The inability of the two main political parties constituting the coalition government to resolve their differences and get on with the business of the state with some seriousness, provided a credible opportunity to President Pervez Musharaf to come out of his self imposed hibernation of the last few months and lecture a responsive audience of his cronies and businessmen of Karachi on good governance. The 2008 budget has already been branded by most economists as a continuation of the old policies except that it failed to anticipate the severity of the upcoming economic crunch. The delays in implementing fiscal controls to reduce trade deficit that has climbed to a record 20 billion dollars and control the decline of rupee that fell to 73 to a dollar, the compulsion of a gradual elimination of subsidies as demanded by the donors and to pass on the resultant inflationary burdens have subjected the common citizens to unbearable hardships instead of providing relief, food and shelter to the poor. The operation in Khyber agency followed the same script as routinely staged by the previous government with monotonous regularity on the eve of a visit of the officials of American state department to Islamabad and came as an about turn on the much trumpeted policy claims of negotiating political solutions of disputes in the tribal areas after debating in the national assembly, by political representatives of the people. Our security forces continue to be stationed in the tribal areas firing occasional shots where the war lords run parallel governments, unperturbed by their presence and routinely kidnapping or killing innocent people. The incidents of terrorism have revived once again after brief post general elections calm, with bombings in Islamabad and Karachi where the terrorist organizations executed their attacks with precision and total impunity from ever being detected or caught. The public needs reassurance of a better future as a result of the elected people in-charge of governance and a democratic system put in place that promised to take care of the downtrodden and to usher the nation to new heights of prosperity and development. Unfortunately, these do not appear to be forthcoming. All indicators projected in the media are downhill. The political instability and deteriorating law and order situation has put a damper on any foreign investment, export growth is static and even local investors are shy of putting money in new industrial projects. The rupee devaluation has raised our external debt liability by more than five billion dollars and capital flight has accelerated. The ratings of our country have slid to the lowest ever due to weak projections on all counts. The international financial institutions are reluctant to lend for new public projects and have even withheld disbursements of various funds that were already in the pipeline. Where are the people who are supposed to lead us to a bright future? Would the foreign tours and addressing inconsequential international conferences bring prosperity to our nation? Should the people in authority not be working round the clock attending to the acute problems at home and not be seen to be entertaining themselves with not a care in the world while the common people suffer in intense heat of the days and dark nights due to power shortages, unable to feed themselves with even one decent meal a day? The nation is in the grip of a national crisis with the scarcity of food, fuel, utilities, basic amenities, personal security and an out of control situation on our borders. The leaders must provide a credible leadership by owning these problems for themselves if they wish to win any place in the hearts and minds of the public. The present government must restore the sovereignty of this proud and intelligent Pakistani nation that has been pledged cheaply to the Americans without any pre-conditions, by renegotiating the terms of reference of our assistance in their war. Likewise, our internal sovereignty has been robbed by small groups of insurgents as a direct result of our dubious role in Afghanistan . This bunch of misguided fellow citizens must be wooed by perpetual dialogue involving their tribesmen and acceding to their demands even if we have to swallow our pride and the costs are high. We can not talk of freedom and independence unless we look inwards, rely upon our own plentiful human, mineral and natural resources and look to outside help only for technology that we lack. We are victims of socialist slogans with a capitalist and feudal system and mindset, unable to convert our words into deeds. It is time that we realistically acknowledge our modest position in the comity of nations and adopt austerity in place of ostentation and false pretense of grandeur that we would like but do not possess. Our biggest asset is the human resource that sadly stays largely untapped and undeveloped. A large section of our people exists at the lowest stratum under the suppressed tribal or feudal cultures. Their tremendous potential must be exploited by inducting them into the mainstream system of education and opportunities. The gap of disparity between the rich and poor must be narrowed by rapidly expanding the middle class that forms the backbone of any civilized society and all regions of the country must be treated evenly and at par. This can be achieved only by decentralizing and strengthening the local bodies that should be entrusted with all local development with the legislators closely monitoring their performance. The emphasis from executing grand unproductive projects and further beautifying the mega cities must be diverted to a network of smaller, contemporary and properly designed basic projects like farm to market roads, schools, health centers, utilities, communication and entertainment, to the far flung and rural areas. With the provision of these basic amenities and creation of decent job opportunities locally, the undesirable rural to urban exodus can be minimized releasing pressure on major cities transforming these remote areas blessed with great natural beauty attractive for tourism and to live in. The representatives of these areas have a duty to assert themselves to procure funds by presenting workable schemes to the government and be vigilant in ensuring proper utilization of the allocations and speedy execution of the schemes. The alleviation of poverty, economic uplift of these areas and removal of sense of deprivation are the only ways to progress and to bring order in our country. Only a strong and productive nation can command respect and we are neither at present. We need basic education for all and a large network of skill development and technical excellence centers throughout the country to raise productivity and work ethics. It is the responsibility of the rulers to attract our abundant talent that has flown abroad but would return to the homeland with their expertise and capital at the slightest encouragement. Policy should be shifted from conventional products to result oriented innovation and engineering at the small and medium levels in the private sector that must be provided financial and administrative support by the government.   President Musharaf is a great orator and a great charmer. But he never fulfilled any of his promises, selected all the wrong people around him, kept the entire nation hostage for eight long years and destroyed the few institutions that this country was able to retain. Yet, he still wields such power single handedly that has outshined the 165 million people's power.