A newspaper photograph showing a punctured water pipeline throwing up a geyser of water in Islamabad and a telephone call from a friend prompted me to take a drive on Simly Dam Road in suburban Islamabad. As I crossed the rural community known as Phulgran, I saw what appeared to be a mob ahead. A nearer look revealed an astonishing sight – a fountain of water and spray was rising almost thirty feet into the air and the ‘mob’ was a multitude of locals, who had come to the spot to beat the scorching heat and cool themselves since there was no water or electricity in their homes. I also discovered that the high pressure water leakage in the pipe had occurred five days ago without evoking a response from the concerned department within the Capital Development Authority.

I was irked at the apathetical attitude of the CDA officials, who were mandated (through salaries and perks) to provide and maintain provision of water to citizens of the Federal Capital. My ire was aggravated by the fact that potable water was being wasted by the hour and the rivulet running down the road was liable to ruin the surface resulting in additional repair and public expenditure. It was after almost a week of ‘inept’ inactivity and loss of what must have been large quantities of a precious resource that someone in the right office woke up and the geyser was capped.

It was then that I decided to see what issues were plaguing Islamabad’s rural and suburban residents. I found that some homes lying three to four kilometers from the main Sui Gas pipeline on Simly Dam Road were without gas. Enquiries revealed that residents had once approached the authorities concerned, but had been told that they would have to self-fund the laying of gas pipes to their communities. If residents were to be believed, then an atrociously large amount was quoted by the gas company contractors, forcing people to shy away from further efforts towards acquiring the utility. I could only sympathize with these families in the knowledge that since the phrase ‘good governance’ appeared to have disappeared from government dictionaries, these homes would remain without natural gas for years to come.

It was just yesterday that I got a call from a relative, who lives with her family in DHA Lahore. The caller appeared extremely agitated because of the heat and the fact that there was no electricity. It was in this distraught state of mind that the lady had picked up the phone and dialled my number for no other reason but having a sympathetic ear who’d listen. With ‘real feel’ temperatures bordering 47 degrees celsius and no power, the residents of Punjab’s Capital City could only hurl curses at the two siblings who ruled the roost in Lahore and Islamabad. The situation reminds one of another ‘emperor’ who thought he could rebuild a great city over the ruins of the old one. It was thus that Nero sat playing the proverbial musical instrument, while Rome burned. In an interesting similarity, our own rulers appeared intent upon building motorways and Metros, oblivious of other more important, high priority initiatives.

“I remain just one thing, and one thing only, and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plane than any politician”, said the celebrated Charlie Chaplin. I would have been happy if our political leaders and their blind followers had simply been clowns and not ‘dangerous clowns.’ I am forced to make this comment because at a time when the Pakistan Army is fighting a war for the country’s survival and needs total stability on the home front, there are political entities that are bringing the political kettle to boiling point. I would implore the parties planning a revolution and the ‘Azaadi March’, to defer their activities till such time that the ongoing war comes to its logical conclusion – if not for anything else, then for the sake of our future and theirs.

 The writer is a freelance columnist.