DELAYING the presentation of the budget by yet another day, Prime Minister Gilani accompanied by several Ministers and an 80-member delegation has reached Madina to hold talks with Saudi King Abdullah. Mr Zardari has joined them to add a political dimension to the talks, which are supposed to concentrate basically on Pakistan's economic needs. With oil and food prices skyrocketing and the country facing a shortfall of $3 billion in current account, budget making would pose serious problems, all the more so when the government is committed to provide relief to the poverty stricken population waiting in a state of high expectation. Despite having reportedly arranged $2 billion in foreign assistance from a number of sources, it continues to suffer from financial crunch. With oil import being the largest contributor to Pakistan's import bill, adding $11billion during the current financial year, 40 percent more than last year's $7.9billion, it is understandable for the government to look for some sort of relief in oil imports. As oil price hits a new record of $138.5 and reports that it could reach $150 by July, the most urgent need is to seek oil under special financing arrangement known as Saudi Oil Facility (SOF) which Pakistan enjoyed for a number of years after 1998. The delegation's composition however indicates that other long gestation projects might be also on the agenda to be taken up with the Saudi government. There is a perception that flush with petrodollars, Riyadh could be persuaded to invest in economic ventures in Pakistan to the benefit of both countries. Among the sectors being mentioned are agriculture, chemical and fertilizer industry, and power production. Similar initiatives need to be taken with other oil-rich Gulf states. While Saudi Arabia and Gulf states are in a position to invest billions of dollars they have accumulated on account of the phenomenal rise in petroleum prices, they are likely to seek guarantees of political stability. The government's inability to provide good governance so far reflects poorly on its performance. There has been a plethora of unjustified and ill-suited appointments. Besides, an urgent resolution of political issues racking the country is called for. The issue of restoring the judges has to be resolved quickly. Political parties have to understand that radical slogans and unending posturing do not go well with mainstream politics. One hopes that harsh economic realities faced by the country would have a sobering effect on coalition partners.