.. by Naeem Sadiq
HAD there not been loot and plunder by blood-sucking, progress-blocking elite, Pakistan, too, could have been a hugely rich, progressive and a modern state by now, or maybe long ago. We do not have paucity of natural resources and manpower to turn the fortunes of the country. In fact, we, the people, have been forced to carry a heavy burden of the follies of our leaders.
It is time to put down this burden. It is time to reassemble our broken dreams and our shattered hopes. We, too, can be a fair, tolerant and progressive society, provided we are willing to shut down the self-granted illegitimate entitlements of our plundering classes. It is not us, the people, but the ruling elite that is the symbol of the rot, if not the rot itself. The elite come to power to serve their own cabal, not the people.
There is no country in the world that has provided 200,000 government vehicles to its officials. Why does Pakistan indulge in this unethical and financially disastrous venture? Simply withdrawing and selling all federal and provincial government vehicles could recover up to Rs600 billion.
There is no nation that gives between 100 to 600 litres of free fuel every month to each senior bureaucrat. Simply stopping all free fuel entitlement to all government officials would annually save Rs216 billion for Pakistan, an amount that far exceeds the Rs140 billion annual budget of India’s space programme.
There is no nation that takes World Bank loans to contract out its daily street sweeping to foreign companies. Pakistan is the only example of this rare and monumental madness. We pay Rs7.3 billion per year to Chinese companies to sweep Karachi’s garbage.
What is more ironical is that the actual sweeping is performed by 10,000 or so helpless, exploited Pakistanis who are paid illegal and cruel wages of Rs15,000 per month. How come the Pakistani intellectuals and the human rights activists choose to remain silent on this cruellest form of modern-day slavery?
There is no country in the world except Pakistan that provides free electricity worth Rs13 billion to employees of its power sector and to officials working in grade 17 and above. And, yet, the caretaker government has refused to provide relief to the common person.
For Pakistan, the only option is to close down half of its ministries, most of its commissions, and demolish all perks and entitlements of all government officials and politicians. Let the savings go to provide legal minimum wages as well as pensions and social security under the umbrella of Employees’ Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) to every citizen of Pakistan. .. Naeem Sadiq, Dawn, 3 September 2023