The government is firm about its pledges made to the masses and is fighting the menaces of economic decline, internal strife, terrorism and global expectations with courage and sagacity There can be no alternate to austerity particularly in a country confronted with financial crunch. Likewise, there is no alternate to massive global interaction the like of which was witnessed during the last few months with our President Asif All Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, sparing no moment in reaching out to friends and well-wishers throughout the world for proving their (the friends') sincerity towards a sincere ally (Pakistan). Yes, it is simply a question of reciprocity although peculiar mindsets do sometimes impede smooth and honourable interaction given the complexes attached to the status and 'placing' enjoyed by different states in the comity of nations. Let us elaborate this point. It simply means that a highly advanced state would not treat other states as equals or peers rather it would look down upon the weaker and less developed states with a somewhat arrogant mindset typical of major powers. In these given conditions, if any country or its leadership manages to win over the confidence, concrete pledges and financial assistance, it should be taken for a marvel instead of being painted negatively and sceptically as excess or extravaganza, to quote a few critics who have seen only one side of the coin with reference to foreign visits of our Islamabad leaders. One will have to understand the world atmosphere in entirety to understand the significance of these foreign visits especially those of Zardari and Gilani. For all practical purposes, these visits were aimed at repairing the damage caused to our economy for want of a failsafe mechanism that could keep the things (and the economy) going without any sharp ups and downs caused by the transfer of power as well as caused by heightened tensions created by escalation in acts of terrorism at a greater number of places including the spots that already constitute flashpoints of the contemporary times. The fact is that Gilani government had come across so many odds and difficulties all at the same time, that too from day one. These could have unnerved the government superiors had they not showed composure and worked incessantly to muster support " including finances " from different sources. And sources are not always readily available nor is the willingness factor so easy to handle. All this needs big, sustained endeavours even if the country has to spend Rs 80 million in four months in prime minister's foreign visits. The focus should rather be on results. Even the economic giants are in trouble. In these circumstances, if Islamabad has been successful in mobilising 'Friends of Pakistan' and other friends, it should be taken with hope instead of with despair. Despair is not at all justified in the backdrop of this successful interaction that should also be viewed as an endeavour in earnest to extricate the people of Pakistan from abject poverty before it takes over at a mass scale. No doubt, the people are upset over the price hike but then some good news too have started coming in the form of recently reduced prices of edible oil and, above all, of petroleum products. But that doesn't imply that the government is backtracking on its promise of roti, kapra aur makaan. It is very much firm about its pledges made to the masses and is fighting the menaces of economic decline, internal strife, terrorism and global expectations with courage and sagacity. What spells hope is the fact that both President Zardari and PM Gilani are very much careful about taking major decisions. Caution is exercised in going it alone. Special emphasis is given to taking decisions with the concurrence of other stakeholders including majority stakeholders in the present dispensation. Even politicians from outside the ruling Pakistan Peoples' Party loop are consulted. That is being done not to justify any act of the government but to arrive at sane decisions in complex situations. Here, it won't be out of place to mention another important measure taken by PPP-led government and that is the allocation of a huge amount of Rs 34 billion for providing support to the people living below poverty line. This governmental move has received countrywide recognition particularly because the poorest of the poor can't wait for years for seeing the implementation of long-term policies for boosting national economy or industrial-cum-agricultural growth. The poorest of the poor need immediate relief on a short-term basis that should always be provided side by side with pursuing long-term policies for the strengthening of economy and enhancement of productivity. This clearly shows the government's determination to help alleviate the sufferings of the downtrodden. Reports have come that more steps are being contemplated to make the dream of roti, kapra aur makaan come true in the foreseeable future. The writer is a freelance columnist