The winter of discontent has finally borne fruit and the people have taken to the streets in anger. My son arrived back from Lahore yesterday and I found this otherwise quiet young man in a state of acute agitation for he had returned from a metropolis without electricity and gas.

As the world celebrated the advent of the New Year with fireworks and jubilation, we in the federal capital, which according to many is 23 kilometres from Pakistan, witnessed fires and crowds of a different kind. And as if to add insult to injury, the myopic who run this country and their sidekicks, continued to appear on television to tell the suffering millions that ‘all is well’.

The Prime Minister’s House, Presidency and residences of the elite continue to bask in the luxury of multiple electricity feeders, standby generators and central heating, while the nation is herded to the point of no return. It is then that blind anger replaces reason and anything and anyone that represents authority becomes the focal point of public hatred. I sincerely hope that we have not reached that point although indicators to the contrary have begun to manifest themselves.

Although previous governments must share some of the blame, but it is the current setup that takes the cake in blinkered policy making and governance. Take the case of Compressed Natural Gas or CNG. Instead of conserving our gas reservoirs for domestic and selective industrial use, this government allowed and encouraged unbridled consumption of natural gas as transport fuel, resulting in depletion of these reserves.

Another case in point is rental power plants and statements that these would bring relief to the public. If the decision to allow the setting up of these units was judicious and without motives of personal gain, then why are we passing through, what can best be termed as one of the worst periods of power load shedding in our history? Add to this, the fact that while private power producers have the capacity to meet the national need and more; they are not doing so because the government is behind on payments for whatever these companies are adding to the national grid. 

For whatever it is worth, a rumour is doing its rounds that many high and mighty have gone on a recent spree of acquiring private aircraft. Now I don’t grudge the said acquisition as long as these planes are not used by individuals to escape accountability and retribution, when it does materialize.

A guest in a recent talk show passed a telling remark to the effect that the government’s ineptitude to deliver was actually doing irreparable damage to democracy as poor governance was forcing people to say that things were a lot better under the previous undemocratic setup. This brings up the key question of what can the present regime do in one year, if it does decide to salvage the situation, in the light of what it has not been able to accomplish in four years of its rule.

My family happens to be my most ardent critic and I am grateful for this. They have often accused me of being an old grouch who finds faults with everything around me, but a change appears to have come over them. They now encourage me to write about what is happening and is likely to happen in the ‘Land of the Pure’. I am however scared to look into the future, for I see the approaching storm - even though those that perambulate within the corridors of power appear to be blissfully unaware of danger. Perhaps they are content in the knowledge that their ‘flats’ and ‘villas’ across the seas await them, when it is time to fly – and fly they will, leaving the likes of us to who are bound to the soil, to face more trial and tribulation.

My home is dark and my hearth is cold and I am losing hope. I have nowhere to turn to, except to raise my arms in supplication to the Provider of All Things seeking deliverance and hoping for a leader, who may put his country before himself.

    The writer is a freelance columnist.