No spin zone: Tap the passion through power play - Anjum Niaz - Sunday 10th April 2011

It was a power play moment. Suddenly everyone said Captain Shahid Afridi should have taken the option of ‘power play’ allowing the Pakistani batsmen to play aggressive shots. Simultaneously, President Zardari should have gone for power play on March 30 when the nation was ready to take the leap of faith. The 180 million people stood up behind their flag as the word Pakistan resounded across the country.
They would have done anything for their nation if asked. But no one asked. The momentum was lost. A great opportunity wasted. The power play option is time bound. It calls for on the spot decision. Had the Presidency struck and seized the passion, half of Zardari’s work to put Pakistan back on the rails may have been accomplished.His game plan to take full advantage of power play oozing out from every man, woman and child like an oil spill and spreading everywhere, could tap an unfathomable mine of priceless material called ‘human resource and good will’. It’s not every day leaders mint a fortune of passion that can spur the nation to greater heights.
The Gilani-Singh chat while pretending to watch the match at Mohali is a small time achievement when compared to what Zardari could have achieved on home ground. He can still sweep up the remnants of passion scattered like pearls shining in the ocean of people’s hearts. Instead of assembling his party minions and factotums to defy anyone who dares to cross their path to corruption, the president should take concrete steps to stall the decay whose smell has hit the high heavens.
Let’s then start with the twin curse of energy deficit and absence of law and order. Horror stories of how the independent power producers have been chased out, monetarily molested, threatened because the ruling party’s demand for kickbacks and commissions was not met or in one case the leader wanted to own a certain power plant because it was the proverbial ‘golden goose’ convince observers that the energy crisis can evaporate in “one day” should the government desire. Much has been written, said and discussed ad nauseam on the subject by energy experts that to add another word on it is sheer waste of time.
Calling a meeting of ‘wise men’ to “revamp the power sector” as the president did last week is to play a game of trivial pursuits. Why? The bijli-wunderkind asked to switch on their light bulbs were: PM Gilani, Choudhary Ahmad Mukhtar, Syed Naveed Qamar, Syed Khursheed Shah, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and Anwar Saifullah Khan. I need not say anymore; their faux credentials speak for them.
The president holds the magic wand and he alone can give the best news ever to his nation by announcing that load shedding will be a thing of the past soon. How soon? Well, it should have happened yesterday, but even tomorrow is passable. In lieu of his promise, the president should extract a price from his nation. The president, the prime minister and the cabinet don’t need to go hunting for the cure. Just open the website ‘Lyved’ and they’ll get the basic mechanics on how to motivate a moribund nation. “What do you think is the single most important element to getting things done, and accomplishing goals? It’s action…,” says the website.
“You can dream, you can talk, and you can plan; but nothing is going to happen until you take that first step. It’s the difference between a sayer and a doer. It’s the difference between change and remaining the same.”
Here’s my two bit of advice for the government: instead of warming their seats in their designer suits, our leaders, in government and opposition, must be seen scouring the roads and looking at life first hand. Never mind the insecurity they may fear. What good is life spent in a bunker behind bars that may keep potential killers out? What good is leadership if you can’t mix with people who voted you in? The Presidency; the PM House; the Ministers’ Colony; London’s Park Lane luxury apartments (where Nawaz Sharif holds audience); or Altaf Hussain who holds a caged audience of thousands with his frequent long distance telephonic preaching; or Asfandyar Wali’s four-walled KP home? Their moral fortitude sounds so hollow.
Benazir Bhutto stands alone as the bravest, boldest and the best that Pakistan has been blessed with. She returned to be amidst her people and laid down her life for them. Bravo!
As for the scourge of terrorism and absence of law and order, President Zardari has to appoint a separate department of homeland security.
President Bush set up the department after 9/11 happened. It has worked. There have been no terrorist attacks on American soil since then. Currently it’s headed by a woman called Janet Napolitano. She enjoys President Obama’s undiluted trust but is left alone by him to get on with her job.
President Zardari gets his homeland security czar Rahman Malik to do odd jobs like pandering to the demands of coalition partners who routinely threaten leaving the government. Malik is a cheesy negotiator, so he should be given Raza Rabbani’s portfolio and the department of security entrusted to someone with expertise in this field. The good Senator Rabbani should be given law and Babar Awan made minister of religious affairs as he’s indeed a scholar of Islam and a sacred vocaliser.
All’s well that ends well. Everyone will be flying a flag and living in the Ministers’ Colony – the ultimate jiyala dream. Should President Zardari continue to flirt with fate, allow his hawks a free rein, then as the chief architect, he will squarely bear the onus if things continue to collapse.
When the great slide begins, its mighty force uproots everything coming in its way. Power play can overnight turn into power witch hunt, taking down the power players who until a day earlier frolicked in palaces and plotted their own survival totally disregarding how the majority live.
History screams out with warnings our rulers choose to ignore. Begin by showing us your tax returns.

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