way to convince me how civil society can bring about a change in social behaviour. Similarly, traffic violations in civilised societies are not only taken notice of by the police, but also by members of the public, who report such incidents to the authorities concerned. In this perspective, let us discuss the role of civil society in the current power crisis. A serious issue facing us is that of power theft. A power thief not only commits a crime against society, but also compounds the problem of power shortage. Such people must know that they are themselves their worst enemies because as a part of civil society they themselves are the ultimate sufferers. It is also the duty of the neighbours to report such violations to the police, because they in fact are depriving other people of their rights. Another issue that needs attention is the use of kunda (hook) to steal power from the main line, especially during wedding ceremonies and public meetings. If anyone of the participants in these functions were to report the matter to the authorities, it can mark the beginning of a big social change. PEPCO has been carrying on a media campaign requesting consumers to save electricity. Our everyday experience shows that as evening falls all lights and fans are left switched on while leaving a room. Even after daybreak lights in porch and veranda remain on. I will request school teachers to create awareness among their students, who can play a role in controlling the unnecessary use of lights and fans in their homes. We all know how the current worldwide campaign against smoking has focused on young people. The youngsters are informed that the cigarette smoke is injurious to their health. One of my Pakistani friends living in America told me that one day when he was smoking at home, his young daughter came to him and asked him if he wanted her to die early? He was shocked and asked why she was saying this? She replied that cigarette smoke was harmful to non-smokers as well. We must change our general attitude of scepticism and cynicism towards the government. The energy conservation measure announced by the government is in our own best interest and we must follow them. Why should we not switch over to energy savers which consume less electricity? We should also cooperate with the government regarding closure of shops by 8pm and marriage halls by 10pm. It has become a painful routine for wedding functions to continue till late at night, putting guests to great hardship. This culture of waste of time should come to an end. The late night shopping habit does not leave time for social interaction. If government servants go to office at 8 am, and private employees at 9 am, and students go to their schools at 7 am, why must shopkeepers open their shops at 12 noon and close at midnight? Some 10 to 15 years ago this was not so. Indeed, there is no justification for such a wasteful custom to continue. We should revert to the old 8 am to 8 pm routine which saves both time and energy. The civil society can play its role by creating awareness among the masses not to waste and to conserve for common use what is a scarce resource. The writer is a Senator and former Federal Law Minister.