March Issue 2008

By | Editorial | Opinion | Published 16 years ago

The King’s party is still finding it extremely difficult to come to terms with its poor showing in the February 18 elections.

On the one hand, it is proclaiming that it will play the role of a healthy opposition; on the other, it is desperately attempting to drive a wedge between the PPP and the PML-N so that it can hitch its wagon to Bhutto’s party. But as it sees its efforts coming to naught, some of its fallen idols are predicting the fall of the PPP-PML-N coalition. Why, the PML-Q chief whip is even threatening to announce the next election date within a couple of months.

The kind of pressures that are being brought to bear on the two leading parties is bewildering, to say the least. Even diplomats have jumped into the fray, throwing diplomacy to the winds. Various permutations and combinations are being worked out by vested interests.

What’s getting lost in this mad scramble for a berth in the next government is the plethora of problems looming large on the country’s horizon — electricity, gas, water and food shortages, price hikes and, above all, the war on terrorism. The suicide bombers are striking back with a vengeance — even peace jirgas are not being spared. And then there are the issues of General Musharraf’s role in the next dispensation and the restoration of the judges — all contentious problems that need to be resolved in a manner as to keep everyone on board. And, more importantly, to ensure that the new dispensation remains intact.

Incidentally, while the nation is obsessing about the fate of this beleaguered country, at least one individual is concerning himself only with his own and his family’s fate, post-retirement.

The caretaker prime minister Mr Mohammadmian Soomro gave the Senate Chairman, a position Mr Soomro holds concurrently, and his family, perks to die for. These include diplomatic passports, free domestic and foreign travel, free accommodation, free access to state and government guest houses, free medical facilities both locally and abroad, free private secretary, cook, driver and security guard, free telephone calls upto Rs.5000, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. These perks will extend to his family, even after his death.

Has the caretaker prime minister, who belongs to Pakistan’s rich land-owning class, counted the costs of his old age retirement package to his poor country that is teetering on the brink of an economic collapse?

Rehana Hakim is one of the core team of journalists that helped start Newsline. She has been the editor-in-chief since 1996.