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CEASE-FIRE TALKS IN GENEVA COLLAPSE
Fresh Saudi-led air strikes kill 15 Yemeni civilians

Thomas Gaist

Smoke billows during an air strike on the Republican Palace in Yemen’s southwestern city of Taiz April 17, 2015.

Saudi-led air strikes killed at least 15 and wounded scores more last weekend during attacks against targets in Marib, Saada, Lahj, Jawf and Aden, according to Yemeni media.
War planes under the Saudi-led Arab coalition also struck the Sanaa International Airport in Yemen’s capital over the weekend, and at least three civilians were killed 21 June by shelling of Aden’s Al Naqib hospital.
At least 6 million Yemenis currently face starvation or near-starvation conditions, and at least 9 million lack reliable access to water, according to UN estimates released last week.
Saudi forces have continued to deploy illegal cluster munitions against targets in Yemen, according to evidence published by Human Rights Watch last week.

3,000 civilians killed since March
The latest fatalities add to the more than 3,000 civilians killed since the beginning of Operation Decisive Storm in late March. The real civilian death toll may be as high as 6-8,000 according to differing estimates.
Negotiations between Riyadh and Houthi representatives, supposedly organized to meet the demands of the UN and human rights groups for a ceasefire to enable humanitarian deliveries, ended Friday without any agreement. In an indication of the unserious character of the negotiations, representatives from the Houthi militias were reportedly “like ghosts,” remaining inside their hotel rooms for most of the talks, according to reports.
Together with the steady bombardment of Yemeni cities and towns over the weekend, the breakdown of talks has underscored the incapacity of the various forces involved to halt the mounting bloodshed and chaos in Yemen, even temporarily.
The disintegration of of Yemen, increasingly a fact as large areas are taken over by the Houthis, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and various militias and former army units loyal to the US-Saudi puppet government of President Abd Mansur Hadi, shows in microcosm the breakdown of the nation-state framework.
Central governments imposed by the colonial powers and developed by the national bourgeoisie are being supplanted by a patchwork of mini states, controlled by tribal and sectarian-based militant groups variously aligned with Saudi, Turkey and Iran, and by extension with their geopolitical patrons in Washington, Bruseels and Moscow.

Non-state provincial forces in Iraq and Syria
Like Yemen, large areas of Iraq and Syria are now effectively governed by non-state and provincial forces, such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Kurdish peshmerga and a growing number of Iranian-backed Shia militias, upon which Baghdad has become increasingly reliant as the US-trained Iraqi Security Forces have proven unwilling to fight on behalf of the central government.
Since being driven from power by the Houthi offensive in the opening months of this year, the Hadi government, working in exile alongside its Saudi paymasters in Riyadh, has sought to reassert control areas of the country through the mobilization of militant factions hostile to the Iran-backed Houthis.
These efforts have included the quiet recruitment of AQAP as proxy fighters against the Houthis, on the side of the US-backed Saudi coalition and the remnants of the old regime. In Yemen, just as in Iraq and Syria, Islamist forces are being mobilized as shock troops on behalf of US imperialism and its allies.
Though propelled by the objective process of capitalist globalization, the breakup of Yemen, Iraq and Syria is also the subject of conscious planning by the imperialist powers. In testimony to Congress last week, US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said that preparations for end of “a single state of Iraq” are now “an important part of US strategy on the ground.”
Just days after Carter’s statements, the Washington Post and other leading US outlets published an article by leading pro-imperialist pundit Charles Krauthammer, calling for “a new US strategy” which embraces the breakup of Iraq and Syria.

