Finally, it seems that our Prime Minister has woken up to the parts of governance that affect the masses. Reducing the fuel prices is a step in the right direction and appreciated by the public at large.
My cousin Syeda Abida Hussain, a minister at that time, related an incident to me many years ago of how she was shopping for vegetables and when she inquired about the high price of potatoes on offer, the vegetable seller replied; “Madam, have you seen the price of petrol?” to which she replied; “What has the price of petrol got to do with the price of potatoes?” The reply in return was swift and cogent. “Madam, do you think the potatoes walked to the market?” This little exchange underscores the co-relation between commodity prices and fuel. It succinctly sums up the deep connection between the cost of moving products, to and from the markets that affects the public at large.
When the government increased the price of fuel three times in the last 12 months, we were horrified at the harsh conditions that these increases would add on to the prices of all commodities. And so it is a step in the right direction by the new economic financial adviser to the PM, Dr. Hafeez Shaikh. He is a refreshing new face and is the one bright spark that can light up an entire cabinet and this should be applauded and more such placements should be encouraged. The question arises, as to why objections were not raised by the members of the cabinet when these increases were applied three times in the year. Did they not realize the damage being done to the poor of Pakistan? The hue and cry was largely stifled not moving along the chain to the ears that matter and remain unheard. These increases affected every person in Pakistan, making life much more difficult. This was an obvious attempt to sabotage the smooth running of Imran Khan’s newly established government. Possibly, taking advantage by the enemy within. The saboteurs in the bureaucracy were determined to creating obstacles and denied the government of Imran Khan any success. He did not see hurdles being created deliberately to sabotage his government and its performance.
As the Prime Minister is the recipient of kudos and brickbats, being incharge of the government. However, the damage to the government with each increase was colossal and sent a message of sublime disdain for the people. This uncaring for the people was far from the truth, and did not show the deep concern that Imran Khan has felt for the plight of the people. It is not surprising that the sabotage was unnoticed by the cabinet members and none chose to highlight the dangerous sinister move, so deeply bruited by the anti-Imran forces in and around the cabinet. Imran must understand that backstabbing is the political norm everywhere and minefields are the rule and not an exception. He must learn to guard himself against saboteurs from within his government. The attacks from the PML-N and the PPP are to be expected. What is doubly dangerous are the attacks from his own party members.
Many Pakistanis believe that Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari deserve harsh punishments for their crimes. The anger expressed by people shows how widespread is the revulsion against the Sharifs for their behavior when in power. The Sharif and Zardari families should learn that breaking the laws comes at a very high and painful cost. The long cavalcades of limousine and bullet-proof vehicles, accompanying them, to and from courts and jails, should be removed, and these criminals should be forced to walk to, and from the jail, without any protection. If they are attacked and injured, so be it. Citizens should also be allowed to view these criminals in their prison cells. It is not understandable why the courts are taking so long to find the politicians guilty of their crimes. The huge amount discovered in their possession is proof enough. Why is the punishment taking so long?
The judges should also realize that the delay in passing sentence can be viewed as leniency towards the criminals, and maybe used against the judges themselves. Too many instances are surfacing about the blackmailing and pressures exerted on the judiciary by PML-N activists.
Interestingly enough, the judgments are sometime reversed in the favor of the Sharifs. No one has yet been convicted of blackmailing or threatening the judges. This imbalance should be corrected and judges like Justice Malik Abdul Qayyum who was filmed taking instructions from Saif-ur- Rehman should be punished for their collusion in that judgment. A very serious crime indeed, almost as serious as the attack on former Pakistan Chief Justice Syed Sajjad Ali Shah. That crime alone should have debarred Nawaz Sharif from political office forever. The PML-N should have been disqualified as a political party forever for crimes against the judiciary using political muscle.
Returning to the lowering of fuel prices, it was a step in the right direction. Imran Khan is a popular figure and he is now taking correct and popular decisions. People would be happier to learn if harsh sentences were to be announced for the law breakers and looters of public money. The harsher the better, the louder the cheers.
Meanwhile, it is learned that the export of wheat has been banned and the prices of flour have shown a corresponding decrease. These are steps welcomed by the people and shows that Imran’s government cares. The people will appreciate these gestures because they have a real effect on the common man, to lessen the burden of everyday life.
Dr. Hafeez Shaikh is to be complimented on these measures which are pro-public and necessary in a political setup. This is the hallmark of good governance.