Life is harsh in this - the supposed ‘Land of the Pure’ where outright murder, mayhem, corruption and theft increasingly rule the roost and where – thanks to a succession of criminally inept governments and a surprisingly high percentage of the population who selfishly steal as much as Rs 29 billion of electricity each year – everyone, except those who can afford the luxury of fuel guzzling generators, is suffering from a combination of unprecedented loadshedding and the kind of boiler house temperatures which surely deserve the title of ‘Hotter than Hell’ and – I have news for you – it isn’t going to get any better and, what’s more, we, as a nation, deserve every single bit of suffering aimed in our collective direction.

Strong words you may say with a questioning eyebrow raised towards the heaven you so certainly think will be, when the time comes, yours by right but, as is so often the case, any pretence at innocence will get you nowhere at all as, undoubtedly, each and every sorry – and if they aren’t they damn well should be – individual is equally, although it must be said that, in this case, some are certainly more equal than others, responsible for the disgustingly sick mess the country has sunk into since it was created way back in 1947 and since which time no one has exhibited a modicum of concern for any form of safe, secure, sustainable future and, if the truth be told as it must, even now, in this age of rapid communication and easily accessible information, no one cares enough, other than for their own selfish requirements of course, to initiate serious action to safeguard, let alone improve on, what little is left.

What better example of this can there be than the one which is driving everyone mad right now – loadshedding?

The power, or rather lack of it, situation, did not arrive overnight but has been an obvious inevitability for many years – not the full 66 years of the country’s existence but certainly predictable for at least 50 of these when the population explosion visibly began impacting the always rickety infrastructure on which the economic survival of the country – and its diverse people – ultimately depends. Oh yes – Pakistan can boast of now date expired nuclear power stations, of already outmoded nuclear warheads, of an ever increasing network of substandard roads of which even recently constructed ‘Expressways’ and ‘Motorways’ are already, as a result of crooked contractors who over-ride the designs of eminently capable engineers, falling to bits and, don’t forget the ‘antique’ railway and canal systems which have been neglected and taken for granted since they were built back in the days when people took some pride in their work- days, it goes without saying, long before Pakistan was even thought of…..but…solar power, wind power, bio-gas units…where are these when alternative energy is the need of the hour? These – and more – should have been introduced many, many years ago and those involved in this field now, smelling vast profits as they do – should be forced, somehow, to market their energy solutions at rates affordable to all.

The Pakistani attitude of ‘laissez faire’ – a term more usually applied to government abstention from interference with individual action – is, in this instance, applicable to the entire nation which has, unreservedly, developed an attitude of ‘Leave it be - someone else will sort it out’ and left it at that and, the current supposedly ‘responsible’ generation has inherited, with few exceptions, exactly the same attitude – an attitude which may have been acceptable at some point in pre-Industrial Revolution history but which is most definitely far from applicable now.

The country, along with everything and everyone in it, is highly dependable, directly or indirectly and somewhere along the line, on oil much - not all - of which is imported at astronomical cost and which fuels industry, commerce, transport and a very large percentage of that current bug-bear – electricity. Quite aside from government failure to pay Pakistan State Oil for services and supplies rendered and on which electricity generating and distribution companies mostly depend, there is, one the one hand, a very much neglected, old and outmoded distribution system lacking in essential upgradation and maintenance and, on the other, those amongst who see absolutely nothing wrong in stealing as much of this increasingly scarce electricity as they possibly can and, unsurprisingly with people’s mindsets being what they are these days, the thieves are not just poor people who cannot afford to pay their utility bills but include educated middle class and the affluent too and very few of any of these are, if they are apprehended, seriously brought to book which, this is to be expected, only encourages others to follow suit.

The very same applies to that ultra precious commodity without which any life form, no matter how low or high they consider themselves to be, cannot survive and which, thanks to manmade climate change, is rapidly vanishing. There can be no ‘thing’ – no human, animal, bird, plant life or otherwise without water yet, even after over six decades, an astronomical percentage of the population does not have access to potable water but, at the same time, those who do, waste it like there is no tomorrow which, unless attitudes change, will be the case!

Lack of potable water, water wastage, water theft – this on the home, industrial and agricultural fronts, uncontrolled water pollution, a massive shortfall in water storage facilities et al, will, in the not too distant future, bring the country to its knees but – laissez faire – someone else will sort it out – if – that is – there is anyone left to do it!

The writer is author of The Gun Tree:  One Woman’s War (Oxford University Press, 2001)     and lives in Bhurban.