Islamabad: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's Independence Day speech 'lacked substance' and it betrayed 'a scandalous apathy' to the problems Pakistan faces, said a Pakistani daily. The News International said in an editorial on Tuesday that Independence Day, celebrated two days ago, 'this year was a day of irony'.

'The country's economic crises intensified and widened this year; the government failed to get key financial legislation passed, especially with regard to tax reforms - a prerequisite for receiving IMF funds; terrorism remained alive and well and manifested itself in a range of deadly attacks across the length and breadth of the country...'

'And yet, when Gilani appeared before the country on Sunday to deliver his speech on the occasion of Pakistan's 64th Independence Day, the only truth we learnt was that none of the statesmanship Pakistan so desperately needs from its leaders was going to be on show that evening.'

Criticising Gilani, the editorial said he 'did not honestly acknowledge the above failures; he did not press his government to do better. Instead, he delivered a speech that lacked substance, leapt from one cliche to the next and betrayed, in its effusive praise of the government, a scandalous apathy to the problems this country faces'.

On the energy crisis, it said, 'We don't want empty promises. We want an end to sleepless nights. We want power to enable us to go on with the daily business of our lives and do the basic things that people in other independent countries take for granted.'

It went on to say that despite the fact that the future was 'a very uncertain place in Pakistan, people found reason to celebrate August 14'.

'Heavily burdened by all the problems that the prime minister forgot to mention in his speech, their expectations are limitless. And why not? This is a country that should have had golden prospects. It could have become a cornucopia of wealth.

'But where have we reached instead?' it asked.

'In countries around the world, the road from bondage to freedom has too often been the proverbial road to hell. Independence is an event, but it is also a process, long-drawn out and filled with danger. And 64 years after Pakistan's independence, we are still not firmly out of the danger-zone,' the editorial added.

(Agencies)