THE country's dire economic straits on the one hand and the wantonly lavish ways of its leadership on the other, present a most striking example of the thoughtlessness and ineptitude with which the country is being run in general. In this backdrop, to hear the Prime Minister urge all constituent units of the federation to exercise austerity should be greatly welcomed though, at the same time, the call would not fail to raise eyebrows at the central government's own attitude towards this highly apt advice. The extra-large team of ministers and advisers and hosts of other aides enjoying all the benefits of high government officials and much more, points to the glaring disparity between Mr Gilani's counsel and what is happening in his own backyard. Of course, the same expansiveness applies to the provinces as well, but the PM does not need to constitute a committee to suggest the trimming of governments of unwieldy sizes, eliminate costly hangers-on and take measures to reduce expenditure in other spheres of governance. Both the centre and the provinces should know their responsibility and check unnecessary expenses. In fact, an ordinary observer of the scene let alone those who run the show is witness to the manner in which the official resources are being squandered to suit the whims of the ruling classes. The shocking misery of the common man whose life has been reduced to a virtually fruitless struggle to make both ends meet is callously disregarded. Yet, for all the disturbing rumblings in society, underlining the crisis of survival, the official circles behave as rich government's representatives. Look at the frequency of foreign visits they undertake, the big entourage that accompany them and the posh hotels they put up in The rich classes in general do not lag behind in flaunting their wealth. Sanity demands that the entire society take stock of the situation and heed the PM's call for austerity.