Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has said that loadshedding has decreased because of the paying off of circular debt, with a payment of Rs 480 billion having been made. He said that a circular debt of Rs 503 billion had been inherited from the previous government, crediting the payment with putting 1700 MW into the system. The impression also is that the relief from loadshedding experienced over the weekend was, to some extent, because of widespread rain, which was not to the credit of the government, but of the monsoon. The rain not only meant an enhancement of the production of hydel electricity, but a reduction of demand, because of the consequent lowering of the mercury. Senator Dar indicated the truth when he said that the payment of the circular debt had averted a great catastrophe and also he indicated the truth, that the 1700 MW added would not fill the demand-supply gap that is at the root of the current loadshedding. It is a matter of regret that an easy solution the construction of Kalabagh Dam offered was missed, losing 4500MW of power it could have generated.

It is interesting that a study by the World Bank has said that Pakistan could control poverty if GDP growth went up to 4.5 percent from 3.2 percent. The study said that if GDP growth goes up by one percent, that goal will not be achieved. Loadshedding has meant that export orders have been cancelled, and as a result jobs have been lost. Ending loadshedding would not mean an automatic restoration of orders, but it will allow exporters to go and work to regain lost markets. That will enable the sort of growth that would enable the control of poverty, as well as the kind of ‘economic explosion’ that the present government had campaigned on.

That it sees the loadshedding problem as contributing to the economic problem, is an indication that the government has its priorities right. Its seeing that the law and order problem created by the war on terror is a barrier to investment, and thus growth, is of a piece with this. However, it is also necessary that the government and its members should make the correct analysis, not a self-serving one. If the analysis is incorrect, the government will not be able to take along the public. Skewed analyses in the past have led to the present pass, and getting out of it will require the most rigid objectivity. This is of course apart from the political will needed to make sure that the sector does not fall into the circular debt trap again.