Once bitten, twice shy. No one should have learnt the lessons of exuberant claims better than Prime Minister Raja Parvez Ashraf when he was the minister for water and power. As one loadshedding deadline after the other zipped by, the man who would be king acquired the reputation of a man whose word wasn’t to be trusted.
Insiders say the mandarins in the country’s power apparatus were well aware of the enormity of the problem. One of them even broke ranks at one point in time and revealed to the media that the problem would go away, if plans work out, by 2018. Some are said to have urged Mr Ashraf not to give too close a deadline. But the applause being a politician’s poison of choice, the minister went ahead and made a series of statements. TV political slapstick comedy shows, took it on from there.
When he became the premier, he was noticeably reticent about a deadline for the loadshedding. Noticeable, because mischievous reporters would ask him about little else. One would have thought he was the power minister all over again. Still, all portfolios are the prime minister’s portfolios and power is one of them, so answers had to be given. We will solve the problem but I have been burnt too many time by this deadlines business, was his message to the press after becoming the PM.
The above was necessary to map out the learning curve of the government with regard to this problem. Governance is, amongst other things, the management of expectations. The public would have even been alright with the honest 2018 prediction. Anything, as long as it is honest. So why, the question comes up, did the government see it fit to say the Ramzan loadshedding would be brought to next to nothing?
Summer doesn’t make mercury rise as much as fasting does. Unexpected loadshedding around this time of the lunar year rankles like nothing else. Many political scientists would cite the veracity of the word of the government to be an aspect of the writ of state itself. Let’s not throw it around, shall we?