INSIGHT AND FORESIGHT

January 28, 2015

CORRUPTION & OIL POLITICS IN PAKISTAN

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 6:54 am

Apart from terrorism and military security, oil politics is super vulnerability that can bleed Pakistan blue at short notice. Pakistan’s economic performance is hostage to Oil. This is a researched opinion on oil politics linking international interests, international oil politics, home grown corruption and dictates of manipulating Pakistan’s economy through hit men.

At a time when international oil prices are at record low, Pakistan’s federal government showed how it was capable of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Logically, this sudden relief should have become a boon to kick start a sick and ailing energy sector and growth. My oft slur of calling Pakistan’s rulers Rip Van Winkles (sleeping leaders) was vindicated. These self-centred rulers ensure that Pakistan remains an energy starved and dependent country.

In 2004, Pakistan’s biggest Economic Hitman came of age. Government’s decision to reform oil companies into Pakistan State Oil (PSO) had malafide intentions. It created a boon for cartels and a bane for the country. By then, Independent Power Producers (IPPs), the biggest consumers of furnace oil had eclipsed the country’s hydro power potential, earned back their investments, were remitting profits and making illegal windfalls.

As per original IPP projections, the prices of electricity rather than reduce, were deliberately supercharged by unprecedented devaluation of rupee. (http://nation.com.pk/columns/29-Jun-2013/my-eye-your-eye) Financial relief was not passed to consumers. In 2006, Chairman NAB notified the government of an embezzlement worth over Rs. 84 billion in PSO. Under pressure, Lt General Shahid Aziz resigned. The issue of circular debt and other cartels in sync caused the collapse in 2007-8 that persists today.

Overseeing this vicious circle of corruption were the Ministry of Finance, Petroleum and Water & Power. In addition oversight regulatory authorities were placed to ensure transparency and good practices. These were OGRA, NEPRA, SECP, CCP, NAB and SBP. The fact thes failed to detect and remove irregularities that caused the 2007 and 20014-15 crises indicate that either they were accomplice, incompetent or prevented from performing their functions. When Admiral Fasih Bokhari chairman NAB dared to point out irregularities in PSO and affiliated cartels, he was maligned by a particular media house, pressurised by the Supreme Court and forced to resign. Chairman SECP and Governor State Bank also followed suite (http://nation.com.pk/columns/01-Feb-2014/corruption-the-sinkhole).

If the methodology of how the two tiers of this system work is understood, it is easy to point how the petrol crises took place. It also leads to the conclusion that rather than governments, non-state actors in form of monopolies and cartels with multiple controls run Pakistan.

PSO operates in two circles. The first deals with the supply of furnace oil to IPPS and has nothing to do with the petrol crises. OGRA ensures supply and regularisation of tariffs to gas fired IPPS. This tariff is opaque. NEPRA through a manipulative formula sets rates of electricity that are ultimately passed to consumers through PDCs. WAPDA collects the tariffs and pays IPPS under vigilance of Ministry of Finance. How the IPP defaults led to petrol shortages indicates intertwined crises within PSO, distribution companies and IPPS dwindling margins of profit on deferred payments and default.  This excludes shippers, importers like Bakri and adulteration mafia. Bakri once blacklisted became the premier importer on intervention of Shaukat Aziz in 2004. Hidden windfall follows the backdoor.

PSO regulates the internal production of fuel and lubricants and also imports fuel to make up the shortfall. It directly or through dealers imports supposedly international standard oil products. These are mixed with substandard products of domestic producers and suppliers who are paid the same price as import. In the distribution networks, the prices of carriage are standardised irrespective of the distances. This causes a huge loss to the state in cost plus carriage. Hidden windfall follows the backdoor to offshore entities.

When speculating a rise in oil prices, PSO has a common practice to supply products to IPPS and distribution companies on deferred payments for 5-7 days. The companies sell these at a higher price making exorbitant profits. As a case study, between march-April 2012 (23 Days), PSO supplied 72912 Kilo Litres of Diesel and 44760 Kilo Litres of Petroleum products with a cost lag of Rs. 4.70 and 8.02 respectively causing a loss/ profit to PSO/Distributors of Rs. 701.661 Million through 21 distribution points. This is just a tip of the iceberg. The loss through IPPS is even higher. Officials in PSO (who prefer not being named) point that since 2004 this loss amounts to more than Rs. 32 Trillion; a figure I repeatedly cited in my articles to apprise the nation about this daylight robbery (http://nation.com.pk/columns/09-Feb-2013/pakistan-s-stinking-black-hole). In 2014, as international prices began to decrease, the malpractice caused huge losses; an explanation why PSO defaulted 26 times since October 2014. It was the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance and Petroleum to be cognisant of the falling levels of stocks in being and transit. The Finance Minister is the Chairman of the Economic Coordination Committee and all concerned are part of it. It is mysterious that these crises should have gone unnoticed though predicted in these columns (http://nation.com.pk/columns/04-Jan-2014/truth-and-remorse).

