RANDOM THOUGHTS: Best Wishes to the New Government - BY: Dr. A.Q. Khan

Best Wishes to the New Government
Dr. A.Q. Khan


A new government has taken over. The outgoing one tried all the tricks in the bag to stay in power, but the voters could not be fooled this time. The new set-up has quite a few experienced and educated people in it, viz. Asad Omar, Shah Mahmud Qureshi, Dr. Arif Alvi, Dr. Farogh Naseem, Dr. Shirin Mazari, Shafqat Mahmood, Barrister Fawad Chaudhry, A.G. Anwar Mansoor Khan, etc. There is no reason that this team should not be able to deliver as promised. However, the leader must lead from the front, taking bold decisions and always keeping national interests and pride in view. Compromise with foreign countries will surely lead to becoming a disgraced ruler like the ones that went before.

Those surrounding the PM must be giving him a lot of advice Ė much more than he needs. Some of it will definitely be based on personal motivations. The PM and his advisors should always keep in mind that no action taken should cause inconvenience and/or problems for the masses. The previous government was made up of sycophants, corrupt and incompetent people, many of them first having belonged to Gen. Musharrafís clique. We all now know what the result of that was. The PM will have to be extra careful not to fall into the same trap and to take decisions and make judgements on the whims of cronies.

In my previous column I mentioned some reservations about the priorities that the new government has set. Here are some more: Austerity by making PM and Ministers fly business class will cause all sorts of troubles, inconvenience and harassment to other passengers and will likely also lead to cancellation of already reserved seats. Furthermore, the PM and his colleagues will not be able to discuss anything confidential during the flight. Mr. Bhutto had a Falcon jet with hardly 20 seats for foreign travel. He usually took no more than 10 relevant people with him. It was Gen. Zia who started taking an Airbus and 747 with hundreds of people. Nawaz Sharif went one step further and started using an Airbus and 777. The PPP also had a big piece of the cake.

There is also a problem about not using PM House. It is a status symbol of the country. If not used, the furniture and fixtures will deteriorate and become unusable. Nawaz Sharif had forcefully taken Anwar Zahidís house, made a mess of it and then moved to PM House after a few months. Also, it is not suitable for turning into a university. That requires a purpose-built structure. This building will be turned into a mess by students within weeks, not months.

President House, Prime Minister House, Chief Minister Houses and Governor Houses are state-owned properties and one cannot simply convert them for use for other purposes. The houses of Commissioners, DCís, ACís and police officers are usually very large. Those officers can be given 2 or 3 kanal residences and the larger properties auctioned and sold. This would bring in large sums of money in no time.

Many schools, colleges, hospitals and district health units are in bad shape, not to talk of the many ghost schools that exist. The Chief Ministers should order Commissioners of districts to rehabilitate these institutions and turn them into good condition (boundary walls, bathrooms, electric power, furniture, etc.) within 3 months. Regular inspection should then be carried out. This can be done with the money saved from the discretionary development funds previously given to MNAís and PAMís. These measures will give immediate relief to the common man and will earn a lot of goodwill.

This country needs a top-class university along the lines of the GIK Institute in Topi which I was instrumental in having set up and which was an institution par excellence at the time. What a shame that there have been many people in the past who spent billions of rupees but could not produce a single university which could find a place within the first 500 world ranking! We are at the top for corruption, cheating and lying and have a high standing in performing Hajj and donating to charity, but nepotism, favourtism and wrong policies have destroyed our education system.

Another important task is to control and store rain/flood water. There are quite a few water experts in the country who could help and good planning is called for, not some haphazardly carried out projects.

Unemployment and inflation are a cancer in this country. Solutions are needed on a war footing. Such major issues cannot be changed within a few months, but a single step in the right direction can help a lot.

One thing we should all beware of; we should not expect miracles from any government that inherits the many problems that our country faces. We should give them a chance and the Opposition should not start criticizing everything from day one without coming up with some constructive suggestions of their own. On the other hand, the government should not make wild promises, thereby raising hopes which cannot be realized.

My very best wishes go to the new government and the PM and his team. May they succeed in their dream and lead the country out of the quagmire. Allah hamio nasir ho.

Posted on Sep 03, 18 | 5:28 am