The more corrupt the state, the more laws. Tacitus There are many who firmly believe that the coalition government has failed to fix economic priorities in Pakistan. Unfortunately, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has played into the hands of his coalition partners so many times that it has become impossible for him to pay the required attention to economic issues. The dynamics of coalition politics may have allowed the government to survive comfortably on the political front, but it has deprived a vast majority of the people the opportunity to improve their living conditions. During the regimes tenure, which will fade away in the next year or so, loud cries have been heard from major public sector organisations calling for help. If put together, these institutions not only are responsible for retarding the countrys growth rate, but have also squandered away huge amounts of money without being held accountable for it. Today, it is unfortunate that a vital national institution like Pakistan Railways is on the brink of collapse, as the authorities are unable to pay salaries to the employees, while more than 150 trains have been shut down because there are no engines available to provide service on these routes. The story in other public sector institutions, including PIA, NLC, Steel Mills, etc, is not different, as they are also on the verge of disaster. For example, to run an efficient airline, according to international standards, the maximum number of employees allowed for every aircraft is 250. However, reportedly, PIA has around 400 employees per plane, due to which it has had to bear the brunt of huge losses for the last so many years. Likewise, vast sums of money have either been wasted or misappropriated by successive managements of Pakistan Steel Mills, which has raked up terrible losses, to an extent, where it has severely dented the countrys economy. Certainly, all this did not happen in a single day, but the rot has continued over the years under the stewardship of successive governments. However, now the situation has reached such an alarming state where in case the government did not act, it will be charged with criminal negligence. The first alarm bell rang in 2005, but no one in the Railways or the then government heeded. Pumping in billions of rupees in these organisations or raising fares was never a solution and would not help to clean up the mess. Another government institution on the brink of disaster is the energy sector, where perennial line losses, theft and corruption have resulted in the creation of circular debt of about Rs400 billion. The oil and sui gas companies have cut off supplies to the power generating units, which in turn has led to unrest and misery for a large segment of the population. We have seen 'gems of wisdom advising the political leadership to raise oil and gas prices to offset the burden that inevitably falls on the shoulders of the government. This is a problem that surely requires a professional approach and a lot of hard work. Certain ad hoc measures taken up by Islamabad have at best provided short-term relief to the people. But as far as long-term solutions are concerned, nothing seems to be even on the drawing board. One wonders at the political and economic sagacity of the PPP leadership, who will have to face the wrath of people not only because of the incumbency factor that will play an important role in the next general elections, but also its failure in addressing the problems the masses are facing. An important factor affecting them remains loadshedding and, therefore, it should naturally come as a priority for the government. But the two commissions set up by the Prime Minister to solve this problem have failed miserably. So, it is time that President Zardari and PM Gilani jointly make a policy within a declared period of time that will substantially resolve the problem of financial burden and with it the menace of loadshedding. Passing on the financial burden to the people is not an appropriate solution. The government must realise that the energy crisis, as well as the virtual collapse of Railways/PIA and mismanagement of billions in other State enterprises are a bigger threat to Pakistan than the threat of terrorism. Instead of trying to appease its coalition partners on one issue after another, it would be prudent on the part of the PPP-led government to formulate policies that break the vicious circle that have enveloped the countrys economy. Also, it should set an example by initiating swift measures that pinpoint the weak links existing in all these blood-sucking public enterprises and hold accountable those who are responsible for mismanagement so that they are taken to task for their misdeeds. Further, it would be in the fitness of things if the government reduces the workforce in the organisations according to actual requirement. It is not going to be an easy task, indeed. However, there is no other option left for the government, except to quickly restructure the public sector and reduce the heavy burden that has retarded Pakistans economic growth for such a long time. More so, it can improve its tax collection procedures, and come hard on those who indulge in electricity and gas thefts. The time has come in which mere lip service will not do; it has become absolutely essential for the regime to take practical steps and show results to the people, if it is to survive in the political arena. However, the question is not only of political survival, but also Pakistans survival because in case the economy collapses, the consequences are going to be catastrophic for the people and the nation. The writer has been associated with various newspapers as editor and columnist. At present, he hosts a political programme on Pakistan Television. Email: zarnatta@hotmail.com