What is politics? Every citizen experiencing the implications of governments will have a personal perspective on what is meant by this term. In the pre-recession era, the US nationals had a different perception of politics, as did the Russians before the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

In Pakistan, politics is viewed and used as a licence to misuse the power entrusted to elected public representatives. The consistency of utilising politics to loot and plunder the nation is commendable. Corrupt politicians have attained great heights, as new and innovative ways are designed to extract billions from the national exchequer. At times, the intricacies of the legalities between rules and regulations, looting and corruption become too delicate to detect, define and differentiate.

A recurrent clip on a local television channel shows the Prime Minister stating on the floor of Parliament that only four State vehicles accompany him, as he drives his own car. While a second clip on the screen shows a motorcade of dozens of vehicles comprising the Prime Minister’s convoy, while the entire traffic is halted and inconvenienced. It is contrasted with another clip of the British Prime Minister’s cavalcade not even comprising a handful of cars travelling alongside the regular traffic and making routine stops at all red lights without inconveniencing the public. What the chief executive of this country is doing is contrary to what he is saying and it amounts to misstatement of the ground reality.

The Prime Minister envisages facilities for Parliaments “just like Washington”, but there is no vision or plan for the common man. “Just like Washington” were the exact words used by him on the launch of luxury lodges accommodation for parliamentarians in Islamabad. They would be connected to Parliament through a tunnel or a train to minimise the exposure of parliamentarians for security reasons. Security for the elected representatives is prime, but for the citizens dispensable. Indeed, the standards for public and public representatives are poles apart.

Furthermore, the present government has played havoc with public sector institutions, like PIA, Pakistan Railways, Steel Mills, NICL, and OGDC. Pakistan Steel Mills was an organisation running in profit when this government took over and now it is recording losses in billions. National capital is simply disappearing into the rulers’ pockets, as reiterated in daily talk shows. For instance, when the President was asked a question in an interview with a local TV channel about Indus Airways and Faryal Talpur, the President - being the figurehead in a parliamentary system - retorted that he directs the concerned Minister to cancel the licence of this new airline, even if awarded on genuine grounds due to inconvenience being caused to his family and the entity awarded the licence can go to the court and seek justice. Is Pakistan, its institutions and the citizens a joke for the rulers of this country?

No wonder, we are facing a phenomenon of de-industrialisation in Pakistan. The political leaders are supposed to give a vision of industrialisation, but what is happening here is unprecedented in history. The energy crisis has hit the domestic sector hard after closing down of the industry in Punjab following the suspension of gas supply. Loadshedding of gas to the industrial sector in other provinces is also causing grave problems. Instead of creating job employment, unfortunately, the already employed workforce is being sent home.

Meanwhile, the gas supply being given to the domestic sector is insufficient to allow for daily household cooking and heating during the peak of the winter season. The routine inflation bomb is regularly hurled at the population in the garb of petrol, gas and power hike, food prices, etc, which then have a trickledown effect on all other commodities in the market. In the four years, since coming to power this government has failed to alleviate the energy crises.

Next, the Rental Power Plant (RPP) project was not a feasible solution, as established by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) report, but was pursued to the benefit of a bunch of beneficiaries causing huge losses to the national exchequer. A Federal Minister of this government is a witness in the RPPs corruption case in the Supreme Court against the implementation of the RPP plan. Sadly, the national coal deposits were not seriously considered, as a source for energy.

Needless to say, solar energy offers an instant and simple solution for the production of electricity. DIY kits are available off the counter in departmental stores in developed countries, which do not have an energy shortage issue, but there is no strategy to make solar energy available to the domestic consumer at reasonable rates. If tax incentives and subsidies are provided in this sector, both the domestic and industrial sector can benefit from solar energy, which is a low cost option to produce energy in the long-term. The affording citizen is being given no choice to pay for his own solar power generation for which no national level investment is required, perhaps, because it will not benefit third parties through hefty commissions.

Next, this government did not even spare the honourable pilgrims and the Haj Scam is the height of disgrace for any Islamic democratic government. The Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) is a highly questionable programme to disburse the nation’s funds. Reportedly, Bait-ul-Maal is yet another institution distributing funds on party basis. According to a report aired on a television channel, 28 CNG station licences from over 500 licences given in the tenure of this government were awarded to just one MNA when the national gas reserves were fast depleting.

Today the government, military, Supreme Court and the opposition are at crossroads. The six options given by the apex court clearly hint at the malicious practices indulged in by the incumbent government and its rulers. Earlier, the democratic governments of the two largest political parties have been terminated on corruption charges through the imposition of martial law. Instead of learning lessons from the mistakes committed, the political elite continue to indulge in political revenge from the masses.

The failure of governance has exposed the hidden intentions and priorities of the federal government, which boasts of its successes concerning the NFC Award, Balochistan Package and 18th Amendment to hide its total failure on the economic front. Its cosmetic wins are insufficient to bail it out in the next general elections. The major ruling party has been severely let down by its forerunners and the collapse of governance is a testament that there is no Bhutto remaining to lead the party and the country.

    The writer is an ex-assistant commissioner Income Tax, IT and Change Management consultant and a Public Sector Management analyst.

    Email: drsaniachaudhry@gmail.com