For a nation so obsessed with celebrating non-events every now and then, it was unusual this year to let two important anniversarial occasions slip by quietly without any public jubilation or ceremonies. The electronic media alone filled the void by covering both events in a befitting manner. The media especially focused on the governance failures and miscarriages during the first year of the elected government and assemblies. The Pakistan Day on 23rd March marking the passing of historic Pakistan Resolution and the 1st anniversary of the elected government in Pakistan after Last year's February 18 elections were both marked by absence of national celebrations of any sorts or scale. Instead, Basant was celebrated as a national festival in Punjab under an arbitrary Governor Rule. This year, the day of 23rd March did start with traditional but inaudible 31-gun salute in the federal capital and 21-gun salutes in all the provincial capitals. After morning prayers, "special prayers were said to have been offered for the integrity, solidarity and prosperity of the country, unity of Muslim ummah and the wellbeing of the people." How blind we always are in our conviction and faith that our prayers alone will bring "prosperity" to our country, wellbeing to our people and unity to the Muslim ummah? Why doesn't God listen to our prayers? Perhaps a special meeting of the Friends of Pakistan might help us in probing this matter. This year, the Prime Minister did address a solo message to the nation. He had only a few days earlier demonstrated to the nation the prowess of his "executive authority" when confronted with the people's Long March he ordered the immediate restoration of the deposed judges of the superior courts. Last year, in his first speech in the National Assembly, he had shown a similar courage by ordering the immediate release of all detained judges who were put under house arrest by General Musharraf after he imposed his November 3 "extra-constitutional" emergency. The Prime minister's Pakistan Day message this year was no different from that of last year or even the years before the last one. As always, it was a ritualistic message drafted at the level of Grade 17 bureaucrats or perhaps even more junior level in the Ministry of Information. In this message, the Prime Minister called for "national unity and integrity" and asked the nation to look into our souls and hearts, and use the occasion for stock-taking to assess our national failures and successes. Unfortunately, it is not in our nature to look into our souls and hearts. Self-righteous as we always are, we do not want to be reminded of our failures or shortcomings. Both as rulers and the ruled, we are totally averse to being regretful or repentant over our acts of omission and commission. We don't take any thing to heart. Look, how shamelessly we swallowed the tragedy of 1971, the worst that could happen to any country or a nation. But let us follow the Prime Minister's advice and do some stock-taking to assess the failures of our leaders and miscarriages of our governance. A full generation's life-time is now behind us as an independent nation. Many of us who belong to the first generation that saw and experienced the formative phase of Pakistan and its creation as a dream of its founding fathers, are often reminded of what the Quaid-i-Azam had envisioned this country to be and where we actually stand today as a people and as a state. The Quaid gave us a clear vision of a democratic and progressive state which was to be stable politically and strong economically, imbued with Islamic values. Woefully, we grew up without witnessing either of these as the in our national characteristics. We have gone through a series of crises and traumatic experiences which have left us politically unstable, economically weak, socially fragmented and physically disintegrated. We may have survived these crises and challenges but at what cost? Addressing Pakistan's first Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947, the Quaid reminded the legislators of their "onerous responsibility" of framing the future Constitution of Pakistan and functioning, as a full and complete sovereign body, as the federal legislature of Pakistan. It took our politicians nine years and several governments to frame our first Constitution in 1956 which was abrogated in less than three years. Since then, we have had two Constitutions; one promulgated by a field marshal in 1962 and then abrogated altogether by the next chief martial law administrator in 1969, and the other adopted by an "elected" legislature of the truncated Pakistan in 1973, which has since been amended 17 times leaving very little of the original text in its essence. It is a different Constitution altogether. Meanwhile, our parliaments including the present one have never been able to function as "fully sovereign" law-making bodies as envisioned by the Quaid. Mostly, we have had "dud" and "trivialized" assemblies playing no role whatsoever in country's legislative agenda or national policy formulation. The elected members of these assemblies are no more than wooden marionettes always at the mercy their master or money. This brings us to the second event this year that went unnoticed altogether among the people of Pakistan. The first anniversary in office of our "elected" government which came to power after ten years of dictatorship and unconstitutional rule inspired no one to celebrate or rejoice about. The people have noticed no difference from the preceding Musharraf era in terms of governance and democratic distortions. In fact, they are publicly complaining of greater hardship in their daily lives in terms of aggravated food and energy shortages and worsening law and order situation. What grieves them most is that Musharraf's worn out shoes in the form of Seventeenth Amendment are still in use by our elected President. The present elected government and the parliament both stand totally marginalized in the presence of a President who contrary to democratic norms continues to hold the office of Co-Chair of his party. This systemic aberration has no parallel in political philosophy or contemporary history. Thanks to the lawyers' community, political forces, media and civil society, the judges have finally been restored. But problems of equal if not greater magnitude still remain unaddressed. The credibility of the government and the President is the foremost issue, not only at home but also with the rest of the world. Nobody believes us. The present government's trust deficit and credibility gap is too real. No one has faith in its policies or promises. The world has seen a tradition of broken oaths, dishonored commitments and breached pledges. As if the crises ranging form militancy and terrorism to food and power shortages were not enough, we have now also landed ourselves in perilous economic straits. Our country stands shaken at its roots by a fiscal crisis of an unprecedented magnitude. Pakistan was at the verge of an economic breakdown until the world came to our rescue. No one is ready to give us funds without an oversight mechanism and rigorous control. This makes IMF not only relevant to our current crisis but also indispensable for the revival of our credit rating and investor's confidence. This government is erratic in its economic policies and we have learnt no lessons from the past. In today's world, there are no friends. States are guided by their national interests alone. The so-called Friends of Pakistan, in particular are wary of our words. President Zardari's friend, Richard Boucher has said there will be no cash on the table. Let us be realistic. China, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are perhaps the only reliable friends that we can rely upon. Others will only be paying lip service unless we present to them viable project portfolios. But instead of looking for outside help, our top most priority must be to concentrate on helping ourselves through homegrown solutions to our economic problems. It is time we had professionally skilled task forces established to develop viable plans and strategies for enhancing our agricultural production, reviving our moribund industries and grappling with the energy crisis. The writer is a former foreign secretary