I think this government is a quasi form of the national government, about which I have already written in great detail. It has apparently been tasked to straighten up the economy, and not worry about the negative political fallout. Right now, we can see that Shahbaz Sharif is maintaining a steady no-nonsense attitude and has avoided any firebrand sloganeering. His recent decisions regarding import restrictions as well as a 60-rupee fuel price adjustment and the proposed electricity tariff adjustment are all indicative of the resolve to take tough steps; endure the discomfort of belt-tightening, and swallow the bitter pill of corrective cutbacks. Let’s hope that the initial steps taken by Shahbaz Sharif are not just halting steps but ones that lead to a sustained pace of additional balancing of books. Shahbaz may have had some health issues but despite his personal ailments, he must be ready and prepared for a marathon of macroeconomic reforms on a national level. For this, he apparently has the backing of the relevant “physiotherapists.” There will be enough time for politics once things get back on track and the nation has moved forward successfully. Hence, a shut-up call was probably given to IK, which compelled him to call off the D-chowk dharma. This was the wrong time for political grandstanding. The nation was cleverly blindsided by the surreptitious sell-out of the country’s financial independence, by an artful campaign of social media spin doctors. Timing is of paramount importance in politics and IK seems to have mistimed both his Moscow trip as well as the recent Islamabad march. He will have to pay a heavy price politically for such errors of judgment and the resultant U-turns. The establishment has finally realised that if the economy sinks, they will be the biggest loser. So, it appears that their advisers, while doing some of the backseat driving, are at the same time maintaining a political face by backing this national government type setup. If the effort to take the country out of a self-created economic quagmire is sincere and steadfast, there is no reason why it shouldn’t succeed. Except for the notion that often, we tend to be our own best enemy. The timing for putting the squeeze on Pakistan couldn’t be better, and true to form, the Masters of the World have started applying tactical pressure on our fragile economic armour. This was an inevitable outcome; once the decision was taken a few years ago to unbridle the rupee as a free-float currency, and then to cap it all, hand over control of the SBP to the Masters’ staple weapon-of-war, the IMF. To put it briefly, the nation was cleverly blindsided by the surreptitious sell-out of the country’s financial independence, by an artful campaign of social media spin doctors who sloganeered all the while about some undefined utopian Camelot called Riyast-e-Medina. However, if there is some respite to be derived for those shell-shocked zombies, who may have woken up from their stupor, it lies in the hope that Masters of the World might realise the futility of trying to extract too much by flogging an almost dead horse. And there seems to be some consolation in the fact, that Pakistan is not alone when it comes to the chokehold of the Masters. Their strongest straitjacket is clad over the US and its befooled citizenry. Whereas Pakistanis may have to tighten their belt and combat some degree of adversity, the hapless Govt of America must often stare in the face of a total shutdown of its functioning. Imagine all of the Pakistani bureaucracy being told to pack up and go home! Sometimes, economic slavery might bring unforeseen benefits too. The writer is former special assistant to late prime minister Benazir Bhutto.