Over the years, our ruling elite has acquired the habit of making foreign trips at the slightest pretext while accompanied by 80-100 people for a holiday at state expense. It reminds one of the Moghul emperors of yore who used to travel with their entire coterie of the court and officialdom of the royal administration. The aim was no more than to impress their poor subjects with this pomp and show. It is said that General Musharraf and his PM made about 100 such trips each, most of them without any specific purpose even as they cost millions of dollars to the taxpayer. In fact, these useless junkets may have been the unnecessary distractions that kept them from paying attention to the more important national problems such as power generation and building of dams by India on our rivers in Kashmir. They conveniently slept over these series problems for nine long years. Now we are faced with an unprecedented power and economic crisis, as well as an ominous impending water drought that India is planning to impose upon us. Alas, they were not sincere with the country. Going around the world in lavish style with a begging bowl in hand is pointless. It does not impress anyone. -DR ZULFIQAR HAIDER, Lahore, via e-mail, May 24.