Reportedly, Mian Nawaz Sharif is visualising a drastic cut in the period of the enervating power outages within barely 30 days of his assumption of the charge as Prime Minister. Talking to a private TV channel, he said that overcoming energy crisis would be his first priority and work would be taken up on a war footing; for, higher power production would enable him to set the course of economic recovery in the right direction. Already, a high-level meeting of party leaders, businessmen and industrialists has accorded approval to the recommendations of the task force on power that he had constituted immediately on winning elections. Besides, as promised to the nation, his government would fulfil all the pledges it had made to it in order to avoid the unenviable fate the PPP met at the ballot box. The multiple points of the conclusions of the task force, though not announced by him, have found their way to the media. They include: getting rid of the circular debt by clearing it and then focusing on checking power thefts; improving the supply of gas to power stations; and gradually producing power at existing thermal stations with imported coal. The conversion of CNG outlets into LPG and petrol stations by providing incentives to the CNG station owners is also on the cards.

It is highly laudable that the PML-N leadership intends addressing a problem that holds the key to not only resuscitating the moribund economy, but also providing relief to the people in the blistering summer heat. A resurgent economy would revive the job market setting of a chain reaction to the benefit of the various spheres of the economy as well as producing goods for domestic consumption and exports.

As power generation with coal would, indeed, markedly cut down the cost of production, Mian Nawaz ought to quickly complete the ongoing hydel projects such as Ghazi Brotha, Neelam-Jhelum (969MW) and Jinnah hydropower project at Mianwali (96MW) and install the machinery for improving performance at Chichokimalian and Nandipur hydel stations. That would make it possible to rationalise the power tariff. Some strategy to retrieve 700MW of Punjab’s share of power should be devised. With Punjab and Balochistan having PML-N governments and with PTI, also favouring the construction of Kalabagh dam, in power in KPK, the task of evolving consensus for the dam appears possible. The nationalists in Sindh can be brought round by presenting facts and figures of the benefits that they and the nation as whole would enjoy by building the KBD. This short, medium and long-term policy would help ease the crisis situation.