It was during a reception that a gentleman walked up to the group of guests I was chatting with and joined the conversation, which had by now revolved to print media and column writers. Suddenly the man turned to me and said, “I read your column regularly, but I am upset at your negative criticism of the government”. My response was accompanied by a smile, “As long as the government continues to do wrong, they will be criticized. Let them do some good, so that I can reciprocate in similar spirit”. The gentleman looked at me, shook his head and detached himself from the group. Curiosity prompted me to ask one of my acquaintances as to the identity of my critical friend. “Oh, he is a senior bureaucrat”, came the reply. It is through this week’s piece that my ‘bureaucrat reader’s’ wish has finally come true, for the PML N Government has at long last done a few things that have raised them a few notches on my index.

First, it was the news that the Ruling Party had agreed to set up the Judicial Commission to probe into the 2013 General Elections and allegations by PTI (and other Opposition Parties) that the electoral exercise was riddled with malpractices and irregularities. Whether it was tenacious pressure from PTI or a demonstration of political sagacity by PML N, the decision was welcomed by all and sundry.

Then came our response to the Saudi request to commit Pakistani military assets in their war with Yemeni rebels (allegedly supported by Iran). It was conveyed to Saudi Arabia in no uncertain terms that we would not commit our military in this particular conflict. It was however added that there would be no hesitation on our part to come to the defense of the Holy Muslim sites in Saudi Arabia, if and when any threat developed in that direction. What lent strength to the sensible Government decision was a Parliamentary Resolution saying that Pakistan should stay militarily away from the conflict and instead, take up the role of an arbitrator to end the war.

Then came the best news of all in the shape of the Chinese President’s visit and signing of the trade corridor agreement that envisaged investing 46 billion US dollars’ in Pakistan. No matter what detractors and critics of this milestone development may say, there is no denying the fact that the credit of this accord goes to the Government in power. What remains to be seen is the manner in which this mega project and its multiple offshoots are implemented. Perhaps the redeeming factor would be that everything will be supervised and overseen by the Chinese. This would reduce, if not entirely eliminate chances for corruption. This would also be an opportunity for large scale employment of Pakistani workers, both skilled and unskilled.

We (including yours truly) made a huge hue and cry over the Metro Bus Project. We shouted ourselves hoarse saying that it was a waste of public money and that it had destroyed the beauty of Islamabad. While I still maintain that the funds allocated for the project could have been spent on improvement of healthcare and education, my environmental fears have been somewhat laid to rest, seeing that the flora on Jinnah Avenue was diligently preserved by the contractors.

A new concern has however raised its head at the sight of the glass covered stations, escalators and lifts. My concern is based on the historic lack of civic responsibility shown by our public – in joy and in anger. The escalators and lifts are likely to become joy rides for the Pakistani public, who will leave no stone unturned to see that they stop working. More seriously, has anyone given a thought as to what is likely to happen to the stations, as and when someone decides to organize a protest demonstration which turns ugly? I have no clue how it will be done, but I can only hope that the authorities have devised a plan to ruthlessly enforce the rules regarding damage, defacement of public property and littering of such utilities. In fact it is time that such a law be reviewed, made more deterrent and implemented ruthlessly throughout the country.