This means that the ECC was hardly convening or paying attention to stock depletions accentuated by the abrupt decision to close CNG stations in December-January. Even if ECC looked the other way, ministry of petroleum should have raised alarms. At the same time the pricing and fraud mechanism with IPPS increased the default burden of PSO. It also appears that OGRA failed in its function to regulate the fluctuating pricing mechanism and awoke only due to the pressure of PTI. NEPRA too failed at monitoring the power tariffs. The government’s decision to preferentially and directly release overs 500 Billion to IPPS outside AGPR and pay over Rs 200 Billion to PSO are shady transactions.

The same mafia has also stalled Pakistan’s indigenous efforts at self-reliance. The commissioning of Geo Thermal Projects, Thar Coal, Kohlu and Tall Blocks promise to make Pakistan an energy giant of the world in a few years. Hence the same international pressure as exerted on the Iranian and Central Asian gas pipelines comes to fore. Linking all these with instability in Balochistan suddenly start making sense. International oil politics and agenda dictate that Pakistan remains backward. Pakistan has aplenty to compromise the future of the country.

With the crises wide open it is time the records of PSO, distribution companies and IPPs are put to multiple audits. Through a unanimous parliamentary resolution, it makes a fit case of criminal investigation and trial by a military tribunal. But there is a BUT.

If the government shows the guts to probe and punish these cartels, it will have to face the combined wrath of IPPs and the World Bank (http://nation.com.pk/columns/15-Jun-2013/portals-in-budget-2013-14). In all probability, the government and opposition being sides of the same coin will acquiesce.

The cancer has spread to sinews of all political parties.  Pathetic but true.

Brigadier (Retired) Samson Simon Sharaf is a political economist and a television anchorperson. Email: samson.sharaf@gmail.com

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January 19, 2015

The Real story of Petrol Crises in Pakistan

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 4:55 pm
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Pakistan has over 3.4 million vehicles running on CNG. With CNG stations closed for over a month these users mostly commercial shifted to petrol. Even if each user used 10 Liters of petrol per day, the extra demand rose to at least 34 million liters a day. With PARCO closed for 4-5 days for maintenance, local refineries could not make up the increased demand. Even now these refineries are full blast.

Oil distribution companies and PSO were reluctant to import petrol because with the expected cut in rices, they were reluctant to forego a part of their exorbitant profit. So they decided to wait out the crises. But unlike past years, the CNG stations were completely closed and the crises will persist.

PSO and distribution companies make huge profits whenever the oil prices increase and there is no accountability. Within their pricing and distribution mechanisms, there are profits and kickbacks that go unchecked. It is Pakistan’s biggest mega corruption cartel/cabal.

Pakistan State Oil is Pakistan’s largest energy company currently engaged in the import, marketing and distribution of products including fuels, petrochemicals and lubricants. It controls 78.2 % of the entire Pakistani black oil market and 54.3% share in the white oil market. Hence when PSO moves, the entire country shudders. 

PSO has grown since 1974 through merger of Pakistan National Oil, Dawood Petroleum Limited and Premiere Oil Company to its present shape in 2004. As a government controlled autonomous organization, its role and efficiency is crucial to Pakistan’s energy sector eclipsing the two arms of the Sui Gas companies and Pakistan Petroleum Limited. Being the sole importer of petro chemicals, fuel and byproducts, its ability to negotiate pricing mechanisms at source and dissipate the same to its clients and consumers is therefore worth a scrutiny. Corruption can only work in concert with local refineries, petro chemical producers and OGRA. It is clear as daylight that the Ex Chairman NAB during his tenure had dared to look into these affairs to which Shaukat Aziz was very sensitive.

