The annual trade figures have made apparent the cost of loadshedding. Pakistan has missed the target of $26 billion in exports for 2011-2012, with exports of only $23.64 billion, with the shortfall being caused in no small part by the menace of loadshedding. It has led to the inability of the textile industry to fill many export orders, and thus to the fall-off in exports, which went down almost 4 percent from $24.81 billion in the preceding financial year, 2010-2011. Apart from loadshedding, there is also the war on terror acting as a barrier, with foreign investment having gone down 65 percent in the last financial year. Pakistan’s sufferings because of the war on terror are not addressed by the APTMA call for textile mills to be exempted from loadshedding, but that organization has addressed an important cause of declining exports. APTMA has noted that the extension of loadshedding has been to mills on independent feeders, consuming a total of 1500MW, so that loadshedding of six hours a day, which has also caused a shift to be sacked, saves 375MW.

It is the time for APTMA members, as well as other exporters, to consider the cost of shortage, and to seek out other means of increasing national electricity generation. While it is true that the Kalabagh Dam would not end the present loadshedding, it is also true that there would be no difficulty in extending that exemption, because the load saved would be less than one of the units of the Kalabagh Dam. The level of commitment of APTMA would be seen if it was to show that it was committed to the building of projects which would help solve the power shortage crisis, and thus solve one of the problems that plagues Pakistan’s drive towards self-sufficiency.

It must not be forgotten that exports bulk larger because without them it would not be possible to pay the fuel bills that are not only made necessary by the desire of the people of a fuel-deficit country to move around themselves, and to move goods, on POL-fuelled vehicles, but to harness electricity for their work too. As the government is responsible, not just to ensure the supply of power to industry, but to make sure that people stay in employment, and that the country maintains a healthy balance of payments, the opposition to projects like the Kalabagh Dam, motivated from abroad and by parochial consideration, must be ended.