In the case of Punjab, he went well beyond that simple boast of victory, maintaining that if he had wished he would not have let the PML-N run the province since 2008 because the party did not enjoy majority in the Provincial Assembly. About the criticism of his government by the “Sharif brothers”, he counselled them to clear their position before the NAB court, instead. With the entire province up in arms, protesting in the streets and at times resorting to violent acts, at the iniquitous deal it is getting from the federal government in the shape of up to 18 hours of electricity loadshedding, Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif has bemoaned the loss the power crisis is causing to all sectors of economic activity: industry, agriculture, education, health, etc. He openly blamed this sorry state of affairs on the “vindictive” attitude of the President towards the people of the province. The federal government, he pointed out, was not only not living up to its commitment of equal distribution of the available generation, but also giving 700MW of power produced in Punjab to other provinces. It is hard to gainsay the charge that in the face of declarations ‘of equal share in power supply’ made at the more than one power conference called by the Prime Minister to solve the crisis, Punjab is denied the benefit of electricity for up to 18 hours a day while Sindh is barely inconvenienced for three to four hours. It is even harder to understand the rationale of this iniquity when larger interests of the state are at stake.
As for the elections that Mr Zardari assured would be free and fair and held on time, their results will depend on the people’s perception of performance of the sitting governments and the credibility of opposition parties’ promises: whether they regard their misfortunes – endemic corruption, spiralling inflation, raging insecurity and mounting joblessness, for instance, – as the outcome of bad governance or just godsend and whether the call for change by certain opposition parties chimes in with their thinking.