THAT the state of affairs in the country is chaotic is abundantly clear. While on the external front, we are slipping fast down the path of ceding sovereignty to the US at an accelerated pace, it is the domestic front that should be the cause of immediate concern to any leadership that has even an iota of sensitivity to the nation. There are the continuing sugar and flour crises and the common man is being crippled under the weight of eking out a mere existence. Instead of lightening the burden for the masses, the governments, both provincial and federal, have joined hands with the cartels and the only ray of light, still allowing the poor man his existence, is coming from the judiciary. The government has also sought to cover its own ineptness by slapping on an unacceptable power price hike - while shifting the blame on to the IMF and World Bank. They certainly have a share in this burden, but after being pilloried by the politicians and media, they are now pointing the finger at the mismanagement and corruption of the government as a major cause. To further torment the public, the government has also increased the load shedding hours. This has put the NWFP Assembly in direct confrontation with the federation and the former had threatened to cut off power supply being generated in their province if load shedding is not reduced. They have a voice at least. What about the poor across the land who seem to have no one to speak for them? They are only wooed at election time and then dumped. In the rural areas, there are no timings for power cuts which stretch for eight to ten hours a day. So goodbye to agricultural production also. The prognosis for the masses is dim: no basic foods, with the cartels defying everyone including it would appear the courts and supported by the government; no electricity, with the price of power spiralling and load shedding increasing; and, no gas especially in rural areas with the onset of winter, price hike and expected gas load shedding. So we will soon have a hungry and cold population, suffering in the dark, and with a deteriorating law and order situation. Be it US drones expanding their operations, or criminal gangs in cahoots with local law enforcers, or covert US operatives harassing citizens at will, the public today feels less secure even in their own homes. The elected representatives were supposed to improve the lot of their electorate and the state was intended to serve the people. But today the state stands bereft of strong institutions and rules and procedures. Corruption, which will be sanctified if the new accountability bill is passed, and nepotism pervade as the elected leaders look after their own. The lavish lifestyles and even more lavish travel reveals the disconnect between the rulers and ruled. Does anyone care?