It is as if Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour is on a triumphal progress leading towards achieving for the Railways what his party, the ANP, wants: its closure. As it is, Railways is teetering on the brink of disaster. On Tuesday, 54 short-distance trains were shut down for want of fuel, while 102 trains were shut down because of a shortage of locomotives, meaning that 156 of 206 trains had to be shut down. Further, hundreds of workers and pensioners have not been paid their salaries despite the 10th day of protest. Meanwhile, according to Railways officials, they could not get a meeting with the President on Tuesday for a team headed by Mr Bilour himself. After electricity and thermal power stations, PSO is also at the centre of the Railways problem. Cheaper than road for people, which is often not a competitor, Railways is unrivalled for goods, especially in bulk. This is one reason why it is considered so important for the defence of the country, which has become vital now that there is a possibility of US invasion. This also provides the ANP a reason to destroy the Railways, for anything that weakens Pakistan pleases India, which the ANP tries to please in continuance of the policy started by Bacha Khan. The ANP is always dangerous because of India, but even more so when a Congress government is in power, as now. It is symptomatic that the shortage of engines is to be met from India. However, the provision of engines alone will not turn around the fortunes of that organisation. That needs Railways not to be regarded as a cash cow meant only to be milked, and as a source of luxurious living for its officials. Though Railways routes, if run properly, would be profitable, that would require ending the waste and extravagance that is such a burden on the Railways. Ending that would mean providing it the firm administration that it has not got, and at the ministerial level. However, even if Mr Bilour was capable of providing it, he would not, preferring that the Railways sink, and prove unable to play its due role in national life, which is the extremely vital one of uniting the federation. The federal government must change the Minister, selecting one for his administrative ability, and remove this vital department from the purview of a party which is inimical to Pakistan, and which still obeys foreign masters. In the meanwhile, it should be ready to make whatever cash injections necessary, once it is shown that they will not be used merely to prolong for a few more days the luxurious lifestyle that has become its hallmark, but to support efforts at change.