The daily bump and grind of life in Pakistan continues on its ever-escalating descent to chaos, as the population limps along from one crisis to the next under the 'supposed care of a government, which must surely be the worst to hold the reins of power, since the countries inception back in 1947 when hopes were so emotionally high. Recent months have proven to be nothing, but a series of nightmares for the population at large and, judging by the current situation, things are set to degenerate even further over the months to come. One only has to consider governmental apathy towards the estimated 700,000 people, who still remain homeless after this years monsoon floods in Sindh, which affected over five million people in total, decimated 2.3 million acres of crops and ravaged almost four million acres more, to gauge the cruel disdain that the so-called 'powers that be mete out to those they purport to represent in order to gain an idea of how unforgivably sick the situation has become. It is not just the 700,000 homeless who are currently, especially with winter moving in, at high risk from malnutrition and potentially decimating health problems either as the majority of the five million flood affected are all in desperate need of food and medical assistance even though they do, by now and largely from their own efforts, have at least some form of roof over their heads. At least half of this figure comprises children suffering from a lack of potable water, nutritious food and warm clothing and with the situation already having reached emergency level, it is gut wrenching to know what must surely come next - a major humanitarian crisis exists and will, undoubtedly and unless some form of miracle occurs, turn into a catastrophe of horrendous magnitude with which what passes for a government cannot possibly deal. With a mere 37 percent of the $357 million, the United Nations issued a global appeal for having actually materialised the future is bleak indeed and is made only bleaker by the reported lack of interest, let alone capability, as so far shown by the National Disaster Management Authority set up to deal with such issues but which, like so many other government departments, does not appear to have any clear understanding of what, exactly, it is supposed to be doing other than have its members swan around making hay for themselves, while the sick and starving millions foot the bill. The mood of desperation is rapidly gaining ground outside of the flood-affected areas too as all levels of the working class struggle to make ends meet on incomes, which no longer have the purchasing power they had just a matter of weeks ago. Cutting back and making do is what all households, in all parts of the country, are having to do these days and the recently announced upsurge in diesel prices is liable to prove the last straw for many as the additional costs incurred by farmers, transporters, etc will, obviously, be passed on, inflated in the process, right down the line to the consumer who is then expected to meet budgetary increases out of funds they no longer have. Mutton has long been off the daily menu for many, beef has followed suit, chicken and fish are luxury items, fruit is no longer bought regularly, fresh vegetables are expensive but necessary and this is just the tip of the culinary iceberg as items such as cooking oil, lentils, sugar, tea, milk et al are all exorbitantly expensive now. Eating is, of course, a basic necessity of life, but so too are clothing, medical bills, heating, rents, education, electricity, gas, water, transport and on the list goes: A list that the majority of the population cannot possibly fill, especially the segment earning less than Rs5,000 per month which, unsurprisingly, is very large. Those living in a joint family system are able, by dint of scrimping and scraping, to get along far better than those who, for whatever reason, have only a single income coming in and, as for the unemployed, the elderly or incapacitated then goodness only knows how they can possibly survive. Pile on that the entire country is set to suffer massive electricity loadshedding from December 15 through to the end of January, while canals are desilted and repaired, and that routine winter gas shortages will soon kick in and there is a recipe for misery indeed. People have a tendency to be happier, more laidback and more forgiving when the sun shines and they are reasonably comfortable and well fed. Dull, chilly if not downright bitterly cold winter weather though foments disillusionment, discontent and downright bad tempers and this winter, or so it seems, is set to be one of the extreme conditions all round and it is, all things considered, astonishing that people have taken as much as they have without erupting in a frenzy of furious protest before now. We Pakistanis are, when it suits us, extremely tolerant, but all the signs are indicative that this tolerance is coming to an end and, if it isnt, it damn well should be The writer is author of The Gun Tree: One Womans War (Oxford University Press, 2001) and lives in Bhurban. Email: