Aug 5, 2010
The floods have washed away the thin veneer of respect with which the Punjab government had been treating the federal government. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has taken President Asif Zardari to task for undertaking a tour of Europe at a time when millions of Pakistanis affected by floods needed him at home. The same refrain is repeated by PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif. The attack, which is consistent with the more critical approach the Sharifs have of late adopted towards President Zardari’s camp, worries the federal government. The PPP-led coalition in Islamabad can ill afford to take on the Sharifs at a time when it is confronted with so much, literally, from Khyber to Karachi.
The problem is compounded by the bad media the centre is getting. But the marathon telecast on state-run television to highlight the federal government’s flood-relief measures is hardly the answer. An even sadder aspect of this media-hogging is that the marathon telecast on PTV was ordered by the prime minister himself. This was the moment when Mr Yousuf Raza Gilani needed to maintain his poise. As for his government’s detractors in the Punjab set-up, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s love of the camera is well known. He believes in publicising the good deeds that he attempts from time to time.
True to form, the current floods have again thrown up images of our hero pictured with the perfectly cast extras. With their sullen, wrinkled, benumbed faces, this select group from among the motley crowd will be hoping that the relief goes beyond the click of the camera. Unfortunately, those who have appeared in these moving group photographs before will confirm that this is not often the case. What get exposed eventually is an inadequate infrastructure and an administration that could have done better.