The dawn of democracy after a long night of military rule, following February 18 elections had filled the heart of every Pakistani with high hopes. The nation greeted the new leaders with great enthusiasm and optimism. However this fervour soon ebbed out, as the Gilani's government failed to make any meaningful change or inspire confidence. The election of president to the high office was nothing short of a miracle. His negotiations and agreement with PML-N as a coalition partner and his repeated assurances of taking every political party on board were received on their face value. People with bated breath looked with anticipation for a political consensus on major national issues and rule of law, anchored in respect to the judiciary and ensuring good governance and that these changes will usher in a new era. Alas these hopes were not to be realised. The solemn promises made and written commitments agreed to, were cavalierly ignored. The nation's hopes for the emergence of a genuine democratic order were further frustrated with the nomination of former bureaucrats in pivotal positions. The formation of the Cabinet after the break up of the coalition in April remained unfulfilled until recently. Once these positions were filled, it became the largest Cabinet in the history of Pakistan. The concerns of the citizens were aggravated with inclusion of a couple of ministers with suspect credentials, based on their past record. It is an irony that the critical ministries like interior and finance of a democratic government are being run by non-elected former bureaucrats. Media has also expressed concern that in total disregard of popular sentiments five new portfolios have been created to accommodate yet more political cronies. The citizens are facing the worst crises of escalating prices of food, fuel and other essential items. The graph of poverty is increasing to dangerous levels and despite IMF bail-out, the country in on the brink of financial bankruptcy. The leadership visited major world capitals for assistance in cash to tide over the financial crunch, but again it is a sad reflection on the government's credibility that our best and most trustworthy friends like China and Saudi Arabia each having 2000 billion dollars in their reserves did not respond positively. So far we have only promises of US$500 million from both. The reluctance of the Friends of Pakistan to come to its rescue is an expression of lack of faith in Pakistan's economic management and financial rectitude. The political parties including PPP, most critical of the extravagant ways of the Musharraf regime for their reckless spending on foreign trips, are now indulging in similar callous disregard of financial piety. The Parliament was recently informed that former PM Shaukat Aziz spent more than a billion rupees on his 47 foreign visits. Musharraf spent Rs 1.4 billion on his foreign jaunts during the same period. It was also revealed that Shaukat Aziz in 2004 spent 18.7 million on Umra in which he took 45 members along. The president has out bid him and reportedly took an entourage of 200 persons in two chartered flights. Similar performance has been repeated both by the prime minister and president on their other visits, while the country's economy is sinking. The disappointment of the people is increasing with such conduct by those at the helm of affairs. Internally the governance has failed to make any visible impact or improvement in any department. Recruitment to various posts are being made purely on personal or political loyalty, without any reference to merit. Scramble for office of profit is continuing and the empty coffers of state are being burdened with their postings. The law and order situation is getting from bad to worse. Hardly a day passes without violence and terror activity in the big cities. Karachi carnage, with its deadly impact on national unity in this grave hour has not evoked decisive action by government. The operation conducted by the army in Swat and Waziristan has resulted in the displacement of about half a million innocent citizens from their homes. Media reports of destruction of 4000 houses and killing of 1500 militants reveal the scale of the problem. These figures also do not show the whole picture, and are still tentative. Violations of Pakistan's sovereignty by US drones have now become a routine. So far there have been 17 such attacks killing hundreds, mostly women and children without any remorse or regret. The government declares that the US and NATO strikes are intolerable and yet watches them helplessly. True that most problems have been inherited by the Gilani government and eight months are too short a period to judge its performance. However the people's frustration is that within these confines, the handling of the multiple crises has remained inept and ineffective eroding the nation's confidence in democracy. People have suffered enough and over the period have developed considerable insight into the conduct of our politicians. The mounting dissatisfaction at the absence of any coherent strategy or road map to face the challenges has led to seething anger that could claim democracy as its first victim, in not too distant a future. The writer is a former ambassador