THE Prime Minister touched on some of the country's burning issues of the day while he was talking to PPP officebearers at Dubai during a brief stay there on Monday en route to Libya, which he is visiting to attend the 40th anniversary of its revolution. Mr Gilani explained how his government was trying to alleviate poverty, overcome the energy crisis, improve the security climate, effect political reconciliation and let Parliament decide Musharraf's fate. His stand in general appeared unimpressive when put to the test of reality. For instance, for all the official claim that inflation is showing a downward trend from which he obviously took the cue and maintained that the price hike was being curbed, market reports tell a different story. Shoppers know to their dismay that the basic necessities of life, let alone luxuries, are fast going out of their reach, and with the petroleum products getting relentlessly dearer and impacting the whole range of goods and services, it is ridiculous to pretend that the poverty graph is sliding down. On the contrary. The Benazir Income Support Programme that the Prime Minister mentioned is only a temporary relief and by no means leads to the eradication of poverty. The economic situation is no better. With the energy shortfall crippling life in general, not just industrial activity, it is difficult to conceive of any economic development taking place in the country. Added to that are the corruption scandals that the rental power projects have evoked suggesting inexcusable misuse of money at this time of economic crunch. Mr Gilani's reference to the Swat operation in the context of improvement of the security situation is justified as far as it has reduced the threat of militancy. It does not, though, allay the people's concern about the widespread lawlessness in the country: murders, robberies and thefts. About Musharraf's trial one would have wished Mr Gilani to say that the PPP would support it in Parliament. Mr Gilani's reference to the politics of reconciliation that he claimed the PPP has adopted sits ill with the controversies raging in the country. One also hopes that the PML(N) would rise above the fray and concentrate on playing a constructive role. It would be a pity if these two major parties, which have spent a long time as political outcasts in exile and were thought to have forsaken the politics of confrontation, were to revert to the old ways. Such an attitude has enabled offstage players to exploit the situation in the past to the detriment of democracy and must be abandoned.