The elections of 2008 and 2013 have been lost by incumbents because of load-shedding. The next government has been chosen by the electorate for its reputation for completing projects it fancies, come what may. Naturally, it expects the same to see the end of load-shedding. So deep is the penetration of the power related anger in the public at large that even a hint of the continuation of the inaction of the past may bring the government down sooner than later. Pakistan may be among the countries with the lowest consumption of energy per capita, but every power failure transmits the message of incompetence to almost all households in a split second. The vibes coming from the PML-N suggest that the Mian brothers are suffering from too much advice. The worst piece of advice was on load-shedding. Nawaz Sharif went public with describing load-shedding as problem number one. But he would not commit on a deadline. He made fun of Shahbaz Sharif for giving such deadlines. Fair enough, if he himself had not given deadlines on other issues. Why, might one ask, have a programme for the first 100 days of government? Is this laundry list even necessary? There are only three issues that deserve the fullest attention of the government in the first 100 days: load-shedding, load-shedding and net outflow of capital. For the rest, work should start on a financeable medium-term programme. By announcing the finance minister first and the energy minister afterwards, the leadership seemed indecisive about the order of priorities. By luck, some new power projects started by the previous government might mature in 1,000 days. The public understands that new supply cannot be added to the system in the immediate or near term. What is entirely possible in 100 days is to take effective measures on three counts — conservation, efficiency and, for lack of a better term, governance. Taken seriously by all and sundry, conservation alone can add upwards of 1,500MW. Efficiency or...
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