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"Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity".
(surah Al-Imran,ayat-104)
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User Name: afzal_zeshan
Full Name: afzal zeshan
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Dear Friend, This article made GEO go off the air in Karachi & Sind since 6.00 AM & still off the air. 

 

 

 

 

Our politicians, our khakis and the corporate sector

In the national interest

Monday, November 17, 2008
Kamal Siddiqi

The writer is editor reporting for The News

Praise be to Syed Khurshid Shah, federal minister and very senior member of the Pakistan People's Party. In these times of recession and economic crisis, Shah has decided to celebrate his son's wedding in style and glamour. A week ago, heavy cranes courtesy of a government department, were brought in to the Defence Housing Authority area and they proceeded to put heavy slabs"”made at government expense on a side plot, so as to create a Stonehenge-like structure for the wedding event. For this a major road of the DHA was closed for almost five days.

For the past week, at least 60 to 70 government cars, equipment and at least one hundred government employees have been deployed at the house to make all the necessary arrangements for the wedding. Power was taken from a kunda connection to light up the rows of lights deployed on the street in front of the house. The roads have been blocked on and off by policemen, when some friends of the minister came calling.

When asked to explain this, Khurshid Shah was unrepentant and very rude. He told a news channel, "It's my own God damn money and nobody can stop me." There was no mention of all the extra help he got at state expense. Asked what example he was setting as a senior minister and a PPP stalwart, Shah said he is a big politician and these things "have to be done by important and influential people."  the bridegroom roams around in his Prado with ten government owned vehicles with ruthless looking guards. Needless to say, the PPP top brass will be in full attendance at the wedding, witnessing all the misuse of government and tax payers hard earned money. None of the PPP ministers or party holder has the courage to point out these things to top leadership of the party.

One cannot only blame Khurshid Shah for this. The example was set by our own irrelevant prime minister, who flew down to Karachi on an official plane at government expense on the day he took office to celebrate his son's birthday in style. Millions were spent on that high-powered event. We the poor Pakistanis were the ones who paid the bills for the lavish life styles of our leaders.

Praise be to Brigadier Khalid Tirmizi, the new administrator of the Defence Housing Authority in Karachi and his loyal head of the Vigilance section, Colonel Rizwan Nizami, who traces his ancestry to Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia. Thanks to the various fees and fines it charges and imposes"”which are the highest amongst the DHAs all over Pakistan, the DHA Karachi has amassed an army of guards whose job it is to check building violations and irregularities. These men, most of them from towns and villages across Pakistan and almost all ex-servicemen, have to justify their existence by coming up with violations"”real or imagined.

They too, however, remained quiet. The closure of a major DHA artery, the digging of the road, the encroachment of a side plot, the unauthorised use of an open plot for a marriage ceremony and the installation of decorative lights on a whole road for one week, are all major violations under DHA bylaws.

The head of a DHA Residents Association says that the Vigilance Section is so strict that it will not allow shopkeepers an extra stair outside their shop. The DHA guards act within hours of a violation being reported. But in this case, there was no action by the DHA for several days.

No DHA official challenged these major violations, or even issued any notice or letter to the minister. They just looked the other way. In the past, the Building Control department and the Vigilance Section had said, on record, that they "do not even spare Generals, let alone common civilians." The present silence is deafening.

Praise be to the management of the Karachi Electric Supply Company, which says that it will arrest, punish and fine people who dare steal electricity. There are strict laws for those who dare steal power and not pay for it. But in this particular case, when the KESC was alerted to the brazen theft of power by the house of Khurshid Shah, the management said it was investigating the case. Six days later, it was still investigating and had sent a KESC van to assist in the event, with "On VIP duty" emblazoned on its side.

We were told that after privatisation, KESC's performance would improve. There would be no political interference. That the massive theft of power would come to an end. The only man who was working to improve the working of KESC was a  well meaning German who did not install  a generator at his house in Karachi when he was entitled to because he wanted to feel the pain of average Pakistanis those who suffered from power outages, was replaced by a General since he refused to indulge in illegal activities. Now it's business as usual. Only in Pakistan are you not only charged a fee for having a name changed on a utility bill but the officer also demands a bribe for doing so. Things seem to have remained the same in fact gone down.

The only silver lining this week seems to be that the government may retain the services of Dr Shamshad Akhtar for yet another term. Despite her repressive attitude towards the media and her oversensitive attitude to criticism, she still is the best choice under the circumstances. With due apologies to a senior banker at the NBP, the problem is not the bank but the fact that it is being ruled by a president-for-life. There are others too who are in the run for the post of governor. But it is hard to choose between them because each is worse than the previous one.

In these trying financial times, the government has been able to get its scapegoat in the form of Khanani and Kalia. They have been accused of a number of economic crimes. One FIA official, who was lax enough to let one of the partners talk to the media for a few minutes at the Lahore airport, has been transferred. But what the press got out of him was enough. The partner said that once he is released, he will be happy to share the information about who sent out how much money and when.

It is unfair of Mr Shaukat Tareen, who one may have hoped had better sense, to harass and intimidate the owners of the most well regarded money exchange companies. If a witch hunt had to be conducted, it should be done all over the country"”after all, the bulk of the hawala money does not come to Karachi, nor does it go from here. Why has the investigation been limited to one or two companies of Karachi?

News that the NAB has become involved in the investigation does not bode well. This only means that those arrested will be let off after the pockets of some NAB officials and other important personalities are lined. This is known as plea-bargaining. This has happened several times in the past. If any investigation has to be conducted, why not of the NAB and its officers? One needs to investigate the officers' assets and wealth at the time they joined the NAB and when they left.

Why is it that the government suddenly pounced on Khanani and Kalia. And to put the record straight, it is not money laundering but illegal money transfers that are the issue. Money laundering is an industry in itself in Pakistan and the money changers play only a little part in it.

But the premise that the moneychangers caused the scare that led to billions of dollars to leave the country, causing Pakistan to enter a financial crisis, is faulted. There are other players too. Why are we not arresting them as well? Who allowed the import of luxury items and who liberalised our import regime to such an extent that local industry suffered and forex was drained? And while we are at it, Mr Tareen should also take to task the hundreds of Customs officials who allowed rampant smuggling at great cost to our exchequer and our local industry. That also resulted in our foreign exchange losses. Everybody knows how much money customs and income tax officials make.

It is very easy to nab businessmen because we know they will bend. But who will go after the big fish? In all this, the media continues to get the bad name. Our colleagues have been threatened after exposing the land scam under which General Musharraf doled out huge army land to Maulana Fazlur Rehman. In these turbulent times, it is better to stay quiet than to speak. Better attend Khurshid Shah's son wedding instead.

Email: kamal.siddiqi@thenews.com.pk

 Reply:   Nice Attempt to awake those who dont wanna awake!
Replied by(baba23) Replied on (22/Nov/2008)

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