There are many mechanisms from imports to distribution including local products that can be brought into question regarding PSO. The entire cabal of cartels will need to be investigated. Outside experts and sources inside NAB believe that a complete investigation into this holiest of holy cow could result in misappropriations and recovery of over 30 Trillion Rupees. It is only then that an approximate slippage of Rs. 3,000 billion as opined by Chairman NAB begins to make sense. Hence the logic of multi dimensional pressures generated against Chairman NAB through diverse sources.

No government and NAB dare touch them.

Depleting strategic stocks is treason.
Hope this is loud and clear.

Pakistan’s WOT: READING THE BATTLE

war-on-terror

There are many dotted lines I have connected between 9/11 and today. It will be difficult to assimilate in one reading. Once re read, a Pandora’s Box will begin to open. The essay is based on facts, cause, effects and first hand knowledge.

“An archer letting off an arrow may or may not kill a single man,

but a wise man using his intellect can kill even reaching unto the very womb”.       

                                                                              Chankya Vishnugupta Kautilya

The All Parties conference in Islamabad finally declared that terrorism is Pakistan’s war; a declaration yet to manifest its credibility in intention and robustness. With each day the hollowness stands exposed. The twenty counter terrorism points compiled in brainstorming session lack coherence, priorities and ends-means relationship. At best, these can be termed as guidelines for a policy paper or a directive. There is no visible effort to shape a cohesive broad spectrum policy.

For rightist and centrist the consensus was made in duress imposed by presence of General Rahil Sharif. The consensus evaporated and fissures resurfaced when the 21st amendment to the constitution was tabled. Religious parties stayed away while PTI abstained from entering the parliament for want of a promised Judicial Commission. Outside, Asif Ali Zardari made heavy weather and a PPP senator wept in grief rather than resign in moral courage. Religious parties led by JUI (F) and JI have inserted enough ifs and buts to wriggle out of the ownership. Interestingly JI is the party whose members gave refuge to most terrorists arrested from the cities. Armed groups of political parties will not fall in military purview. How it will be possible to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds is ‘wait and see’.

If one gets the drift or makes sense of the counter terrorism intentions of the civilian establishment, military courts and tribunals appear as miracle panacea for conflict resolution. Moratorium on death penalties was swiftly removed and Pakistan’s War on Terror officially began ‘bottoms up’. This debate has stolen the limelight and no one cares to discuss ‘hands on’ methodologies on how this war has to be fought on multiple fronts. The civilian establishment forced by the military made a timid declaration short of war without reading the battle. After a long denial, PTI adjusted its template. A lot will depend how political parties will read this battle. In all probability, it will be coloured by perceptions of each to extract a pound of flesh for an exit strategy. In all probability, military knee deep in sludge will be abandoned midway. The only exception is the civil society that over a year ago stood in beelines to affect a change and now detest political parties. Even their vigour will be adulterated by vested groups.  This multi-dimensional conflict sounds ominous but how does it interplay with Pakistan’s political economy?

Way back in 2007, I wrote in a daily, “The war has already begun. The question is. When did it begin?” The statement resulted in heated discussions but then the Rip Van Winkles of Pakistan and the general adept in model room strategies dosed off. I qualified my question with an explanation that read, “India with its new found allies has decided to maintain a constant vigil and coercion of Pakistan over a prolonged period of time but well below a Fire Break Point. The obvious targets in tandem with its allies will be addressed through diverse instruments like control of rivers, economics, diplomacy, international pressure, internal law and order, military intimidation and even insurgency”. Seven years down the line all this has come to pass and our establishment refuses to read the battle. USA and UK insist that India will lead a policy in the region. Both even ignore international resolutions on Kashmir to give India the edge. The war actually began with 9/11, but all tiers of the state remained in denial. Elusive narratives created perceptions that cannot be undone. The military has understood the script but others could not care less.

Two successive democratic governments never grasped the urgency of a multi-dimensional threat, rather helped the inevitable to take the predicted course. Pakistan’s bubble economy began to sink in 2007. Law and order worsened. A franchised movement in the name of justice began. In 2008, the entire higher judiciary was subverted. Accountability and transparency came to an end. India exercised initiatives in Kashmir and control of rivers. Militancy with external controls proliferated. In an environment where it was difficult for the army to even maintain a status quo, a research organisation was funded to initiate a fruitless and vociferous debate on civil-military relations. Finally, controversial elections continue to destabilise Pakistan. Parties that attempted to break the shackles were handled by raw force, violence and deceit. National consensus was used to diffuse street protests. All this leaves one to question whose side the political dispensation actually was; Pakistan or tentacles of the invisible enemy? Even now, the government fails to read the battle else Pakistan would have had full time foreign and defence ministers. Callousness pronounced! A country, creeping on war footings suddenly run out of fuels.

