On Monday, Gilani’s government completed 1525 days and became the longest single term of any Prime Minister in Pakistan. It is an accomplishment in itself considering that his party, PPP, never had the majority in the National Assembly and that Gilani had to keep all his allies together for such a long time. Probably that is “the very reason” his government has done nothing but struggled to sustain itself in power.
The security situation in Pakistan was not even satisfactory when Gilani became PM. But it is also true that it has worsened under his tenure. Suicide bombing have ceded, at least for right now, but the ethnic and religious violence and the questionable drone attacks by US makes Pakistan a dangerous place to be in. Bold decisions vis-a-vis security were never made, probably because the minority Government did not want to antagonise the Pakistan Army or US on one hand nor alienate any of its ethnic partners like ANP or MQM on the other. Such is the security price of the longevity of his government.
The economy of Pakistan that had shown signs of some strength and recovery under President Musharraf has deteriorated exponentially under this government since 2008. The shortage of potable water, electricity and natural gas/CNG has turned the lives of Pakistanis miserable. Even the largely trumpeted efforts to resolve some of these issues were marred with corruption and kickbacks and have yielded nothing. According to CIA World Factbook, “Pakistan remains stuck in a low-income, low-growth trap, with growth averaging 2.9 percent per year from 2008 to 2011.” Pakistani Rupee has lost whopping 50 percent of its worth against US dollar since 2008. The cost of every item has sky rocketed in last four years. Today in Pakistan, it has become near impossible for honest hard working people to even make their ends meet. The worst part is that there seems to be no work towards solution for common man’s problems by Zardari, Gilani & Co. As a very reckless and dishonest policy practice, they have been borrowing from banks and printing money without any fiscal discipline, so that the cash may be doled out to poor Pakistanis in the name of “Benazir Income support Program”; a shrewd move to win votes by using “Tax-payers money”. The same money is also used to keep his allies in the rank. It is no secret that the corruption has touched new heights in Pakistan. Shamelessly, one of his cabinet ministers on TV alleged that “it is their right to be corrupt, because it is their turn in power.” The money has indeed won loyalties for the Government and has trumped all political ethics, ideals and slogans. Pakistan has certainly paid a very heavy price for the nominal democracy. Under Gilani, there have been some constitutional amendments that have “theoretically” decentralized power and strengthened the parliament. However, these laudable legislations appear farcical when we look at the PMs adamant and arrogant disdain of Supreme Court and his government’s unqualified and illegal appointments; all against the letter and the essence of the constitution and laws.
Its time all Pakistanis reflected upon the happenings of last 1525 days. This is not the kind of democracy educated, moderate, honest, decent Pakistanis have sought. If duration of government is any yardstick of success then celebrations and commendations are in order. But if government is judged by what it does and delivers then Pakistan certainly deserves better.
USA, May 28.