The nation is in the middle of tragedy – a tragedy amplified by an inept and corrupt provincial government. More than a thousand people have died because of a severe heat wave that engulfed Pakistan’s largest port and coastal city and while mortuaries were overflowed with victims, the Chief Minister decided to host an Iftar party, until someone sensible told him not to do so. This is not the first time that the Chief Executive of Sindh has shown his gross inability to administer his charge. His almost comically callous approach to the Thar crisis, his somnambulism during assembly sessions and briefings, his propensity to forget where his seat is located on the floor of the house or which car he is supposed to use at the end of an official commitment are, but a few examples of the man’s lack of capacity to think straight and generate good governance.

Nonetheless, getting back to the heat wave crisis, which has raised some questions that need answering in public interest. The most critical of these is the failure of the Met Department to forecast that a severe hot weather phenomenon could occur in and around Karachi. I refuse to believe that our Met people were ignorant of the fact that similar conditions had taken a heavy toll in neighboring India. Why was it then that they couldn’t predict the threat, using modern technology and computer projections? And if this had been done, then why did the provincial government not take steps to mitigate projected conditions?

While the Chief Minister and his band of merrily oblivious men passed their days and nights in uninterrupted air-conditioning, drinking chilled mineral water, they turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the dead and the dying. Not only this, but the top leadership of PPP decided that things were getting a little too hot for them and conveniently departed for their overseas havens with no immediate return itinerary. How did these individuals leave the country or more appropriately, why were they allowed to leave, when they and their colleagues were being accused of gross misdemeanors, neglect and poor-governance? Was their departure indirectly facilitated with the discreet connivance of the Federal Government? If this was the case, then the war of words between the PMLN and PPP leadership was nothing, but a façade for the consumption of a gullible nation.

I have been witness to the rise of PPP under the charismatic leadership of its founder Chairman Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and have watched the party grow from strength to strength under the guidance of his able daughter Benazir. Perhaps I am now regretfully seeing the disintegration and demise of this party. This notion was lent strength, during a recent television talk show featuring Mr. Asad Omar from PTI and a PPP leader. The latter was clearly uncomfortable with the questions being put to him and appeared to be searching for words and floundering in defense of his party.

To me, Bhutto’s PPP appears to be splitting right down the middle, with one faction supporting the former President and the other keen to carry on with its Founding Father’s legacy. The formation of PPP (Workers) by Benazir’s trusted aide and confidante Naheed Khan and her husband Safdar Abbasi is bound to inject a new twist to the situation. Traditional ‘Bhuttoists’, disillusioned with the current party set up, may drift to Naheed Khan’s fold, widening cracks within the original PPP.

Whatever be the end result, Pakistan is passing through a very interesting though critical political metamorphosis. In my opinion this is a good sign as it indicates an evolutionary (or perhaps revolutionary) process in our pursuit of a truly effective indigenous democratic system. We must however not forget that PPP has a history of bouncing back from setbacks. The final question here is whether it can do so this time.