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Petrol crisis: Someone has to step down

Updated January 20, 2015


If cronyism has to exist, the least the government can do is keep it in some sort of balance with governance and progress. — AFP
If cronyism has to exist, the least the government can do is keep it in some sort of balance with governance and progress. — AFP

It takes a special breed of people to create situations like these.

The perpetual energy crisis was always there. But with sheer ineptness and commitment to cronyism and tireless efforts at mismanaging priorities and obliging special interest groups, the government of Pakistan has now handed the citizens of Pakistan a petrol crisis as well.

Global oil prices have been in free fall for the last eight weeks. The prices are falling because there is too much supply of oil in the market but not enough buyers. So at a time of excess oil supply and plummeting prices, our government has managed to secure for the people of Pakistan an oil shortage.

Just let that sink in.

I doubt it will though because it makes absolutely no sense, except maybe the special kind of sense which the Ministry of Information possesses.

Know more: Supply-chain breakdown

The crisis is moronic, to say the least, and completely down to the inability of this government to get the simplest things right. What's worse is the magnitude of indifference with which it has been and is being handled.

In any other country, heads should have rolled long ago, people would have been fired or suspended from their jobs for being stupid enough to not see this coming or worse (but true) to have seen it coming but failing to do anything about it.

It isn't hyperbolic to say that the Minister of Petroleum should have been sacked by now. It would have made no difference to the oil supply in the country but it would have at least shown to the people that the government was capable of some kind of remorse.

But that is their problem, isn't it – they truly do not have any remorse for anything they do. It is as if they are perpetually sticking it to the public of Pakistan.

Read the analysis: Fuelling the fire

Well, the people deserve better. What the government doesn't understand is that sooner rather than later, people will start calling for change by hook or by crook. The masses are getting sick and tired of how their votes keep coming back to haunt them.

So, in very real terms, the democratic future of this country is at stake here; and it is the politicians this time who are putting it there.

I realise that cronyism is how the system is designed to work. I hate that fact, but I acknowledge it. Unlike some fellow analysts/writers, I do not live in 'la la land' where everything must either be by the book and meritorious or not be at all. I understand that the business of running countries like ours can get messy and the costs can be high keeping in mind the huge accommodations for special interest groups that need including.

But there are limits to that.

The only way this system sustains itself is by maintaining a balance between cronyist capitalism and progress. Now that balance has been thrown off, and although it is not hurting the government yet, it will hurt the country's already stuttering and stumbling walk to democracy.

See more: Ogra responsible for petrol crisis, PM Nawaz told

The government's indecision and inability to look beyond Islamabad and Lahore is hitting home now, and the gaps in governance are getting wider. If this is how they deal with a self-inflicted crisis, then one can only imagine how they would deal with a real crisis – oh wait, we know how that works too: Remember last month when 140 kids got massacred? Remember what happened after that? Nothing happened because this government simply did not have the guts to do what was needed in order to send a strong message to our enemies.

This government is literally an inch away from having everyone lose their trust in it.

When our kids die, they react by calling up a politicians' grand feast aka All Parties Conference. And when the country runs out of petrol, they take a day off in Islamabad to figure out how to save the ministers who did this to the 190 million people of Pakistan.

I am not worried about this government or their survival, I am worried about people losing faith in the idea of democracy.

This government’s performance has more and more people questioning democracy and its benefits. That is dangerous for Pakistan.

Take a look: Fuelling controversy

In a hashtag nation like ours, where people have attention spans of gold fish, our rulers have always banked on diversion tactics to take the eyes off their star performances. But unfortunately for them, when the system finally breaks, the last hashtag will stay there, and currently that hashtag seems to be #GetPetrolOrFreezeTrying.

So dear government, for the sake of appearances, fire the responsible minister, please. Give him another portfolio in a couple of weeks, because by then, people in this hashtag nation would have forgotten about it.

But at least pretend to be apologetic, at least pretend to care about the common citizen even if to perpetuate your own version of governance if nothing else.