Articles of the year 2008

Just Do It
Published on January 2008

The Post-election scenario seems to be going well inspite of the media hype regarding the naming of the PM. It is indeed remarkable that with such a comfortable mandate, the media with all its micro analysts working overtime have succeeded in creating doubts in the minds of the PPP hierarchy, as to the new PM. Phantoms are being created, and then debated ad nauseum. Four names appeared, and our friendly bookies obliged immediately by posting odds on all four, and of course bets were placed.

The PPP played very coy, and no names were confirmed. The TV anchors had a ball, and continued day in and day out producing stories where none existed. The manner in which they held the interest of the audience was truly remarkable, with absolutely nothing in hand.

The media did not focus on the plethora of problems facing the yet to be formed Government and the daily grind suffered by the people. None of the future Cabinet addressed the issues of the price hikes facing the housewife in real terms—that of the daily kitchen items. No vegetable in Karachi is available at less than 100 Rs a kilo, including the lowly Loki. The last months of the Q Government had created a shortage of all food items including flour and Dall, the staple diet of Pakistanis. Never in the history of Pakistan has price spiral been seen of this magnitude. And never has such little concern been shown by the rulers. It is as if all is well. While heated discussions are taking place on the 40 plus channels, no heed is being paid to the plight of the masses. Salman Shah the interim finance minister was blaming the fuel prices, while we know that that little bombshell has not yet hit the market. We are still at the grubby hands of the hoarders and the blackmarketeers. The Finance Minister in waiting should already be issuing warnings to these rogues to immediately release all stocks so that the pressure on the people can be lessened. This is a peoples' Government and the people expect their burden to be lessened—immediately, for the masses are an impatient lot, and living under the poverty line they have nothing to fall back on. Their only possession was their vote, which they gave after due deliberation, and they expect results.

Asif must immediately assume command—for that is what the people expect of him. They assume he is already in control and expect things to start happening, and knowing his past no-nonsense approach they are convinced that his reputation as a doer is well earned, and he will deliver to the people the promises made during the elections. It is therefore even more important that the PPP leadership shed its catharsis and get down to work. The problems before them are multiple, with a bureaucracy that has not yet shed its ties with the Q masters.

It is therefore important that Asif take immediate control in a no-nonsense way, and in his most assertive manner proceed to impose his authority on the Government. The sooner the better. The people expect it of him and do not understand the delay. His strong willed reputation has preceded him, and people are eagerly awaiting the magic wand. That's how simple the people think it is. Someone from the PPP secretariat should address these aspects on behalf of the Government-in-waiting. The enemy's voice is muted, but it won't be long before the gloves come off and the games start. The opposition is heavily funded and experienced with well positioned supportive officers at all levels of the bureaucracy. This will make the functioning of a new government that much more difficult. To face these and the other problems will need Asif at his strongest, and most assertive. His biggest asset is the huge support he can draw upon from the people themselves. Also the unqualified support supplied by the Sharif brothers is welcome indeed and acting in concert it is a formidable team to tackle the problems of Pakistan. Especially the backing in Punjab from Shabaz, a wizard administrator with a proven track record, the future looks bright for Pakistan He should put this to work, and get on with the running of the country from his own office. He does not need a designation, as he had in the past exercised vast powers effectively, and more so than many Federal Ministers. That is why the delay appears unwarranted and is beyond the comprehension of the public. The prime responsibility is to perform—the sooner the better, like the Nike slogan---Just do it.