‘The old borders are gone’
“It’s time to rethink Iraq and Syria. It begins by admitting that the old borders are gone, that a unified Syria or Iraq will never be reconstituted, that the Sykes-Picot map is defunct,” Krauthammer wrote.
Washington should “abandon anachronistic fealty to the central Iraqi government (now largely under Iran’s sway anyway) and begin supplying the Iraqi Kurds in a direct, 24-hour, Berlin-style airlift. And in Syria, intensify our training, equipping and air support for the now-developing Kurdish safe zone,” he wrote.
“In Mesopotamia, balkanization is the only way to go,” he wrote.
Barely more than a decade after the 2003 US invasion and occupation of Iraq, waged under the pretext of establishing “liberal democracy” in Baghdad and beyond, Washington is striving to shore up its flagging domination over the region through the promotion of a multitude of reactionary forces. Powerful circles in Washington are pushing for a further restructuring of the regional state system, along neocolonial and semi-feudal lines.
The plight of Yemen, overrun by right-wing militias and enduring a renewed Saudi onslaught with no end in sight, further illustrates the nightmare being produced by the new imperialist carve up of the region.
Heightened clashes along the Saudi-Yemeni border over the weekend, including reports of seizures of Saudi military sites in Jizan province by the insurgents on Sunday, have indicated that a major escalation of the ground war is in the offing.
—WSWS

Comment

Thomas Gaist

Smoke billows during an air strike on the Republican Palace in Yemen’s southwestern city of Taiz April 17, 2015.

Saudi-led air strikes killed at least 15 and wounded scores more last weekend during attacks against targets in Marib, Saada, Lahj, Jawf and Aden, according to Yemeni media.
War planes under the Saudi-led Arab coalition also struck the Sanaa International Airport in Yemen’s capital over the weekend, and at least three civilians were killed 21 June by shelling of Aden’s Al Naqib hospital.
At least 6 million Yemenis currently face starvation or near-starvation conditions, and at least 9 million lack reliable access to water, according to UN estimates released last week.
Saudi forces have continued to deploy illegal cluster munitions against targets in Yemen, according to evidence published by Human Rights Watch last week.

3,000 civilians killed since March
The latest fatalities add to the more than 3,000 civilians killed since the beginning of Operation Decisive Storm in late March. The real civilian death toll may be as high as 6-8,000 according to differing estimates.
Negotiations between Riyadh and Houthi representatives, supposedly organized to meet the demands of the UN and human rights groups for a ceasefire to enable humanitarian deliveries, ended Friday without any agreement. In an indication of the unserious character of the negotiations, representatives from the Houthi militias were reportedly “like ghosts,” remaining inside their hotel rooms for most of the talks, according to reports.
Together with the steady bombardment of Yemeni cities and towns over the weekend, the breakdown of talks has underscored the incapacity of the various forces involved to halt the mounting bloodshed and chaos in Yemen, even temporarily.
The disintegration of of Yemen, increasingly a fact as large areas are taken over by the Houthis, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and various militias and former army units loyal to the US-Saudi puppet government of President Abd Mansur Hadi, shows in microcosm the breakdown of the nation-state framework.
Central governments imposed by the colonial powers and developed by the national bourgeoisie are being supplanted by a patchwork of mini states, controlled by tribal and sectarian-based militant groups variously aligned with Saudi, Turkey and Iran, and by extension with their geopolitical patrons in Washington, Bruseels and Moscow.

Non-state provincial forces in Iraq and Syria
Like Yemen, large areas of Iraq and Syria are now effectively governed by non-state and provincial forces, such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Kurdish peshmerga and a growing number of Iranian-backed Shia militias, upon which Baghdad has become increasingly reliant as the US-trained Iraqi Security Forces have proven unwilling to fight on behalf of the central government.
Since being driven from power by the Houthi offensive in the opening months of this year, the Hadi government, working in exile alongside its Saudi paymasters in Riyadh, has sought to reassert control areas of the country through the mobilization of militant factions hostile to the Iran-backed Houthis.
These efforts have included the quiet recruitment of AQAP as proxy fighters against the Houthis, on the side of the US-backed Saudi coalition and the remnants of the old regime. In Yemen, just as in Iraq and Syria, Islamist forces are being mobilized as shock troops on behalf of US imperialism and its allies.
Though propelled by the objective process of capitalist globalization, the breakup of Yemen, Iraq and Syria is also the subject of conscious planning by the imperialist powers. In testimony to Congress last week, US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said that preparations for end of “a single state of Iraq” are now “an important part of US strategy on the ground.”
Just days after Carter’s statements, the Washington Post and other leading US outlets published an article by leading pro-imperialist pundit Charles Krauthammer, calling for “a new US strategy” which embraces the breakup of Iraq and Syria.

