ONE after the other, different components of the government are realizing their helplessness in dealing with the sugar mill owners. The ball has been moving from one court to another and most of the government functionaries are finding it easy to pass the buck to the other. Earlier, the provincial governments that tried to be tough with the deviant mills were urged by the federal government to halt action on the ground that it would itself find an amicable solution. Things however did not change; sugar remained scarce and costly in the market. The stark reality as confessed by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin summed up the whole situation: the sugar mills lobby was too powerful for the government to take any action against it. Unfortunately, the ray of hope that had arisen after these failures with the Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif's commitment that he would straighten things out with the sugar mills now seems to have receded. He too could not stand ground against the powerful sugar cartel. On Sunday, he turned to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to pull the chestnuts out of fire for him. What is worse, while the government has been unable to muster the courage to bring the defaulters to book, the millers have been turning this weakness to their advantage by threatening to delay sugarcane crushing next season. The sugar crisis is no rocket science. It can be dealt easily if the government simply forces the mills to respect the rule of law.