Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired a cabinet meeting on Monday to discuss issues related to the country’s economy and energy crisis. The PML-N had promised to bring electricity back within months after forming the government. No one really believed Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif when during the election campaign he claimed that his party would end load-shedding within six months if elected to power. His wish came true. However, the people are still waiting for their prayers to be answered. But the government’s performance so far has disappointed everyone including those with low expectations. Minister for Defence and Minister for Water and Power are the same person. Khwaja Muhammad Asif’s day either comprises of 48 hours or he’s expected to multitask like only a mother can. Either way, the energy crisis remains unsolved, and the government only has MOUs and paperwork to show to the people. Add to this allegations of corruption involving the notorious Saif-ur-Rehman who is yet to outlive his usefulness.

Reportedly, it was for the first time during the meeting on Monday that the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor (PCEC) was discussed and approved by the cabinet. It is interesting to note that the approval has come after work has already been initiated on one of the sections of the PCEC, which reveals much about the cabinet’s role under PM Sharif. There are no brainstorming sessions, extensive debates or scrutiny of policies. They hardly ever meet, and when they do, it is to rubber stamp whatever is put before them. Now that the cabinet is onboard, the government may like to engage political parties opposed to the PCEC route alignment. Do they have genuine concerns or are they merely playing politics over an issue of national significance? Whatever the case is, it is the government’s responsibility to bring them around.

The cabinet also discussed the issue of alleged horse-trading prior to Senate elections. The PM formed a four-member committee to suggest reforms to curb horse-trading. It was proposed during the meeting that changing the process from secret balloting to show of hands might help. It might. But it would be far more helpful if the political leadership including Nawaz Sharif stopped promoting and endorsing the practice. After all, it is a problem created by political parties, which seek to maximise seats by hook or by crook. Of course, it cannot be done without the approval of the top leadership of each party. The four-member committee may request the PM and other political leaders to mend their ways. It might not work, but it’s worth a try.