The one thing that remains constant since the assumption of power by the PPP is the huge credibility gap its leadership suffers from. It stems from President Zardari's frequent backtracking on his promises and pledges. This trust deficit has come in the way of international donor agencies and even some of our friendly countries to bail Pakistan out of the worst economic crisis of its history. At the domestic level the situation is no different. There would not be many to trust the government's sincerity in implementing the consensus resolution adopted by the parliament on combating terrorism through political means. The government has not done anything beyond paying lip service to condemn stepped-up attacks in our tribal areas by US Predators. Just a day after American Ambassador Anne Patterson was summoned to the Foreign Office, 36 people were killed in brazen missile attacks in North and South Waziristan. The strikes coincided with Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff's observation that 'a country should have the right to attack another if it is harbouring a potential terrorist threat'. Perhaps the government is too badly stuck in dealing with the challenges to national security and persisting economic crisis to spare time to focus its attention on the issues of governance. Law and order situation continues to deteriorate. The backbreaking hike in the prices of essential items has added to the misery of the poor and the downtrodden. And while our rulers continue with their ostentatious lifestyle their calls to the nation to learn to live within its means are frustrating. There has been no sincere effort on the part of the government to mitigate the prevalent sense of deprivation among the smaller provinces. Balochistan continues to bleed. President Zardari only cautiously blamed the previous regime for adopting a step-motherly attitude towards its and depriving its people of their due rights. The fact remains that Balochistan during the past nine years of dictatorship experienced the worst kind of repression. The province's most pro-federalist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti was murdered in cold blood only because he raised his voice to save the Baloch from Musharraf's tyranny. A multitude of innocent citizens were killed in military attacks ostensibly targeted against so-called 'militants' and many more went missing under mysterious circumstances. The shadowy intelligence agencies allegedly involved in killing and kidnapping civilians on the mere suspicion of their links with terrorist networks were virtually given immunity from appearing in the court and disclosing the whereabouts of those they had abducted. There is all the more reason to summon Musharraf to the parliament to tell how many of them were handed over to the Americans for interrogation at the Guantanamo Bay in return for dollars.   Pity the poor Baloch. They are still awaiting to see Mr Zardari fulfil his promise to address their grievances and bring to an end their travails. Mere apologies or promises to restore them the ownership of their rights and resources will not help. The Baloch had faced enough of the naked aggression to get carried away by empty slogans. Soon after the province was struck last week by a devastating earthquake the President was suddenly reminded that his government has to rehabilitate thousands of those rendered homeless in District Ziarat after the tremor destroyed their mud houses. The local leadership has serious doubts about early rehabilitation of those affected by the calamity. They are aware of the fate of the victims of the 2005 quake many of whom have not yet been provided shelter despite massive donations coming in from across the world. The so-called conciliatory process initiated by the present government needs to be seen in the backdrop of the snail paced progress of the Reconciliatory Committee on Balochistan constituted by Mr Zardari long before assuming the office of President. It took the committee several months to announce a roadmap aimed at mainstreaming the Baloch. Sardar Akhtar Mengal's observation that numerous missing persons have not yet been recovered and the operation by the security agencies shows no sign of abating is a comment on the current dispensation's claim that it has abandoned the repressive policies of the past that had exacerbated the separatist sentiments in the province. If General Musharraf can now accuse former Balochistan Governor Owais Ghani of continuing to misinform him that a new middle class had emerged in the province which despised 'traitorous sardars' and supported the government's effort to develop Balochistan, Mr Zardari cannot make such an excuse. And he will have to take the whole blame if the promise he has made to compensate the Baloch against the relentless repression to which they had been subjected is not translated into reality. E-mail: sarmad@nation.com.pk