Azam Khalil To climb up steep hills requires slow pace at first. - Shakespeare Recently, the politicians of this country agreed to amend the constitution, which was commended as the best thing that had ever happened after its framing in 1973. Even the political parties that are not represented in the National Assembly or the Senate, by and large, lent their support to the democratic forces that successfully built on a consensus leading to the passage of the 18th Constitutional Amendment in the National Assembly. However, as the bill was being debated in the Senate serious riots broke out in parts of the Frontier province. As a result, unfortunately, over a 100 people were injured while several were killed. This is a serious aberration, and if the politicians had shown the same political sagacity while passing the 18th Amendment in the Assembly, the present situation that has developed in Hazara Division could have been avoided. Nevertheless, this tragic incident has also exposed the weakness of the ANP government as it was neither prepared for the riots, nor it had done its homework wherein it could have avoided the present situation. Apparently, the provincial government should have negotiated earlier with those who are now protesting in the streets. It is understood that saner elements in the government and those in the opposition were trying to bring different political elements on the negotiating table. However, it is expected that the issue may be resolved as soon as tempers calm down, which increased because of the deaths that occurred during the clashes with the police. On the hindsight, this situation can also spread to the other areas within the country where communities may be demanding, though silently, for the establishment of separate provinces. That definitely may not be feasible keeping in view the resources and administrative difficulties, which may arise in case the demand for separate provinces is accepted by the government. Rather it would be better that the country is allowed to move on in the direction where it becomes possible to address pressing economic problems that are being faced by the people of Pakistan. As all major political players had agreed on the issue of the 18th Amendment, it was expected that the government of the day would now devote all its energies, and harness the available resources, for the betterment of the people of this country. Everyone is aware that serious issues like unemployment, scarcity of water and lack of electric supply were impeding the progress of Pakistan. Besides this, if we take into account the war against terror that has engaged a sizeable portion of the Pakistan army, which in itself is a very costly affair, it would be easy to understand that without national unity it will not be possible to pull the country out of the present mess that has been created by successive military rulers. But this does not mean that the present government can be absolved of all responsibility, as it has now been more than two years since the coalition government of the Pakistan Peoples Party came into power. And, yet, it has not been able to make any substantial contribution that could have resulted in the alleviation of the sufferings of poor Pakistanis. It is, therefore, of paramount importance that the political maturity and the spirit of accommodation and compromise, which was displayed earlier by the democratic forces of the country, should continue so that conducive atmosphere is created that can then lead to the tackling of issues that affect the everyday lives of citizens. In case this spirit of accommodation and reconciliation is lost, it will result in a rapid deterioration in all the important institutions. And this erosion will seriously damage the institution of democracy in Pakistan. At the same time, it is extremely important that all the major players, including major institutions, work in harmony within the orbits of the constitution. This will then help to strengthen the institution of democracy and would also help to stabilise the economy of Pakistan. Once this has been achieved, it will become relatively easier for the federal and provincial governments to pay attention to the problems of the common man, which have already been delayed ensuing a serious risk of discontent and social unrest in the country. One hopes that the government is able to fix priorities in a way that would rapidly provide relief to the people and improve the quality of life. This can only be achieved, if the country moves in the right direction so that the objectives can be accomplished as quickly as possible. Moreover, the present government will have to devise a strategy that can ensure that the troops fighting the insurgency, in the tribal areas, will finish their job and return quickly to the barracks. To achieve this, it would be essential to follow a right mix of politics, security and reconstruction, and simultaneously increase the level of awareness among the people who live in the insurgency affected areas. Once peace has returned, the sluggish growth of Pakistans economy could take off, thus, ensuring that the fruits of development are evenly distributed especially amongst those sections of society that are bracketed as the have-nots. Then again, it is not only the incumbent government that will have to work with honesty of purpose, but other political forces would also have to join hands with them so that a good example can be set by the democratic forces in enacting the 18th Amendment. This example could, in the foreseeable future, allow the country to stand on its feet. As the country progresses only then the prosperity of its citizens can be ensured. The writer is a freelance columnist. Email:zarnatta@hotmail.com