During the last few days the Pakistani media carried several stories which could be described both absurd and tragic. After eight months, President Zardari broke the ice and had a marathon meeting lasting four hours with Nawaz Sharif at his Raiwind residence. As usual there were hopes and speculations that some landmark decisions will be taken in this meeting in order to fully revive the 1973 constitution. However, the joint communiqu only said that the talks would continue (God help us) on the restoration of 1973 constitution and withdrawal of 17th amendment. Therefore, the main emphasis was on further continuation of talks, rather than an agreement on any substantive issues. What a waste of time The second high and mighty story, which emerged in the media was after the landmark meeting between the prime ministers of Pakistan and India on the sidelines of the NAM conference at Sharm El-Sheikh. The joint declaration, however, was a standard non-news full of clichs such as: "The two prime ministers had a cordial and constructive meeting. They considered the entire gamut of bilateral relations with a view to charting the way forward in India-Pakistan relations....Both leaders agreed that terrorism is the main threat to both countries...affirmed their resolve to fight terrorism and to cooperate with each other to this end. Prime Minister Singh reiterated the need to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to justice. Prime Minister Gilani assured that Pakistan will do everything in its power in this regard. He said that Pakistan has provided an updated status dossier on the investigations of the Mumbai attacks and had sought additional information; so on and so forth." Such entertaining statements that in fact had no news in it is masterpiece of beguiling diplomacy. Once again, what a waste of time The real story in the declaration was the absence of the so-called core issue of Kashmir, which was not even mentioned. The people of Pakistan will never forgive the Pakistani PM for signing a declaration with the PM of India, without even a mention of the word "Kashmir" for which Pakistan has been fighting for the past 62 years. Adding insult to injury, PM Manmohan Singh, made it clear soon after the signing of the joint declaration that the composite dialogue with Pakistan cannot be resumed unless and until the terrorists who blasted Mumbai are properly accounted for and brought to justice. What a waste of time Back home the Pakistani government and the World Bank agreed on what the Finance Ministry officials called an "inevitable" 13.5 percent increase in power tariff during the current financial year. The agreement was reached at the end of the three-day talks. What a wonderful decision The World Bank and the government are raising tariff on a non-existent commodity without realising that daily thousands of people are protesting against blackouts due to that are making their lives miserable. This cruel decision to raise electricity tariff will certainly add fuel to the fire. By the way, where is the federal minister for power these days? People miss him a lot Furthermore, the advisor on petroleum has given the 'good news' that the price of POL would be reduced in August Because the government had fixed margins of oil marketing companies (OMCs) which had made huge profits in the past. May one ask why the government raised POL prices in July in the first place in violation of the Supreme Court's decision and why they were not reduced in the month of July? Was it because the government wanted to give the poor OMCs a last chance to earn as much profit as they could? The advisor also stated that the crisis of oil and gas may further escalate if the government did not take immediate measures to increase their production. As a final word. It s is well known that the Local Bodies are the first step to democracy, but our democratic government is considering cancelling the Local Bodies elections to replace the elected representatives with bureaucrats and police officers. Reason being the bad law and order situation. Easy excuse for all shady moves What a waste of time The writer is a former director news, PTV E-mail: burhanhasan@hotmail.com