Tallat Azim Ramazan is behind us and with it the best excuse for sheer sloth and laziness. Agreed, that the great majority in the Islamic Republic befuddle through the remaining 11 months too, but the way they, and I speak with particular reference to the salaried class, pounce on this one month as a Godsend for not working is something else altogether Going to work late, breaking off much earlier than normal and being and/or acting brain dead is the order of the day throughout the month. The entire period is a countdown to Eid and more holidays and, of course, bonus salaries. The mathematics of the situation defies all logic - getting more money for less work. Meanwhile, the most favourite time of the day, all around, in this month are the Iftar dinner feasts organised by many organisations. The lavish spending as well as the collective hogging at these events is almost vulgar when you compare it to the ground reality of the teeming millions who cannot afford two square meals. This fact was brought home with a force by the electronic media this year, which showed mayhem of epic proportions at all the sasta bazaars, set-up at vantage points, as well as the unending queues for flour and sugar. It was extremely distressing to watch millions struggling to get the basic necessities for keeping body and soul together at affordable prices on the numerous news channels which have become an addiction. The only news diversion in the holy month, and Allah be praised for it, was brought in by Meera's marriage or non-marriage, depending on which side you are on The representatives of political parties continued to shout and scream at each other down in TV talk shows daily, a la Firdaus Ashiq Awan (Not for nothing are the ratings of current affairs programmes higher than those of entertainment channels in the vibrant Islamic Republic) But alas, it leads one to wonder that if all the Parties are spending all their time settling scores and getting even, where is the planning for the betterment of the beleaguered Pakistani nation being done. What are the short-term and long-term preparations being made by the democratically elected representatives to stem all sorts of rot. Why does wasteful spending of the taxpayer's money continue unabated, despite the yearning of the people for a visible display of austerity by the elected government? Even though the shopkeepers turned a deaf ear to the check on prices, the bazaars did pick-up on festivity towards the end of the month. Most citizens and cities, including Swat, displayed a sense of liberation and relief at seeing a light under the tunnel where the war on extremism is concerned. One can almost hope again, for a time in the near future, when we will also be putting down extremism through rejoicing and celebrating in our folk culture, colourful customs, revival of festivals, mushairas and qawalis - all of which have taken a back seat or have been abandoned by the scare of the suicide bomber. It would be wonderful to see the Ministry of Culture as well as interested organisations and individuals chalking out a calendar of activities which could be a source of some much-needed joy for everyone in the months ahead. The role that the Coke Studio is playing, for example, in bridging the gap between traditional and modern music is amazing. It is actually equipping our next generation, on the English medium (of education) side of the divide, with a better understanding of the richness of our varied and indigenous culture, languages, and musical heritage. The Holy month concluded with the saga of the Ruet-e-Hilal Committee, the sighting of the moon with the naked eye, and the celebration of two Eids in the country I am surprised that no one has, as yet, pointed fingers at the USA on this one for conspiring to divide and rule by infiltrating the Ruet-e-Hilal Committee. Much has already been said about the mess so I don't even want to go there But one cannot help but notice that, as this is their one chance in a year to stay in the limelight, the Ruet-e-Hilal really takes its time to announce whether the moon has been sighted or not. The build-up speech is so long-winded that you loose thread in the middle and switch off mentally, preferring to catch the yes or no on the headlines later. Post Script: Amidst the doom and gloom, I am compelled to state the one positive that I witnessed on Chand Raat. Out for a drive in the crowded and happening Jinnah Market in the Capital, I saw the alert and smart Traffic Police handling the massive traffic influx very well with no blockage anywhere. Leading and monitoring the action from the front was the newly appointed SSP Traffic Moeen Masud himself. Although not in uniform, the SSP Traffic kept an eye on all proceedings and I saw him giving verbal, on-spot instructions to his department on duty. May we be blessed with more hands-on officers like him in all our areas, who actually walked the walk instead of talking the talk The writer is a freelance columnist.