Prime Minister Gilani has made a confident prediction that the PML-N stands no chance of coming into power, notwithstanding the charges of corruption Mian Nawaz Sharif might make against the PPP-led political setup. Addressing PPP’s Executive Committee members in Lahore, on Sunday, Mr Gilani warned that in case democracy was wound up, all political parties would be adversely affected. Strangely, though, he used, in this context, an interesting terminology, “all shops would be closed”, suggestive of their being merely commercial enterprises. He astonished the public by claiming that his government had executed development works costing Rs 1.5 trillion, created jobs, boosted economy and was making efforts to check inflation; the only example he could cite of prices being bought down was sugar. One wonders when his efforts to bring down prices which have gone up several times, since his party assumed power, will bear fruit.

Come election time, political parties with a share in running the government at the federal and provincial levels, would have to justify the trust the electorate had reposed in them. If they have to their credit anything worthwhile, which has benefited the general public, they will have a better chance of gaining a heavy mandate. However, the PPP’s own record of bad governance, tales of widespread corruption, and above all, its determined defiance of the judicial verdicts to save the skin of key figures, are not likely to stand it in good stead. The incumbent parties would also have to be wary of the wind of change, symbolised by the emerging force in the shape of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf. Unless they shape their policies in line with the people’s demands and create unity within their ranks – in the case of PML-N to unite different factions into which the League stands torn at the moment – the PTI could seriously erode their standing.

The PM also promised that the end of the current year would see the end of the energy crisis, but one cannot help recalling the then concerned Minister’s declaration on the floor of the House in 2008 that the power shortage would be over before that year too was out. In reality, the crisis has grown severer. The issue has become complicated, with the government’s persistence to proceed with rental power projects that have been decried all around for their inbuilt corruption. Another factor adding to our misery is the foot-dragging on the Iranian gas project on US insistence. While overcoming the gas shortage within a year is out of the question, unless Pakistan imports gas to overcome its electricity shortfall. This was only recently proven when a temporary attempt was made to pay the circular debt. Work on a war footing must begin to arrange for the procurement of 5000MW of power Tehran is offering to sell.