May I take this opportunity to inform all concerned that election is not a ticket, or a blank cheque, to do whatever suits the fancy of elected representatives, embark on vainglorious ego trips, flout all rules and seek to further their private business interests at the expense of taxpayer. The onus is on elected representatives to serve the people, failing which they can actually lose confidence of the electorate even before expiry of their term of office. If that happens, a democratic change becomes inevitable. Democracy today faces a threat from incompetence, and corruption, prevailing within high echelons of the elected. Those who inhabit these at present have, unfortunately, chosen to abuse the trust reposed in them through massive, unrestrained abuse of power. Democracy is a system of governance whereby people choose their representatives to form a government that serves them. Its primary strength lies in being the government of the people, for the people, by the people. The system derives legitimacy through transparency and a general faith that it works in accordance with the rules, within corridors of confinement defined in the constitution. Its top most priority is, always, welfare of the people. When an elected government resorts to violation of law, promotes creation of cartels, protects those who indulge in forgery, mafia-making, hoarding, money-laundering etc, it loses its moral authority and trust of the people. That has happened now to the limit of its definition. Prices of sugar, for instance, have risen up because of deliberate shortages and malafide awarding of contracts to cronies for importing sugar, which never materialized, creating an opportunity for bonanza of profits for sugar manufacturers. Provision of a safe reliable public transport system is an obligatory function of a government yet one is witnessing train operations by the count of several being ceased these days. The Railways suffers today not for the lack of revenues but because of widespread pilferages and abuses of procurement which were prevalent in Musharraf government and are even more so in the present elected one. Very highly-valued urban land of Railways has been doled out to individual cronies at throwaway prices, instead of being disposed in open market through transparent public auctions to raise the much-needed funds for rehabilitation of the stricken railroad utility. Look at the terrifying state of law and order in the country. Politically motivated target killings in Karachi have risen to an unprecedented level while the law-enforcement agencies and the Interior Ministry of Sindh is forced to look the other way because of political compulsions. This elected government justifies its wrongs often with the argument that these are about the same as in the Musharraf era. What the politicians forget is that unlike military regimes, the democratic governments survive only if they serve the people. If a government fails to serve the people, it loses the right to stay in power and a democratic change becomes inevitable. -M. TARIQ ALI, Lahore, July 26