The US-India-Israel nexus is old hat and has been done to death. It is a good stand to hang all our problems on, whenever the need arises, but I have uncovered another nexus that is more current and definitely more interesting Thats the one between Rehman Malik, the Federal Interior Minister, and the face cream that also claims miracle qualities. They have both claimed miracles in seven days. The cream for an unbelievable improvement in the complexion and the Interior Minister for an unbelievable improvement in the sea of corruption (the latest TI report not withstanding) One admires the sentiment of the minister: We have to uproot this menace of corruption. I give one week to all heads of departments to take necessary action in this regard. But I wonder if those comfortably indulging in the practice are shivering in their boots after this statement? When people making such statements are tainted themselves with the same unsavoury allegations, they do not have the ability to scare anyone. Rehman Malik, the governments favourite trouble-shooter, is here, there and everywhere, much like Iqbals verse: Jahan mai ahle imaan manand-e-khursheed jeetay hain, Idhar doobey, udhar niklay, udhar doobey, idhar niklay. All the emphasis is on temporarily diffusing whichever situation has the most potential for snowballing into an unmanageable crisis. Tactics are always the same - promises, a new page, promises of a 180 degree turn, and promises of not breaking promises. Much like the badly treated wife, the nation has no choice but to accept the rhetoric each time and to keep hoping that corruption will become a story book tale for our next generation, while we also begin to glow and develop new skins after using the seven day cream One thing about Rehman Malik though. He remains unfazed, whatever the scenario (I wish I knew his brand of multi-vitamin). He handles acts of terrorism, lawlessness, political wheeling and dealing, as well as difficult questions from the media, with the same remarkable and remorseless confidence. The mentioned cream, despite the benefits it promises, remains very low down on our shopping list, as the price hike in essential commodities becomes more and more daunting. At this point in time managing the month in terms of a budget has become almost impossible for the great majority. The fabled resilience of the Pakistani people is being sorely tested with the news that the price hike will continue to get worse in the coming months. Nobody seems to have viable alternate solutions, not even the master diffuser, Rehman Malik. The Ministry of Religious Affairs is in the news, as it is every year in the season of Haj. I have never understood the need for a Ministry for Religion, to start with. Haj is a management issue and can, Im sure, be handled without resorting to a full-fledged ministry. What the ministry does, apart from handling the annual Haj, is not quite clear except, perhaps, make pious sounding statements according to the months of the Islamic calendar. Simultaneously, there is news that Theres gold in them hills, like the famous Black Crowes song. The dichotomy in our situation is that we have to beg from the world to sustain ourselves, but we sit on untold riches. A report has revealed that there are vast deposits of gold and copper in Balochistan. The scale of these deposits and their extraction can dramatically alter our economy for the better. The gold in the hills has also given gleams in the eye to many, who are players in this game of billions of dollars. Currently, the foreign mining companies are working under exploration licenses, used to determine the viability of the deposits in terms of extraction and profit. They want these turned into mining licenses, which would give them a huge advantage. If we have a chance to turn the future of this nation around with this natural bounty, we ought to shift the focus on the unearthed treasure and ensure that there is complete transparency in its handling. The Chief Justice must take notice of this. The benefits of this national asset have to go to the people of this country and not to wild frontier outlaws or thieves or individuals or companies. Postscript: It has been over five years since the earthquake hit some areas of Pakistan in 2005. For those of us, who live in Islamabad and lost loved ones in the Margalla Towers tragedy, there has been no closure, despite so much time having elapsed. The devastated building continues to stand in the same manner, as it did when it was half destroyed by the quake. It has not been levelled and reminds all passer-byes of the awful tragedy. The CDA must pull it down so that the land can be utilised again for some purpose. The haunting and half-standing structure of the building only serves as a reminder of all that was lost because of loopholes in the construction and the lack of checks in the system. I was invited to be one of the judges at an inter-school debating contest recently. The proceedings began with the bright looking students singing the national anthem accompanied by a keyboard. One was compelled to sing along with them. Our anthem is so beautifully written and composed. Parchame sitara-o-hilal, rahbar-e-taraqi-o-kamal, Tarjumane mazi, shaan-e-hal. (The last two words just got stuck in my throat). The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: