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Can the new democratic government deliver?

 It’s in position and already the euphoria is spreading thin. Why? Why with such stalwarts as Chaudhry Nisar, Ishaq Dar and Sartaj Aziz the situation does not seem to be positively charged. Political economics does not work alone. It works with what has been time and again stated as consiliency by me. Consiliency is a word coined by Harvard University Professor and it means that public matters cannot be handled by one institution. Let me give an example.

The ministry of Food and Agriculture is now ministry of food security. If that be, so how is food security worked in inflationary times? How is it worked when the loadshedding does not allow the wheels of industry to run? Where are the promises? Where are the tall claims?

To me the system will not work because truth is stronger than power. If the elections were based on truth then the political system will work itself out of any problem or issue(s) but if it is based on cheating then things will keep on happening that will rock the boat. These may not be directly related to the economic situation but the indirect GST is one thing and an indirect RTB (Rock The Boat) has very serious consequences. A social RTB is already on the move and the international countries that have been trying to give hope to the democratic process will start to worry about their own credibility. It is easy to say things about others. It is much more difficult to say things about oneself. So start worrying. Money in the bank is of no consequence. Money evenly distributed does not stink.

Loyalty is a ridiculous intervention and we have seen new governments hangers on seeking what are seen to be profitable jobs in the center only to fade away in time. Loyalty to a nation is one aspect that is the most important but loyalty to a political party or to a person of a political party is positively heinous. Yet the individuals are not to blame for they know no better. Then what is going to be the state of things in the country. If not this then what? The political system no matter of what creed they are is unable to differentiate between what is and what ought to be? There are very few amongst them that can deliver according to the state of the art or that can adapt to circumstances.

As is apparent the public is getting restless at the many promises made and not fulfilled. The perception that the political system is unable to perform is more important than that it performs. This is what happened in former East Pakistan where the Punjabi character was castigated by the generic public. When on one occasion I enquired as to how many Punjabis they had come across. The answer was that I was the first one. The perception is not based on facts but assumed rumours. I say assumed rumours for the simple reason that we are given to verbosity rather than hard facts in print. The electronic media has done nothing wrong in its application but do they know what is happening in the social system as a result of the various talk shows? Are there any universities that are examining the impact on the social attitudes as a result?

That aside the new government cannot survive on business as usual. Its boldness may take it through but apologetic actions are neither here nor there. The macro framework is a generic option but the micro functions of the government affect the common man. As we suffer from the heat the suffering of the common person is even more because of the electricity load shedding. The engineers have them where they can eke out their pound of flesh shylock style.

Time is important for any government. Timing is not. The latter is based on cleverness that is exposed sooner or later with catastrophic results. The lessons of East Pakistan need to be remembered. When the rich are looked after and the poor are neglected the harsher squeeze is on the middle class-the class that builds a nation due to its deference to law and rules and regulations. That is why we have growing disrespect for the law and order in the country. Please do not defend the ridiculous. The spate of artificial deaths in Karachi and Baluchistan and KPK speaks volumes of the nature of our society. When things are that blood thirsty what economic activity can we have? The resultant misery that is coming elsewhere than our own homes is indicative of one simple fact that sooner or later it will hit us as well. A lesson we learnt in former East Pakistan where the enemies would come together to defend the civic rights of each other.

The culture of smugness will determine whether the new government will be able to deliver. Are the ministers up to the mark? What is going to be their criteria for effectiveness? What about the intangibles? Already there are threats in the system as if some messiah will come and do their job for them. The advice must be coming from all over for the new ministers but they have to show that they have an alternate plan that can work much better than the previous one. There lies the crux of the matter. If something cannot go on for ever it won’t? So nothing in Pakistan can go on for ever and that ever is a shortened time span for political governments. Chaos is the result of inaction and letting things drift.

In recent times inequality has increased and beyond a certain threshold it means that there are chances of violence. That is becoming more and more obvious as time passes on. Is this what we are here for is the question some are asking. Is government about gilded ego or is it about humility of purpose? The answer lies in the manifestos of the parties- and since three parties will either have regional responsibility what has been stated above goes for all the policymakers from the public forum.

All the parties have stated that they have done their home work and are well prepared for action oriented policies. Well lay them down on the table and do the job that is required of each one of them. Failure is not an option any more. The span of actions are vast and the strategies required are many more than what were envisaged from the outside and when out of power. So what is to be done? If the income gap keeps on increasing as a result of the economic policies there will be hell to play. A more circumspect government is required? Try the simple things first and then go for the jugular and complex economic matters. Yes!!

Zafar Altaf, "Can the new democratic government deliver?," Business recorder. 2013-06-29.