Despite a cosmetic consensus in APC, most parties remain in denial. The only person who has read it correctly is General Raheel Sharif who pursues a decisive mission before his tenure ends. Scattered segment of civil society brave it out despite threats. Politics Pakistani style being more self-centred and cantankerous can afford to wait and see off two years. Their support will always be subjective with hands to pull the rug when deemed. The PUN in two years tenure of military led tribunals assumes significance. Unprecedented bloodshed for over a decade is no priority.

With shrinking space on a strategic canvas, General Raheel Sharif is running from pillar to post to salvage Pakistan’s position and defeat all forces of terrorism. His urge to craft a military victory is not matched by political vigour to make Pakistan less dependent. Unfortunately he represents a country holding a begging bowl and is constrained by state actors who feed it. Secretary of State John Kerry did not budge from the stated US position. Pakistan through counter terrorism must create more enemies and ultimately start a large scale civil war. Short of that, the mantra of do more will not end.

General Raheel Sharif’s extended visit to USA and now to United Kingdom is not without reason. The objectives are not merely post withdrawal Afghanistan, or a role Pakistan will play in AFPAK or a domestic victory over terrorism. It is diplomacy for safeguarding Pakistan’s core interests through self-reliance. Notwithstanding international dynamics, the biggest challenge remains national reconciliation. Those who wish to keep it on a ventilator will not let it happen; nor did politicians who lack urgency read the battle. Otherwise there is no reason why Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif travelled to a diagrammatically opposite direction to please his King.

The journey from a vassal to a self-reliant state is indeed arduous. All Pakistanis must walk the talk.

Brigadier (Retired) Samson Simon Sharaf is a political economist and a television anchorperson. Email and twitter: samson.sharaf@gmail.com

January 11, 2015

NOUS SOMME L’HUMANITÉ

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 1:57 pm
Tags: , , ,

I intentionally changed the caption from Je suis Charlie to this one.

The issue brought to fore by this heinous crime is a global one.

France the cradle of modern democracy must lead the way for the safety of non Muslims in the Muslim world. 

france

The assault on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris has caused shock waves in Europe. But the ripples have also reached Christian minorities in Asia. In fear of a backlash, they are bracing for the worse. Little does the West realise that a religiously contemptuous teaser in Oslo or Paris could be a death knell for the hapless far away. It is time Europe realizes it has a collective international responsibility to safeguard lives and properties in distant lands.

The act of violence though long expected is condemnable. Hebdo for far too long had been taking on Islam and Christianity in its satirical and often obscene pun lines. Bill Donohue, President of the US Catholic League issued a statement, “Muslims are right to be angry.” Donohue criticized the publication’s history of offending the world’s religiously devout, including non-Muslims. “The murdered editor didn’t understand the role he played in his [own] tragic death”.

Individuals cannot take law into their own hands but then we must also condemn insensitivity that provokes a violent reaction. We must also blame international diplomacy in failing to resolve disputes arising out of cultural and religious fault lines. The Islamic world, Christian church and Hinduism have tolerated satire and provocations on their core beliefs for far too long. They have failed to act in unison against this ultra-leftist pluralism. It is time some limitations are imposed on liberalism.

Shrinking of the world on information highway, trans-national migrations and turmoil in the Muslim world necessitated a paradigm shift by the West that never came. The western church (Catholic and Anglican) is in recusal, while the dependent Muslim world ruled by non-representative regimes lacks the wherewithal to force its position. These compromises give rise to anti-western sentiments and radical organisations. Inasmuch, the West wishes to impose its values on the South and East, it also reflect their negligence at taking cognisance of the intertwined religious-cultural values, sensitivities and sensibilities of diversity. Unless the template is reset, Charlie Hebdos will continue to happen.

The French government has to accept part of the irresponsibility and guilt. In contrast to position taken by President Jacques Chirac in 2006 that, “overt provocations” which could inflame passions…anything that can hurt the convictions of someone else, in particular religious convictions, should be avoided”, President Nicolas Sarkozy and President François Hollande supported the French tradition of satire overturning the caution imposed in the past. To European secularism, satire of left leaning pluralism and abstainers is acceptable in the name of freedom of expression. They frequently quote Voltaire who said, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”, but ignore Zechariah Chafee who said, “Your right to swing your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins”. Freedom of expression particularly in Europe needs to be redefined for future. Europe needs to know where the other man’s nose begins and act accordingly. Funeral bells at Notre Dame Cathedral rather than a French national mourning are to be seen in the spirit of Christian forgiveness. “Oh God, forgive them for they do not know what they do”.

