Round And Round The Very Ssame Bush

Never before has the election of a new prime minister been greeted with so much skepticism and, in a country where often only humour keeps people sane, so many derisive jokes.
They began to float in over phones and through emails even before Raja Pervaiz Ashraf had formally won the vote in the National Assembly, and then made a speech which said nothing at all.
The former minister for water and power has already been dubbed Raja Rental and his mere presence in the top office has acted to remind people of just how acute the power crisis is. The heat in many homes and hearts has grown, with Ashraf’s promises in 2008 and 2009 that the energy crisis would soon be over, simply adding to the sense of anger.
He has not explained yet why he lied when he made these promises. Things are certainly no better at all; indeed they are much worse, with cuts lasting up to 20 hours even in the major cities of Punjab. There are other factors about Ashraf which make people already begin to miss the much-maligned Gilani.
The reputation of the new prime minister for honesty is not great and he is caught right in the middle of the Rental Power Projects scam which continues to be investigated by the Supreme Court in which we hear the US may now also be taking an interest with two dubious power companies registered in that country.
So, will we have a situation where a new scandal quickly entraps the latest prime minister setting off a scenario we have seen before once again?There are other questions that are even more important. What indication do we have that Ashraf will be able to manage the multiple crises we face at present?
He was after all not able to look after a single ministry and has done nothing at all to indicate what his policies will be or how he plans to solve the tall stacks of problems that stand before him.
Many doubt his ability to even begin sorting through the stacks in order to put the house in order. The new prime minister, it must be said, is not a man known for his intellect.We also know why he was selected. The PPP, after all, has more able candidates within its ranks.
Some have been sidelined, some serve at various posts. But obviously complete obedience was picked as the primary requirement, given that the NRO case stares Ashraf in the face even as he shifts into office.
Quite clearly, the president was simply not prepared to risk a prime minister who may actually abide by the Supreme Court decision and write that letter to the authorities in Geneva. This crippling factor means the choice of those able, in the eyes of the party leadership, to assume the top post is severely limited.
What we will then see is the beginning of yet another cycle, yet another turn from the merry-go-round very similar to what we had before. The question for us is how to jump off this merry-go-round.
It is certainly worth considering ways to do so, and escape the situation we have become caught up in. Yet, desperate as we are, we must be careful not to violate democratic principles and call once more for any kind of unelected setup. These calls were heard, emanating loud and clear from various quarters immediately after the Supreme Court, for the first time in the country’s history, effectively dismissed a government.
The reminders that this could happen once again, with the NRO case due to resume, have already begun to come in.The onus for what has already happened and what is to happen next lies chiefly with the ruling party. A better choice of candidate would have been wise, perhaps one from a coalition partner, or from a minority province.
At this particular moment a chief executive from conflict-torn Balochistan may have been a good choice, and also demonstrated a genuine desire to address the overwhelming problems of that province.
But it appears different priorities exist for leaders; saving the country and preventing the mayhem we now see on the streets is not among them.We wonder what the PPP leadership has in mind as the next elections approach. They are now only months away, with many expecting they may even be called by the end of the year.
Clever manoeuvring and coalition forming across ideological boundaries may not be the best way to win them. We must accept the PPP has faced its problems – as always regarded as a stepchild by the Establishment and lacking control over too many crucial areas where civilian rulers have never been allowed to tread.
It has also run foul of an aggressive apex court, with the acrimony between institutions putting new demands on legal experts to interpret the Constitution and find new definitions for passages written out within it.But at the same time the government has also created traps for itself. It is clear that it is regarded as malfunctional and dishonest by many citizens.
Yes, the media has played its part in this – but a role has also been played by the ruler themselves, with their consistent failures to address the needs of people and enforce policies which can help meet these needs.
What we ask now is what will happen next. Where will the game we are seeing stop; who will be the winner, where will the arrow on the wheel of fortune point when everything is over. It is difficult to say for now. But it is not hard to see that things are likely to continue much as they have been proceeding for the last few years, with the new prime minister hardly expected to make any difference at all.
In fact, things could become even more awkward as the court moves ahead with its proceedings and other problems remains unsolved. There is as yet no indication that they will be resolved; all we can expect is more rhetoric and this is not something we have room for right now.