Zardari successful but petroleum minister must go
True, the PPP regime, in power for four years, has except for few basic changes, given nothing to the people. Its claim of being a crusader for democracy, means nothing to a vast majority countrymen, least bothered about 18th amendments, income distribution among provinces etc. For them the price spiral, and the worsening gas and electric supply, has been a major cause of concern. The situation is as bad in the Punjab as in Balochistan. To make matters worse, the petroleum minister Dr Asim, issued a frightening statement of raising the petrol and diesel prices by Rs 5 and Rs 2. A statement like this, coming ahead of schedule, brought windfall profit or hoarders, the echo of which was heard in the Senate also. The petroleum minister, secretary to the petroleum ministry, and the OGRA chief need to be sacked forthwith. They have instead of bringing any relief to the people, have been acting purely as accountants, looking at the balance sheet, and inflicting further rise of prices of gas and electricity, which reflects poorly on the government.
The music of all this has to be faced by President Zardari, prime minister Gilani and the entire PPP leadership. The need of the hour is to take a deep look into the problem, and offer satisfactory solutions to the people. Dr Asim may be the personal physician of the President, and his closest friend. But people’s needs has priority over everything else. In a year, where elections, seem a clear possibility, a political government, has to prepare itself for the coming test. The prime minister may say that economy is improving, but the latest State Bank report of January 28, says just the opposite. The premier boasted in the Davos city of Switzerland that inflation come down to single digit, and the central bank, monitoring economy figures closely, and analysis it scientifically, rebuts him in the face, by telling the people that the inflation rate is over 12 percent, and the GDP growth cannot be expected to be 4 percent. Pressure on private banks have multiplied manifold, which again is sufficient evidence that the government has misread the economic barometer, or is trying to present a distorted picture to the people. Likewise Hafeez Sheikh has been yet another major disappointment. He has just not been able to manage the financial policies of the government, and could not give it a proper direction. Shaukat Tareen preferred to resign from the finance ministry, and quit his senate seat, rather than submit to the whims of those above him. Both Dr Asim and Hafeez Sheikh have to go now, make room for qualified economists who could visualize the problems in advance, and have the ability to present their problems. Merely by passing on the buck to the poor people, moaning under mounting problems, and asking them to pay more, just does not suit the fundamental problems of economic management, and providing solutions in the context a political government has to look at things. The fundamental difference between a political government and one that is relying on bureaucracy, is far too glaring to be explained time and again. Politicians are made ministers to harness the bureaucracy, not rely on them to provide bureaucratic solutions which are never helpful to the poor and the ordinary. There is a vast difference between an autocratic or military government, and those headed by political parties, installed in power by the electorate’s will.
Zardari has done well to take charge to spear the electioneering campaign. He has already made a humble beginning by distributing Rs 3 lakh to poor the needy at a Bilawal House ceremony, attended by some 3000 invitees. But he has to come out and address the people. The PPP co-chairman has multiple problems to improve the economy, manage the administration, and at the same time push his party to deliver. His team of ministers have failed to deliver. Peoples miseries have mounted beyond description. Nature, perhaps has been keen kind to Zardari, and his party. The Prime Minister has been addressing the gatherings at various places, but not much could be attained from that. If the opposition has softened its attitude because of the problem to update the electoral rolls, it has been a golden opportunity to the PPP to derive home the advantage from slowing down of attacks from the opposition. But this is only lull in the storm and should be taken maximum benefit from it.
The PPP under no circumstances must relax. Its team of ministers have failed to deliver. The sole responsibility now rests on the shoulders of President Zardari himself. If he has proven his mettle by being in jail for almost 9 years, and not yielding to pressures, he has to show his mettle again.