ASHRAF MIRZA Pakistan is in a mess due to the grim political, economic and security situation. The hope for improvement with the induction of democratic dispensation following the February 2008 general elections stands shattered as corruption, maladministration and political confrontation pervert a wide range of national affairs. Political instability, public insecurity, economic degeneration, suicide bombings and military operations present a disgusting scenario that stares the nation in the face. A cursory look at the security situation since the advent of the PPP-led government reveals a substantial increase in terrorist activity. Terrorists have struck over 120 times in different parts of the country causing well over 2000 deaths. In the past week alone about 200 persons lost their lives in terrorist incidents in Peshawar, Lahore, Islamabad, Kohat, Kamra and Shangla. The GHQ, FIA building and police training centre were targeted, followed by bomb blasts at the International Islamic University, Meena Bazar in Peshawar and recently outside a bank near Shalimar Hotel in Rawalpindi. By attacking these targets, the terrorists have given an unambiguous message that they have the ability to hit anywhere and at any time at will. They probably wanted to take high officials hostage to seek release of their top leaders in government custody. Politically, the government is in a state of limbo as the notorious NRO has caused ripples across the political divide in the National Assembly. As the situation stands today, the government is left with only MQM that supports the NRO. President ANP president Asfandyar Wali is not likely to do so since none of his party men have benefited from the NRO. Likewise, the PML-N and PML-Q have declared their outright opposition to the Ordinance. In addition, Mian Nawaz Sharif calls it a stigma on the face of the National Assembly if it endorses the impugned law. Economically, the national leadership is running around with a begging bowl though no help is forthcoming except through the infamous Kerry-Lugar Act that undermines the national sovereignty. The government was so desperate for financial aid that it silently accepted it with all its flaws to the detriment of Pakistan's sovereignty. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Ambassador Hussain Haqqani were defending it as the panacea for Pakistan till the media, experts from different fields and the opposition rose against its highly intrusive strings. It was, in fact, the public outcry in Pakistan that forced the authors of Kerry-Lugar to insert clarifications to soften the reaction. John Kerry also hurriedly flew to Islamabad to explain what he said the 'intent' of the bill. He met President Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani, COAS General Kayani and PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif. The law and order is at the lowest ebb as militants strike at selected targets with ease. The escalation in the incidents of suicide bombers and bomb blasts in recent weeks is being regarded officially as a reaction to the Swat and Malakand operation and now the South Waziristan military action. The military operation in South Waziristan has won bipartisan endorsement at a meeting of the country's civil, military and political leadership held with Prime Minister Gilani in the chair. Furthermore, the situation in Balochistan is equally disturbing. To make matters worse India's notorious intelligence agency RAW is actively engaged in destabilising the province (as well as meddling in the tribal belt) by supplying money and weapons to the renegades through its so-called consulates established in the border towns of Afghanistan. Baitullah Mehsud's connection with India was no secret. Besides, China and Iran are bitter about terrorist attacks in their territories with substantial casualties. Both have alleged that Pakistan's soil was used for these attacks. India is also persisting with the pressure on Islamabad on account of the Mumbai attack. An evaluation of the PPP government's performance over the past one and half year presents a depressing scenario. The issues of poor diplomacy, state of insecurity, economic stagnation and escalating terrorism and militancy apart, the government has failed to overcome even the energy, sugar and atta crisis. Like Musharraf and his predecessors, it has also not focused on hydel power generation. Its option for the rental power projects is widely believed to have been prompted by financial motivation like the independent power projects. Sugar and atta scandals had jolted the nation recently as the raise in their prices was manipulated allegedly through mutual understanding between the government and the mill owners. The people had to run from pillar to post to get these common consumer items for subsistence. PPP Co-Chairman and President Asif Zardari has not implemented the Charter of Democracy. He restored the chief justice and other judges only after the Nawaz Sharif-led Long March and the COAS intervention. The government has thus not been able to deliver in accordance with public expectations. It is thus time for us all to rise above personal and party motives and respond to the imperatives of national interests. The country is in a state of war since the Pakistan Army is engaged in military operations against terrorists in various parts of the country. The problems that the country faces are no doubt intricate: Balochistan is in a state of turmoil; the economy is in a shambles; the security of citizens' life, honour and property is virtually extinct; the cost of living is breaking the back of the people. Pakistan is thus pitted against heavy odds but with a collective effort on the part of all stakeholders, there is reason that the nation could steer out of the woods. Isn't it time to pause and ponder for the establishment of a national government to deal with the difficult situation staring the nation in the face? The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: