When the PMLN government came to power it had three things on its agenda. One, it wanted to solve the energy crisis. Second, it wanted to restrict the army’s space to just defending our borders. Which meant that it wanted to deal with India or the Taliban in its own way and not take dictation from the establishment. And third, it wanted to fix the economy to carry out large infrastructure projects.

In two out of its three objectives, it has (so far) utterly failed and even though the economy is somewhat improved in terms of visible numbers, the government hasn’t been able to pull off the large infrastructure projects that it hoped to.

Starting with energy first, the government has failed to reduce transmission and distribution (T&D) losses that were 22 to 24 percent during the previous PPP regime and remain the same now. Rs. 490 billion circular debt was paid, but a similar amount has accrued again in spite of electricity tariffs having been raised by over 30 percent and fuel prices coming down by more than 40 percent. Any remotely well-run power sector should have been running into surplus and not the deficit they are accruing every month. And not even a single coal power project has “started”, leave alone having achieved financial close. Even if these projects were to come on line, they are unlikely to start producing before Nawaz Sharif’s term ends, including the mind bogglingly unfeasible imported coal-fired power projects in Punjab. Some gas is about to be imported, but outside of that the situation today is as bad as it was when he and his government took over.

Yes, the PMLN blames the provinces for not paying their dues and other structural problems, but other than making statements, PMLN has not done much to sort out issues or make structural reforms. And this is in spite of the fact that the PPP, the major opposition in Parliament, is willing to play ball and doesn’t even ask for any political concessions, just pecuniary benefits going to top leadership and cronies. And the MQM and JUI too, the other parliamentary forces, can be easily won over again for the private benefit of their party leaders.

The second big thing on this government’s mind was to restrict the army’s space. But that was a lugubrious affair. Imran Khan, of course, was partially to blame for succumbing to his own vanity and lust for power and conspiring with two former spy masters to undermine democracy, but did Nawaz Sharif not make one mistake after another? From Geo to Musharraf, from Model Town to coddling sectarians in Punjab, to dithering over action against the Taliban to letting MQM get away with murder and the PPP with the loot? Nawaz Sharif hasn’t been the resolute leader he was elected to be. And in this vacuum has forcefully, and perhaps forcibly, stepped in Raheel Sharif. Never mind the army’s complicity in providing space for the Taliban and the sectarian outfits to operate in. Never mind its nurturing of the MQM and of the top brass having business links with Zardari.

All that, in the new narrative, never really existed. What we have is the squeaky clean, brave and resolute, and patriotic new chief Raheel Sharif.

At the end of the day, we have the army beating the PMLN at its own game. The PMLN had, by comparison, the best media team before the elections in 2013. But now the ISPR is head and shoulders above it. The military, with the help of its new narrative, has now not just taken over security policy but also foreign policy, and 18th amendment be damned, is now looking after provincial administration as well. And sadly, provincial levels of corruption and apathy have enabled this takeover.

Yet, all is not lost. The economy is not an abysmal story altogether. Inflation is at an 11 year low, the deficit is under control and international agencies are open to working with us and finding us credible again, against all odds. There’s something to say for that. Though inflation has reduced because of a worldwide downturn in oil prices, internationally positive trends don’t automatically turn into domestic benefits, as is evident from the recent petrol crisis. Still, the economy isn’t generating enough cash for large infrastructure projects - and for those we are still having to rely on Chinese largesse. But almost two years into this government, and not a single large project has ‘started’.

The incumbent party can still, if it really puts its mind to it, pull a rabbit out of a hat and deliver on its promise to rid this nation of load shedding before its term ends. In which case it may be given a second term, during which it may still tame the military somewhat. But that’s wishful thinking, at the moment. Sadly, what I find more probable is the Nawaz Sharif government faltering and faltering. I do hope Raheel Sharif doesn’t “rescue” us before that.