Pakistan today is sizzling in the crucible of crises of all sorts. At the centre of it all is the federal government which is fast reaching the tether’s end because of its incompetence and corruption.

It is not merely a question of lethargy or willful neglect reflected in mind-boggling acts of on omission but also of consistently poor governance. There is much rhetoric and little by way of constructive action. Policy and programmes about literacy and failure to meet even one of the six internationally committed Education For All goals, for instance. Yes, there is the Right to Education article, now, in the amended Constitution but even after the lapse of a whole year, the law required to enforce this right has yet to be promulgated.

The Balochistan question remains unresolved in spite of continuing “disappearances” and wonton killings. Nawaz Sharifs’ initiative to meet Sardar Mangal reveals the extent of alienation of the people with the government. Government’s Aghaz-e-Haqquq-e-Balochistan has proved to be a damp squib as the will to resolve the root issues, is sorely lacking. Can Pakistan afford any more negligence in taking effective steps to win back the unhappy, angry and estranged Balochi brothers?

A glaring case of poor planning is the way the matter relating to the supply   of gas has been allowed to escalate into a traumatic crisis. Was the delay in using the coal deposits to produce gas deliberate? Why was the agreement with Iran delayed for years for the supply of gas? When finally the deal was signed in May 2009 why has there been so much dithering about the work to be done to lay the pipes within Pakistan which Iran has already done on its side? If we don’t do our part of the job by 2014 under the agreement, we shall have to pay S2 million per day as the stipulated penalty. UN’s resolution NO. 1929 passed in 2010 could possibly prohibit Pakistan from having financial transactions with Iran which may result in support to its nuclear programme. Thus the crucial delay on the part of the government has landed Pakistan into serious difficulties. On this count alone possibly a wide-awake opposition in a democratic country could have forced the government to resign. Again by not foreseeing the coming crisis in gas supply, the government has struck fatally at the industry and the transport sector, further damaging the already battered economy and making still more miserable the life of the common men and women. Add to it the power outages resulting in loadshedding and spiraling prices of daily use commodities.

Leaving aside the above-mentioned disastrous mismanagement there are crises of other kinds which hit the core our vital national interests and concerns. Because of its inept handling of affairs, the coalition government led by the PPP finds itself facing serious problems and dilemmas of its own making. First there is the growing confrontation with the military demonstrated in the form of the memogate affair. While there is little doubt that the memo exists, the question of those who conceived, had it drafted and sent to Admiral Mullen in USA has yet to be determined. Ambassador Haqqani’s resignation has added to the general impression that he was involved in the matter. Statements from the highest government functionaries have further muddied the waters. The issue of the relative roles of the parliament and the judiciary has been raised. How the mystery will unfold now depends on the findings of the Commission of senior judges appointed by the Supreme Court.

Memogate, in a sense, has brought up not only the government and military confrontation but also the government’s defiance of the Supreme Court. Defiance and ridiculing of the court’s verdicts and directives have finally resulted in issuing of notices to PPP ministers and some of the officeholders, government having been already driven to a corner after the final rejection of the NRO as a valid piece of legislation. The Supreme Court has shown enormous patience in putting up with the government functionaries’ highly objectionable and provocative behaviour.

Overarching the civil-military and government-judiciary face-off, is the question of increasingly complicated US-Pakistan relations especially after the Salalah attack resulting in the killing of more than two dozen Pakistani military personnel. The inquiry report prepared by a senior officer of the Special Operations group about the incident, as expected, lacks credibility and has been rightly ignored by Pakistan. An element of distrust has entered the relationship between the two countries and there are no appreciable signs of improvement of relations. In fact, the latest unkind cut has come with the passing of the US aid legislation which has practically frozen dollars 700 million meant for Pakistan. Stoppage of containers’ supply to Afghanistan has continued much against US expectations that the supplies would be resumed after sometime. Pakistan has also stuck to its stand, not to start military operation in North Waziristan. US-Pakistan relationship has another crucial dimension. In the end-game there, US has been following a complex approach. While on the one hand, Nato forces are escalating operations in East Afghanistan against the Taliban, on the other, steps have already been taken to start talks with them. The latest development is the setting up of an office for such negotiations in Qatar. This move has been welcomed by Kabul while Pakistan has not been formally associated with it.

To compound the problematic and troublesome situation, there is the dreadful prospect of the economy taking a nosedive. With the energy crisis deepening, law and order conditions worsening and governance going down, by the day, the economic crunch is bound to further weaken the government. With all its resources of imagination and trickery the present rulers in Islamabad, will sooner or later have to call it a day and go for the rising demand for fresh elections. The theatre of the absurd just can’t continue till next year.

    The writer is an ex-federal secretary and ambassador, and  political and international relations analyst.