Between the Devil and the Deep Sea
Dr. Rasheed Hasan Khan
The hundred days honeymoon period of Nawaz Sharif government are over, with nothing spectacular to show for it. Nawaz Sharif had made a commitment to give priority to revitalizing the economy, Solving the Energy Crisis and Restoring Law and Order, especially in the context of religious extremism and terrorism. The government made much of the various issues like the Budget, Energy Crisis etc. in the media with endless talk-fests on electronic media and also organized an APC (All Parties Conference) for the formulation of a strategy with regards to Religious Extremism. All this has sadly remained more of an exercise in words, with little to show in terms of concrete action.
Let us see what is actually happening on the ground. There is a sharp rise in extremist violence, targeting religious minorities as well as innocent citizens in the various cities of Pakistan, especially in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa. The public in Pakistan is at a loss to know the present status of the recommendations of the APC and the outlook in the near future. Everything seems to be frozen in an impenetrable fog. As far as street crime, extortion, kidnapping, murder etc. are concerned there is no mentionable change from the dismal past.
The economic re-vitalization, envisaged by the government, seems to be teetering on the edge of IMF conditionality, the tariff of public utilities have undergone a sharp increase thereby causing an unbearable increase in the already impossible burden of the common man. The depreciation in the price of the Rupee is also affecting the balance of payments and the cost of necessary imports (which means everything from edible oil to petroleum and its products) is breaking all previous records. Inflation and rising prices are making life miserable for the common man.
Nawaz Sharif government seems firmly lodged between the Devil of Religious Extremism and Terrorism and the Deep Sea of International Financial Institutions. Only timely and resolute dynamism can save it and the people of Pakistan from unspeakable disaster, let us hope that those at the helm of affairs realize the importance of making the right decisions at the right time.