‘The old borders are gone’
“It’s time to rethink Iraq and Syria. It begins by admitting that the old borders are gone, that a unified Syria or Iraq will never be reconstituted, that the Sykes-Picot map is defunct,” Krauthammer wrote.
Washington should “abandon anachronistic fealty to the central Iraqi government (now largely under Iran’s sway anyway) and begin supplying the Iraqi Kurds in a direct, 24-hour, Berlin-style airlift. And in Syria, intensify our training, equipping and air support for the now-developing Kurdish safe zone,” he wrote.
“In Mesopotamia, balkanization is the only way to go,” he wrote.
Barely more than a decade after the 2003 US invasion and occupation of Iraq, waged under the pretext of establishing “liberal democracy” in Baghdad and beyond, Washington is striving to shore up its flagging domination over the region through the promotion of a multitude of reactionary forces. Powerful circles in Washington are pushing for a further restructuring of the regional state system, along neocolonial and semi-feudal lines.
The plight of Yemen, overrun by right-wing militias and enduring a renewed Saudi onslaught with no end in sight, further illustrates the nightmare being produced by the new imperialist carve up of the region.
Heightened clashes along the Saudi-Yemeni border over the weekend, including reports of seizures of Saudi military sites in Jizan province by the insurgents on Sunday, have indicated that a major escalation of the ground war is in the offing.
—WSWS


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President Sirisena’s dilemma

Jehan Perera in Colombo

The demand for the dissolution of parliament is getting increasingly compelling.  Civil society leaders, such as the Ven Maduluwave Sobitha, who led the movement for good governance during the presidential elections have come out strongly to insist that President Maithripala Sirisena should use his presidential powers to dissolve parliament and hold the much anticipated general elections.  Public opinion surveys and everyday conversations on the topic indicate that the general population is getting disillusioned with the present situation and agree that general elections to elect a new government with a parliamentary majority are necessary.  There is recognition that the present minority government led by the UNP cannot deliver the changes that the people want for the reason that it does not command a majority in parliament.   The UNP is alive to this problem and has been demanding the dissolution of parliament.
Initially in the aftermath of the presidential election it was expected that President Sirisena would dissolve parliament sometime in April in keeping with his election manifesto that laid out a 100 day plan of action which was to be completed by the end of April.  However, the president has been showing a reluctance to dissolve parliament.  There are likely to at least two reasons for this.  The first is that prior to going to the polls, the president is keen to heal the rift in his party that has come about because of the bid by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa to obtain a position of leadership within the SLFP.  Along with the rest of his party, President Sirisena realises that going in for general elections with a divided party is a recipe for defeat that can undermine his own credibility as the new leader of the SLFP.  He has said there is no room for two leaders.
Second, the president is committed to delivering on the main promises he made during the presidential election campaign prior to going in for another election.  There is a national consensus that the preferential voting system which leads to an unhealthy and often violent inner party competition and expenditure of vast sums of money within political parties for votes at the expense of others in the same party needs to be changed for good governance.  In a recent meeting with civil society members of the ‘March 12 Movement’ led by the election monitoring organisation PAFFREL, the president spoke of his own experiences in contesting elections under the previous electorate-based  first-past-the-post system and the present district-based proportional voting system.  He said that there had been a huge increase in his own election campaign expenses between 1989 and 2010 and this system needed to be reformed.

Best opportunity
During the discussion with the civil society members, President Sirisena showed that he was prepared to think through issues rather than look at them superficially.  While welcoming and signing the document, he demonstrated clarity of thought in critiquing the March 12 resolution which laid out 8 principles on which the candidature of prospective politicians should be ascertained.  He came across as a public educator in his manner of analysis.  One of the conclusions of the discussion was that the massive increase in expenses during elections was a root cause of the corruption that accompanies the political careers of so many who are elected to represent the people.  The president’s commitment to the passage of the 20th Amendment to the constitution is due to his belief that this is the best opportunity to put in place a system of governance that will ensure good governance in the future.
The present parliamentary and government configuration gives the president a 2/3 majority to enable constitutional change.  This is due to the dependence that the minority UNP government has on him to keep it afloat and the majority SLFP opposition has due to the fact that he is president of the SLFP.  The president’s role was seen when he championed the 19th Amendment and ensured that it was past with the requisite 2/3 majority in parliament although the political parties were at odds with one another on the issue of the amendment.  A similar situation has arisen with the 20th Amendment with the different political parties saying different things about it.  The cabinet has approved a parliament of 237 members, whereas the UNP is of the view that the figure should be 225, the SLFP insists on 255 and the ethnic minority parties call for a double vote as found is some countries that follow the mixed proportional and first-past-the-post system that the 20th Amendment envisages.
In these circumstances it can be understood that President Sirisena sees the present parliamentary configuration as one that needs to be used if the 20th Amendment is to be passed at all.  He is best able to exercise his power to promote good governance when both the government and opposition are disempowered and can only ignore him at their peril. If the 20th Amendment is not passed now, it may never be.  But despite President Sirisena’s clear preference for the 20th Amendment to be passed prior to the dissolution of parliament, there is one factor that might force his hand to dissolve parliament without passing the amendment.  This is the question of the mounting challenge to his leadership of the SLFP being posed by former president Rajapaksa.  It is this issue that can push the president to make the decision to dissolve parliament sooner rather than later.

Pre-emptive action
At the present time the UNP led government is disempowered because it does not have a parliamentary majority.  The government faces two no-confidence motions against the prime minister and finance minister, which if passed would require the dissolution of the government and appointment of a new prime minister.  Only the president stands between the no-confidence motions and their passage in parliament.  At the same time the SLFP majority in parliament is also disempowered because they do not form the government.  As most of them lack a vision of good governance that President Sirisena has, they are looking to him to permit them to utilise their parliamentary majority to get the better of the government. 
As politicians who seek power most of the SLFP parliamentarians are concerned primarily about retaining or improving their positions of power and not good governance of which President Sirisena has become the foremost champion from within the political sphere.   The SLFP knows that it is the president who stands between them and the no-confidence motions they have tabled in parliament against the prime minister and finance minister.  They are aggrieved that he is not taking their side and ousting the UNP government.  This is why both former president Rajapaksa and his supporters have been openly defiant of the president’s directive that SLFP members should not take part in the political rallies being organised to ensure the return of the former president into active politics on behalf of the SLFP and in a position of leadership. 
However, President Sirisena has reiterated that he will not provide the former president with nominations from the SLFP to contest future elections and more especially that he will not countenance the former president as the SLFP’s prime ministerial candidate.  He has also made it clear to his party members that they will have to choose between supporting the SLFP or the former president.  At the present time the former president does not have his own political party or a grassroots party machinery to support him outside of the SLFP.  An early dissolution of parliament will prevent former president Rajapaksa from obtaining either the time or space to set up a new party machine with the capacity to mobilise voters in sufficient numbers to become a winning force.  This may be the choice the president is forced to make even though his heart and the practice of statesmanship lies with effort to ensure the passage of the 20th Amendment.

Comment

Jehan Perera in Colombo

The demand for the dissolution of parliament is getting increasingly compelling.  Civil society leaders, such as the Ven Maduluwave Sobitha, who led the movement for good governance during the presidential elections have come out strongly to insist that President Maithripala Sirisena should use his presidential powers to dissolve parliament and hold the much anticipated general elections.  Public opinion surveys and everyday conversations on the topic indicate that the general population is getting disillusioned with the present situation and agree that general elections to elect a new government with a parliamentary majority are necessary.  There is recognition that the present minority government led by the UNP cannot deliver the changes that the people want for the reason that it does not command a majority in parliament.   The UNP is alive to this problem and has been demanding the dissolution of parliament.
Initially in the aftermath of the presidential election it was expected that President Sirisena would dissolve parliament sometime in April in keeping with his election manifesto that laid out a 100 day plan of action which was to be completed by the end of April.  However, the president has been showing a reluctance to dissolve parliament.  There are likely to at least two reasons for this.  The first is that prior to going to the polls, the president is keen to heal the rift in his party that has come about because of the bid by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa to obtain a position of leadership within the SLFP.  Along with the rest of his party, President Sirisena realises that going in for general elections with a divided party is a recipe for defeat that can undermine his own credibility as the new leader of the SLFP.  He has said there is no room for two leaders.
Second, the president is committed to delivering on the main promises he made during the presidential election campaign prior to going in for another election.  There is a national consensus that the preferential voting system which leads to an unhealthy and often violent inner party competition and expenditure of vast sums of money within political parties for votes at the expense of others in the same party needs to be changed for good governance.  In a recent meeting with civil society members of the ‘March 12 Movement’ led by the election monitoring organisation PAFFREL, the president spoke of his own experiences in contesting elections under the previous electorate-based  first-past-the-post system and the present district-based proportional voting system.  He said that there had been a huge increase in his own election campaign expenses between 1989 and 2010 and this system needed to be reformed.

Best opportunity
During the discussion with the civil society members, President Sirisena showed that he was prepared to think through issues rather than look at them superficially.  While welcoming and signing the document, he demonstrated clarity of thought in critiquing the March 12 resolution which laid out 8 principles on which the candidature of prospective politicians should be ascertained.  He came across as a public educator in his manner of analysis.  One of the conclusions of the discussion was that the massive increase in expenses during elections was a root cause of the corruption that accompanies the political careers of so many who are elected to represent the people.  The president’s commitment to the passage of the 20th Amendment to the constitution is due to his belief that this is the best opportunity to put in place a system of governance that will ensure good governance in the future.
The present parliamentary and government configuration gives the president a 2/3 majority to enable constitutional change.  This is due to the dependence that the minority UNP government has on him to keep it afloat and the majority SLFP opposition has due to the fact that he is president of the SLFP.  The president’s role was seen when he championed the 19th Amendment and ensured that it was past with the requisite 2/3 majority in parliament although the political parties were at odds with one another on the issue of the amendment.  A similar situation has arisen with the 20th Amendment with the different political parties saying different things about it.  The cabinet has approved a parliament of 237 members, whereas the UNP is of the view that the figure should be 225, the SLFP insists on 255 and the ethnic minority parties call for a double vote as found is some countries that follow the mixed proportional and first-past-the-post system that the 20th Amendment envisages.
In these circumstances it can be understood that President Sirisena sees the present parliamentary configuration as one that needs to be used if the 20th Amendment is to be passed at all.  He is best able to exercise his power to promote good governance when both the government and opposition are disempowered and can only ignore him at their peril. If the 20th Amendment is not passed now, it may never be.  But despite President Sirisena’s clear preference for the 20th Amendment to be passed prior to the dissolution of parliament, there is one factor that might force his hand to dissolve parliament without passing the amendment.  This is the question of the mounting challenge to his leadership of the SLFP being posed by former president Rajapaksa.  It is this issue that can push the president to make the decision to dissolve parliament sooner rather than later.

Pre-emptive action
At the present time the UNP led government is disempowered because it does not have a parliamentary majority.  The government faces two no-confidence motions against the prime minister and finance minister, which if passed would require the dissolution of the government and appointment of a new prime minister.  Only the president stands between the no-confidence motions and their passage in parliament.  At the same time the SLFP majority in parliament is also disempowered because they do not form the government.  As most of them lack a vision of good governance that President Sirisena has, they are looking to him to permit them to utilise their parliamentary majority to get the better of the government. 
As politicians who seek power most of the SLFP parliamentarians are concerned primarily about retaining or improving their positions of power and not good governance of which President Sirisena has become the foremost champion from within the political sphere.   The SLFP knows that it is the president who stands between them and the no-confidence motions they have tabled in parliament against the prime minister and finance minister.  They are aggrieved that he is not taking their side and ousting the UNP government.  This is why both former president Rajapaksa and his supporters have been openly defiant of the president’s directive that SLFP members should not take part in the political rallies being organised to ensure the return of the former president into active politics on behalf of the SLFP and in a position of leadership. 
However, President Sirisena has reiterated that he will not provide the former president with nominations from the SLFP to contest future elections and more especially that he will not countenance the former president as the SLFP’s prime ministerial candidate.  He has also made it clear to his party members that they will have to choose between supporting the SLFP or the former president.  At the present time the former president does not have his own political party or a grassroots party machinery to support him outside of the SLFP.  An early dissolution of parliament will prevent former president Rajapaksa from obtaining either the time or space to set up a new party machine with the capacity to mobilise voters in sufficient numbers to become a winning force.  This may be the choice the president is forced to make even though his heart and the practice of statesmanship lies with effort to ensure the passage of the 20th Amendment.


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 ISLAMABAD DIARY

Heat wave kills at least 746 in Pakistan

Jonaid Iqbal

At school we were taught the definition of Greek tragedy, which says that tragedy is bound to happen when public expectation exceeds ground reality.
 We take note of this definition taught at school because we are witnessing this unusual weather phenomenon — bane of climate change — occurring during first five days of the holy month of Ramadan.
This week the Pakistan public had to go through scorching sun and intenše heat wave, (temperatures going beyond 50 degrees Celsius) and caušing death to as many as 746 individuals in Karachi, not counting deaths in other places.
The Opposition in the National Assembly as well in other four provincial assemblies (including the Punjab) has put the blame on the federal government for tardiness in ensuring electricity supply and unannounced power outages.
One example: Quote of State Minister for Power, Mr. Abid Sher Ali, “The government ought not to be blamed for people’s deaths taking place as a result of dehydration and suffocation.
Opposition parties have declared Friday (today, June 26) as a day of mourning and protest for as they have put it, the government’s insensitivity to public welfare, and also demanded resignation of Water and Power Minister Khwaja Asif.
To enforce the threat, they walked out from National Assembly proceedings on Monday and Tuesday. The government took full advantage of Opposition members ‘absence and rushed through the four trillion budget, and had it approved in the House.
As damage control, Water and Power Ministry issued a public advertisement in newspapers urging the public ‘to decide whether load shedding has not decreased’ during the present two years of PML-N government.
This may show the futility of public statements made at unpropitious time.
One might recall in this regard, that in 2008, on his first day as Prime Minister Mr. Yousaf Raza Gilani made unnecessary announcement that by the end of year, power outages would become a thing of the past. His Water and Power Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf later made the same kind of boastful claim. Nothing happened.
By recalling these two claims made by Pakistan People’s Party government between 2008 and 2013, one might rightly assess that masses consider energy and electricity has a sensitive issue.
Yet, while presenting this year’s budget Finance Minister Mr. Ishaq Dar forgot to recall these precedents and boldly declared the end of power outages after December 2017.
His water and power minister Khwaja Asif made bolder statement a day before the first day of Ramadan. He said his ministry had succeeded in generating 16,000 MW of electricity for the first time. He promised relief in power outages during Iftar, Travih and Sehari times.
Nothing of the kind happened. Instead we were only greeted with total collapse of electricity system on he very first day, and this equally irked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
This kind of power shortage continued for full five days until God took mercy of us and sent down cooler temperatures and rain shower on the sixth day. Even then the Opposition was not moved and one day’s closure of Sindh was declared by PPP government on 24th Ramadan.
Returning to National Assembly [on Wednesday] PPP leader Syed Khursheed Shah accused the federal government for power cuts even as death toll from the heat wave had reached 830, according to him.
We know that the PML-N had won last [2013l  election was holding PPP government responsible for electricity shortage, and we see ganging up of Opposition parties and repeat of the same kind of accusation. A few days back PML-N’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, inaugurated some road project near Islamabad airport. Here he declared, his party would win the next [2018] election if there is electricity.
He may have a point, there.

Comment

Jonaid Iqbal

At school we were taught the definition of Greek tragedy, which says that tragedy is bound to happen when public expectation exceeds ground reality.
 We take note of this definition taught at school because we are witnessing this unusual weather phenomenon — bane of climate change — occurring during first five days of the holy month of Ramadan.
This week the Pakistan public had to go through scorching sun and intenše heat wave, (temperatures going beyond 50 degrees Celsius) and caušing death to as many as 746 individuals in Karachi, not counting deaths in other places.
The Opposition in the National Assembly as well in other four provincial assemblies (including the Punjab) has put the blame on the federal government for tardiness in ensuring electricity supply and unannounced power outages.
One example: Quote of State Minister for Power, Mr. Abid Sher Ali, “The government ought not to be blamed for people’s deaths taking place as a result of dehydration and suffocation.
Opposition parties have declared Friday (today, June 26) as a day of mourning and protest for as they have put it, the government’s insensitivity to public welfare, and also demanded resignation of Water and Power Minister Khwaja Asif.
To enforce the threat, they walked out from National Assembly proceedings on Monday and Tuesday. The government took full advantage of Opposition members ‘absence and rushed through the four trillion budget, and had it approved in the House.
As damage control, Water and Power Ministry issued a public advertisement in newspapers urging the public ‘to decide whether load shedding has not decreased’ during the present two years of PML-N government.
This may show the futility of public statements made at unpropitious time.
One might recall in this regard, that in 2008, on his first day as Prime Minister Mr. Yousaf Raza Gilani made unnecessary announcement that by the end of year, power outages would become a thing of the past. His Water and Power Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf later made the same kind of boastful claim. Nothing happened.
By recalling these two claims made by Pakistan People’s Party government between 2008 and 2013, one might rightly assess that masses consider energy and electricity has a sensitive issue.
Yet, while presenting this year’s budget Finance Minister Mr. Ishaq Dar forgot to recall these precedents and boldly declared the end of power outages after December 2017.
His water and power minister Khwaja Asif made bolder statement a day before the first day of Ramadan. He said his ministry had succeeded in generating 16,000 MW of electricity for the first time. He promised relief in power outages during Iftar, Travih and Sehari times.
Nothing of the kind happened. Instead we were only greeted with total collapse of electricity system on he very first day, and this equally irked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
This kind of power shortage continued for full five days until God took mercy of us and sent down cooler temperatures and rain shower on the sixth day. Even then the Opposition was not moved and one day’s closure of Sindh was declared by PPP government on 24th Ramadan.
Returning to National Assembly [on Wednesday] PPP leader Syed Khursheed Shah accused the federal government for power cuts even as death toll from the heat wave had reached 830, according to him.
We know that the PML-N had won last [2013l  election was holding PPP government responsible for electricity shortage, and we see ganging up of Opposition parties and repeat of the same kind of accusation. A few days back PML-N’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, inaugurated some road project near Islamabad airport. Here he declared, his party would win the next [2018] election if there is electricity.
He may have a point, there.


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