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January 18, 2015

How long can this state of turmoil be prolonged?


January 18, 2015

DUBAI: The missing petrol explosion leading to the sacking of four top executives by the PM has seriously dented the myth that the Nawaz Sharif government was good at managing the economy, controlling the huge energy shortages or moving the development process forward.
While politicians, the sit-ins and the opposition may not have succeeded in shaking the confidence of the Raiwind family, these governance failures have made it look like a house in disarray.
For instance Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan came out to bash his own government saying he was ashamed of watching the oil chaos on the streets. Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had lame excuses to offer, Finance Secretary Waqar Hasan admitted that the crisis may take up to 45 days to be over, Finance Minister Dar had no explanation for the delayed action he took to provide funds to the PSO. The list of failures is long and no one seems responsible or capable of handling the matter.
But while this sudden eruption is so disturbing and visible, there are many other failures that have gone unnoticed.
There are reports that the 6600MW $12 billion Gadani coal power projects have been shelved, the Neelum Jhelum power has been delayed for more than a year, China has threatened to pull out of another major project, Chinese investment in a private bank has been badly hit, after petroleum shortages furnace oil is also facing the squeeze and that may hit electricity production.
All these, and many more failures, on the economic and development side, which was considered the stronghold of Nawaz administration, have created the deep impression that this government is not competent to handle what are now giant dinosaur size issues.
Already other national security and strategic matters have already been pushed out of the domain of the political leadership. What has happened can be summarized as:
— War on terror is now being fought by the army and politicians have moved out of the way, admitting their

own failure and blaming the judiciary in the process.
— All major capitals, Washington, London, Kabul and other key countries are talking directly to the Army Chief as if the political government either does not exist or matters little.
— The judiciary has been blamed and cornered and a clash is brewing on the issue of military courts. The judges say there is no need for such courts and the army says the issue has been constitutionally settled and there is no need for a debate, the country must move on.
— No one is yet prepared to touch the sleeping giant, i.e. dozens of banned militant, religious outfits that have hitherto been allowed to exist but lie low and maintain their arsenals, fighters and funds. If these have to be neutralized, then all politicians will have to take a long leave and everyone will have to join to hit them and be ready for the blowback.
— The national political leadership is all but toothless, clueless and fighting small turf battles, arguing on issues that could be decided in days if there is a will. It is not there.
— The only enthusiasm seen in political leaders is to focus on projects and decisions where they can make some side money. The list of such big and small projects will fill pages.
In such a scenario how would the government regain its confidence and how will the politicians prove they can deliver on gigantic issues, when they cannot even handle day to day matters like keeping oil supplies flowing?
The army, it must be said, is stuck in a war against thousands of misguided terrorists and cannot afford such inefficiencies and mis-governance by the political governments. It cannot pull out of the war because that would be surrender.
That cannot be imagined at any cost. So the only option it has is to keep fighting, seek support of all and if there are blockades or bumps, remove them.
These bumps could be created by politicians or judges or corrupt mafias or banned sleeping armies of jihadi outfits. The parliamentary roadblocks have already been removed.
Mafias need to be controlled with the help of sponsors who are known and identified.
Jehadi outfits will be a problem but have to be tackled with care as they can wreak havoc if all of them turn on the state in such a volatile situation. So in this state of massive challenges, a feeble, politically challenged and administratively incompetent government may not be the answer and may not survive.
National leaders will have to think out of the box and find a solution, inclusive of all the players. Otherwise the blockades in the way of the army will have to be removed, whatever that may mean or require.
This state of disarray and turmoil cannot prolong.

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