It is yet to be ascertained if these individuals acted at their own or were foot soldiers of a spreading transylvanian threat of radicalized jihadists. In any case this disclosure would be futile because insensitivity breeds precursors to set off individual reactions. If Europe wishes to improve its internal security, a good analysis of why provocations take place could provide the most economical solution. Scandinavia and France with liberal policies will have to act more than others to affect damage control.

Hebdo also reminds us that use of non-state actors to stir trouble in other countries is counterproductive. It is like fathering an untamed multi-headed serpent that will always devour its makers. The ilk of Arab Sidewinders can neither be controlled nor tamed. It is more important to deny them space for propagation. Lose cannons like Hebdo make them stronger and Europe weaker. Since 9/11 the entire international community apparently rallied against militant groups and non-state actors. Yet it exercised double standards and chose to patronize a few. Most countries of the West support insurgent and revolutionary groups for geostrategic objectives and regime change. Frequently, chickens have come home to roost. They hit twin towers, Europe and elsewhere. Pakistan has learned this lesson the hard way and others must make it a case study to refrain from according any kind of support to such groups.

Takfiris from the times of Hazrat Ali have been used selectively to create fault lines within the Muslim World. They hibernate in the desert sands and shoot to strike. In the latest surge, they grew out of the Soviet Afghan conflict and are now devouring across Middle East to redraw geographies in a juxtapose of conflicting interests. Warlords are not revolutionaries.  In Syria, they provide the rationale for this extremist surge making serpents more poisonous and dangerous.

These groups believe in an extreme ideology that physically beheads dissent. They provide no space for caution or neutrality. Religious minorities in the Muslim World become frequent victims of this backlash. Whether it is Terry Jones of USA, Jyllands-Posten of Denmark or Charlie Hebdo of France, the victims invariably are churches, innocent Christians and their dwellings. To hardliners, Christianity symbolizes western influence and must be attacked in quid pro quo.  European liberalism and secularism makes existence of Christians in conflict zones extremely dangerous.

In reaction to provocative satire, over two hundred Christians have died in Africa and Asia. Christians in Pakistan are at the receiving end for a long time. Effigies of the Pope are usually burned. Churches and Holy Crosses are desecrated. Rarely does the west realise that its secular and liberal sanction of satire make life of fringe groups in the Muslim world miserable. One person’s ideology cannot be another’s guillotine.

In the societal dimension, globalisation and interdependence has brought cultures and religions to close proximity. If developed countries wish to reap fruits through trade and technology, they also have to take the responsibility to create mutual spaces where instrumentalism fuses diversity. They cannot raise stakes of their political economy, if they fail to sensitise themselves to the realities of differing perspectives. In the debate of a new Europe shedding off a part of old notions is a necessity.

As a Christian who lives in the Muslim World it is “NOUS SOMME L’HUMANITÉ” and not “JE SUIS CHARLIE” that matters.

Brigadier (Retired) Samson Simon Sharaf is a political economist and a television anchorperson. Email and twitter: samson.sharaf@gmail.com

January 5, 2015

DIVIDED AND DISCONNECTED My Opinion in Nation

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 4:15 pm

Terrorism

There is a Chinese saying by Sun Tzu, “If you know yourself and your enemy, you need not dread the result of thousand battles”. But what would one say about a political culture that neither knows itself nor its enemy? Does it merit the credentials to govern a country whose pressing problems evade it, where escapism is a political stratagem, where megalomaniacs with soft ears bask in the aura of courtiers while nincompoops spin yarns with splendid abandon? This is a political culture unwilling to learn, research or debate. The long list of wants reminds me of a childhood poem:

For want of a nail the shoe was lost,
for want of a shoe the horse was lost,
for want of a horse the knight was lost,
for want of a knight the battle was lost,
for want of a battle the kingdom was lost.

Pakistan is imploding and rulers do not seem to care. Juxtaposed in conflicting narratives, Jinnah’s vision is eclipsed. Ever since the dawn of ‘democracy as best revenge’, federal and provincial plans, akin to the nail, lack vision, depth and detail.  The brass-tacks of good governance and national priorities resemble a jumbled meccano set that can be shaped for the worst. To be incompetent is pardonable; to be callous is criminal tantamount to complicity. The czars just do not have the mettle, urge or time to know or learn. Each is a victim of one’s own subjective experiences. Fallacies of generalisations insulate them from reason and logic. Critical thinking is non-existent. Flattery is music, dissent unpardonable.

The dons who grace the constitutional avenue and assembly chambers have unlearned the habit of even reading tabloids, not to mention serious books. After all, journals and policy papers are too dry to digest for those who have more appetite for raw power and aggrandisement. The complete surrender to internal egos created by a deficit called vulnerability propels them to a psyche of self-preservation followed by a self-belief that they are invulnerable and indispensable. News strips, odd tweets, smart phones and gossip are their best source of information. Administrative and intelligence paraphernalia remain preoccupied keeping tags on rivals and potential stragglers. Incriminating information is handy for blackmailing. These desi Al Capones have an insatiable appetite to blackmail or bump off dissent.

Introspection and self-correction is conspicuously absent. Why do it when the entire consequence of faulty decision making can be masked by rhetoric, conspiracy theories and political justifications. Two wrongs always make a right. For them, it is prudent to substitute the solitary moments of yore with political concubines who amplify the illusions and provide the pompous and megalomaniac aura that makes the toughest succumb to innate instincts. Democracy a la revenge runs on whims and not well thought policies. As the country gets weaker, the leaders of political parties armed with the lethal eighteenth amendment wield a whip against any dissent. A train of opportunists, beneficiaries and fly by night reformers followed by most obedient servants buzz around the whip master with a constant flow of melodious chatter. Inside the termite hill, workers of various descriptions bloat the invincible queen incapable to ventures for a ground check. As the plot deepens, the spirals in sinkhole get fiercer and deeper. Democracy of mutual back scratching makes it incumbent to stamp the mouse even if there is a tiger at the door.  After all, stamping means more activity and noise.

How could one define the incompetence, callousness and apathy of Pakistan’s politicians in the aftermath of a new found National Action Plan in post Peshawar tragedy? Despite repeated declarations of a counter terrorism policy forged through copy paste of Protection of Pakistan Ordinance and Anti-Terrorism Act, it transpired that the government was never serious in implementing it. There never existed a working or viable plan to complement military’s isolated campaign against terrorism. Two weeks have been wasted by political parties on military courts while the onerous task of perceiving threat levels, typologies and objectives have yet to be understood. The perceptions being created pre suppose that military courts will become the death knell for terrorism. As a result the entire debate on counter terrorism is obscured either willingly or by default. The braying from Larkana suggests, it is deliberated by all beneficiaries of NRO and Charter of Democracy. The crocodile tears for the children of Thar, Sargodha and Peshawar reflect innate animal instincts.

The government is avoiding taking the bull by the horns. The entire process of successive all parties’ conferences are to create delays and complications in the execution of counter terrorism plans. Else the government should have shown immediate urgency and resolve in setting up the legislative, executive and judicial oversight mechanisms to complement counter terrorism operations. The fact that the government circumvents the issue means that either it is incompetent to take on the onerous challenge or wants to delay it.  The country is indeed at war but the rulers do not wish to fight it. Some take solace in the statement that it was the army that created these monsters and therefore must eliminate them. The dirty laundry belongs and belongs to the army.

This absence of political will and credibility in backdrop of political rhetoric reminds me of another nursery rhyme:

A man of words and not of deeds
Is like a garden full of weeds
And when the weeds begin to grow
It’s like a garden full of snow
And when the snow begins to fall
It’s like a bird upon the wall
And when the bird away does fly
It’s like an eagle in the sky
And when the sky begins to roar
It’s like a lion at the door
And when the door begins to crack
It’s like a stick across your back
And when your back begins to smart
It’s like a penknife in your heart
And when your heart begins to bleed
You’re dead, and dead, and dead indeed

It is incumbent on the bleeding, mourning and bruised nation to rebuild a temperate willpower and national consciousness to back patriotic forces against the Merchants of Venice seeking pounds of flesh. Like the nursery rhymes, it is time for basics.

Brigadier (Retired) Samson Simon Sharaf is a political economist and a television anchorperson. Email: samson.sharaf@gmail.com

http://nation.com.pk/columns/03-Jan-2015/divided-and-disconnected

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