In parliamentary democracies, a sitting government is supposed to set the day’s agenda for its legislative forums.
Our “Blessed republic” is however unique. Things appear different here. Probably, to show the same exceptionality, our National Assembly continued with yawn-inducing speeches on Friday. Mostly they sounded like pathetic wails over the issue of load-shedding. We suffered these speeches, despite the gleeful claims by Zardari-Gilani government that it finally has found the way to resolve this long lingering issue.
The prime minister was present in the house. His minister for water and power, Syed Naveed Qamar, also was glued to his seat throughout the sitting. As the break for Juma prayers was drawing close, Gilani stood up to speak and before doing so, ensured that mikes with logos of different official media were also neatly arranged on the podium in front of him.
Don’t blame me, if I naively imagined that he was taking the floor to share the Eureka type discovery that helped him in addressing the issue of load shedding, which eventually triggered ominous riots throughout Punjab this week. But to my utter surprise he instead announced that he had allocated funds for building of Lowari Tunnel to ensure all-weather connectivity with Chitral and that on Oct 18, he would inaugurate construction of the much-delayed Diamer-Bhasha Dam.
If I merely go by nonstop functioning of various electric gadgets at my home for the last 24 hours, the government does seem to have resolved the issue of load shedding. Yet the question remains: how did it do it? And in the absence of a convincing official explanation about how a massive power shortfall was reduced overnight to a manageable gap, people at large would continue to remain on the edge. Most would rather be tempted to trust accusations that the government had employed a few sleight of hand tricks to resolve the issue, temporarily, with the sole intent of defusing the street-agitation against load shedding that the PML-N was trying to exploit to serve its own political ends.
The absence of a convincing script regarding the said matter is helping the gossip vendors to plant stories that street rioting in Punjab over the issue of load shedding has finally convinced Asif Ali Zardari that his nominee to the Prime Minister’s Office “was incompetent to the core”. Presumably, Syed Naveed Qamar failed to deliver as the minister of water and power, but Gilani remained adamant to protect and not to punish him.
The alleged incompetence of Gilani-Qamar duo compelled Asif Ali Zardari to ask his trusted buddy, Dr Asim, to assume control and he seemingly delivered in the end. Serious attempts were now on to prop Asim as the ultimate energy czar of Pakistan and Naveed Qamar was reported not feeling too good about it.
The debating club of “our representatives” – the National Assembly does not discuss the real questions. Friday, it behaved frighteningly indifferent to the fact that all means of public transport were missing from the streets of Rawalpindi. People were forced to stay put at homes; because the zealot supporters of Mumtaz Qadri had called for protest rallies. They believed that Qadri, the self-confessed killer of a sitting Governor of Punjab was “sentenced to death to please the (godless) West.” While planning to stir agitation, they contemptuously disregarded the reality that he was sentenced by a duly established court and an appeal against it had already been filed before a competent high court.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2011.
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