The anger in the Pakistani public is growing. The moment we see a rising trend where more and more people take to the streets to solve their grievances, we are reminded that public confidence in the ability of government and state institutions is waning and their frustration is growing. More dangerously, once mob power becomes the norm to achieve ends, the trend can spiral into anything. Pakistan, which is already struggling economically, can ill afford such adventures that tend to create instability. That is why it is so important for this government to start delivering on the economic front before it gets too late Given the serious human resource constraint in Pakistani politics, many amongst us are beginning to simply question the ability of Pakistani democracy to deliver good governance on a sustainable basis. However, one is often reminded time and again by the desperate political players that even an un-democratic thought is tantamount to blasphemy and how even the worst democracy is better than any other form of government - Point taken, but the question remains that if so, then for whom? Also, one is willing to ignore their kiddish rivalries, pompous personas and grant them their steep perks and fancy flag cars, but it is quite annoying to note that, when it comes to addressing the real issues, it is all rhetoric and no substance. Governance being handed out lacks any measure of micro management depth with the result that even if the direction and intent are correct, implementation failures end up making matters worse than before. There is no trick to be a humourist when you have the whole government working for you ~ Woody Allen. Now relate this to an announcement of a few back days by our government circles that GDP growth rate target is being revised upward to 3.50 percent for 2010 and one cant help but laugh. All around us, we see total gloom and doom with regard to any meaningful economic activity and amidst this tough setting the economic managers have the cheek to make such claims. They need to be told that as if the absence of electricity for more than 12 hours a day was not bad enough, we now have a situation where the natural (Sui) gas supplies also stand disconnected for as many as three days in a week and that too in the main industrial centres of the country. By rough estimates a closure in the textile spinning sector alone causes an activity loss of Rs 2 billion over 12 hours; based on this official circles are welcome to do their own permutations, which will only tell them that closures of up to 120 hours a week in the entire national industrial base (within which textile spinning is roughly 5 percent of GDP and total textile sector accounts for between 10-12 percent) will generate a compounded negative effect on economic activity using a multiple of eight for every rupee lost. If my mathematics serves me right the monthly loss will amount to nearly 10 percent of the total budgetary lay out, and if you have a quarter (3 months) of such disruptions in a year, it means an erosion of nearly 30 percent outlay - in effect resulting in a negative growth rate The challenges, unfortunately, dont stop here. Add to this: a) A looming food shortage due to a projected slump in the overall agri-produce of Pakistan owing to absence of timely rains and Indian terrorism breaching bilateral water treaties blatantly; b) Incompetent supply side management of food essentials by the government; c) Rising global oil price; d) Stubborn inflation; and e) A declining value of the Pak Rupee, and the outlook becomes even more depressing. To make matters worse, bad news is coming from where least expected. One would have thought that in spite of all the disadvantages of having to engage with the IMF, at least one good thing of this relationship would be fiscal prudence? Sadly not to be, as the recent State Banks report reveals that circular debt is rising and no longer just limited to the power sector but also engulfs the agriculture sector, public borrowing from financial institutions is at an all time high (so much so that as a result the private sector stands visibly squeezed for finance) and last but not least the very composition of the fiscal space is turning unhealthy by being comprised more and more of profit funds rather than revenue collection. Today, the Pakistani public is perhaps feeling not much different than those of Iceland. Duped by the brinkmanship of their leaders in the pre-recession era of loose credit and unbridled globalisation, both are struggling to reconcile themselves to decades of debt repayment, high taxation and budget cuts on basic public spending. Though we walk on an almost identical road to recovery, the results are not the same. While they seem to be cantering their way out of trouble we, on the other hand, are slipping backwards. Icelands economy has become buoyant, market confidence has returned and debt per se has come down vide their debt retirement support arrangement with the IMF, whereas, exactly the reverse has happened in our case. Governance, as portrayed by the rising incidents of revenue waste and leaks, is today our main problem. Rising fiscal debt, shrinking economic activity, increasing unemployment, feared resource waste, stubborn inflation and growing inadequacy of domestic resources to meet national needs are all very worrying signs. The growing perception that most of these are governance-triggered is something we need to tackle not just for us but also for the international community. Donors and Friends (of Democratic Pakistan) will not come forward with their support till such time that they feel their funds are going in competent hands and will be well spent. Democracy is great, but a system one dare say is as good as its results and then within systems there can be overlaps and adjustments relating to environment, culture, history, religion, demography and geographical realities. Not long ago all our Western friends just couldnt stop bad mouthing China; however, time has proved that the Chinese cocktail of capitalism and authority may just be the best model for the world to follow