LAHORE - Decision making on most of the matters of national significance is being carried out through a handful of persons in the ruling party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. This impression is strongly growing among the party men after the opposition grilled the rulers on this score many times.

Projects and development schemes are carried out with the public money, as such spending on them merits thorough deliberations to avert the losses. So contracts and agreements need to ward off complications in future, opine the observers, highlighting value of cross section and broad-based input before spending money on mega schemes.

Since inception of the PML-N government, it took a number of decisions on energy, transport, infrastructure development, agri package, social sector development, political issues and others, but a big question arises how much input it received on the same from the legislators of its own party or held debates in the parliament.

The PML-N legislators and the relevant members, when asked in private gatherings about their involvement in decision making, they prefer to maintain silence. However, some other dare to say that decision making on projects for the national development is limited to a few leaders of the top ranks and even a division of high and low in position is observed to value their say in the final count. The rest of the party men have to follow those decisions and justify them before the people through statements and talk shows.

The PML-N manifesto is deeply hued in democratic spirit but its sounds in words only at a time when its demonstration is a need. At the party level, a central executive committee, comprising representatives from all provinces, Azad Kashmir and GB, is there to discuss any scheme or matter of national interest at the party level before formally floating its idea to the parliament or the cabinet. This exercise is generally followed in many states of the world to elicit broad-based approval and feedback on a vital matter from the party men to come strong against any opposition to the same before the parliament and any other forum. Along with the party they also run a forum of think tanks of the experts that helps the party and its government overcome any technical hurdle in the way. The PML-N CEC last time met before the May 11, 2013 elections and since them it is dormant. In Punjab mega projects like Orange Line, metro bus and roads were launched, but none was debated in the house. A party source says the party working committee at the provincial level has been non-existent since long and the CM is all in all in decision making with necessary guidance from bureaucracy on any scheme.

There is hardly any project that was passed through parliamentary debate before launching. However, they come under discussion at this platform only when a flaw and misappropriation is pinpointed. During the PPP government, the same PML-N strongly protested the rental power projects, terming them a clandestine deal to earn commission. This party also demonstrated against the privatisation of national assets and Reko Diq contracts in Balochistan alleging underhand dealing. The party was displeased with the PPP policy of maintaining secrecy on national projects and then vehemently sought debates in the house in the larger public interest. In this background, the PML-N has come to power to break the traditional way and set new democratic and transparent tradition about running the affairs.

But now the PML-N seems following the same course as important things are being decided secretly by a handful of confidants of the Sharifs and their own family members. The scope now stands expanded to their children for grooming them as future rulers.

This trend has not only resulted in isolation of others who matter in the process, but also has yielded adverse results inviting the judicial intervention. The example is appointment of chairperson of Rs 100 billion youth loans scheme, which was scrapped by the court and another high-level appointment.

Yet another is recent admission by Water and Power Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif that scourge of loadshedding will not end in 2018, which grossly belies the tall claims of the PML-N government that had used electricity crisis as a strong slogan to win the last general elections. The electricity needs by 2018 have been estimated about 25,000MW against the generation of 18,500MW. This difference is almost the same which stood on the first day of the government.

Similarly, CPEC, a highly vital project for the economic turnaround of the country, is being disputed by KP as it feels deprived of due facilities on the track to its province which others have. This project must be saved from hitting snags as future of the country depends on its successful completion.

The report that the PML-N will leave the country in darkness at the end of its tenure is quite dismaying for the public, industrialists and businessmen who eagerly awaited good days in 2018.

Another feature is reports about privatisation of PIA, Pakistan Steel Mills and PTA. Whether or not it would take place is yet shrouded in mystery. So it needs a serious stocktaking by the government to calm the employees of these concerns. Had the government shared views with all stakeholders, including the party men, before putting their schemes into practice, this situation would not have happened.