So, let it be - Dr Farrukh Saleem - Sunday, December 26, 2010

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The PPP’s flotilla – leaky in the bows, leaky in the hold and leaky amidships – has managed to weather many a storm over the past three long, stormy years. Even though every single wind in the ocean is against a leaky ship, Admiral Asif Ali, through his masterly trims, timely turnings of the tiller, frequent adjustments in the rudder and the keel, has managed to keep the fore and oft balance of the leaky boat.

The Admiral has been – and continues to be – adroitly assisted by Vice Admiral A Rehman Malik, Rear Admiral Zaheer-ud-din Babar Awan, Commodore Salmaan Taseer and Captain Zulfiqar Mirza. Rear Admiral Awan and Commodore Taseer, commanding their own destroyers, are both busy firing guided-missiles at PML-N. Captain Mirza, commanding his own torpedo boat, keeps launching self-propelled Whitehead torpedoes at the MQM. And Vice Admiral Malik plays the great conciliator that no admiral can do without. The dream team dances on, because knowledge makes you laugh and wealth makes you dance.

The PPP, with 128 MNAs, leads a shaky, rickety – and leaky-coalition, but any alternative coalition from within the National Assembly will by definition be shakier and leakier. So, let it be. The PML-N is ruling over two-thirds of the Islamic Republic and every other political party – the PML-Q, the MQM, the ANP and the JUI-F – is milking either federal or provincial ministries to the max. So, let it be.

TV anchors demand “good governance” while inflation-inflicted, malodorous common Pakistanis commit seppuku (“stomach-cutting,” a form of Japanese ritual suicide). The PPP could care less because the PPP is in pure survival mode; for the PPP, it’s fire-fighting not governance. The GHQ, in the meanwhile, has captured every dimension of state power including foreign policy, domestic policy and economics – power without responsibility. Vow! So, let it be.

The predatory state continues to devour with no one in sight to tame it. Rewards of political power are extremely high, public policy is to benefit the rulers, taxes are rationalisation of theft and the predatory state under-invests both in human capital and infrastructure. With no one to tame the predatory state, let it be.

There is no valid social contract between the rulers and the 180 million being ruled. The predatory state – on its way to becoming a vampire state – is adamant on imposing additional taxes without altering its spending priorities. Public policy is for the rulers, and so are the taxes.

We have, in the meanwhile, become champion conspiracy theorists. It is said that conspiracies are the last refuge of the powerless. With too many problems all around us, with no solution in sight, we turn to weaving conspiracies; powerless, trying to make sense out of chaos.

Who will alter our spending priorities? Who will invest in health and education? Who will invest in infrastructure? Who will privatise loss-incurring state-owned enterprises? And, who will invest in justice? With no one in sight, let it be.

All the admirals, vice admirals, rear admirals, commodores and captains put together are either unwilling or incapable of making midcourse corrections – no correction, more leaks. And, there are two things that sink ships: loose lips and leaks. But the leaky, squeaky PPP flotilla floats on, oblivious of the fact that just a little leak can eventually sink as great a ship as RMS Titanic.

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad. Email:

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