RANDOM THOUGHTS: Tread Carefully - BY: Dr. A.Q. Khan

Tread Carefully
Dr. A.Q. Khan


Politics are very hot these days with accusations and the blame game at a peak. This poor country has never seen a quiet, peaceful acceptance of transfer of power. No sooner have elections been held and the results announced, then the losers start shouting about rigging and unfairness. This time round the army had been posted everywhere, but that was apparently not enough to stop accusations of rigging, etc. Our politicians always offer sweets, but a bitter pill follows for the next 5 years. The PTI made many promises. People were fed up with the PML (N) and they wanted a change (hopefully, for the better). They no longer had confidence in the PML (N) politicians, but most people didn’t expect quite such a thumping rejection. It happened and they were more than happy to swallow what Imran Khan and his colleagues promised. As a matter of fact, many of their expectations were unrealistic and they expected miracles overnight. After hardly a month we are already hearing that many people are having second thoughts about the performance of the Prime Minister and his team. Jokes are even being made about them in TV shows by sarcastically saying that selling 5 buffalos and some luxury cars are going to solve all our financial problems.

People are talking about the Prime Minister’s team members and dissecting their backgrounds and suitability for the jobs they have been entrusted with. Even the honorable Chief Justice of Pakistan has commented on the negative activities of the PTI stalwarts. It has also been pointed out that many of the cabinet members are people from the Musharraf team. That is politics for you – you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. The Prime Minister should realize the importance of qualifications and examine these closely before allocating portfolios. We have seen some significant blunders in the past, i.e. a mechanical engineer being given the responsibility of the health care of 100 million people! It was a very bad decision – a blatant example of naked favouritism and nepotism. We have hundreds of highly qualified, foreign-trained, experienced medical specialists in the country, but they were all ignored in favour of a most unsuitable person. Blind loyalty rather than ability seemed to be the benchmark, which has led to the shambles the country is in now.

The nominations of various ministers and officials in the new government are currently being scrutinized and justifiably so. The Law Minister, Foreign Minister, Attorney General, Environment Minister, Finance Minister, Railways Minister, Human Rights Minister, Information Minister, etc. are all well-educated and experienced. One could say, however, that the Information Minister needs to cool down a bit and concentrate on his own work rather than continuous criticism of the opposition. People have already made known their wishes by voting out the old government. However, many people were surprised that Mr. Riaz, a politician, was appointed as Secretary Petroleum. This is a cadre job and some competent, experienced civil servant should have been appointed. Mr. Riaz could have been accommodated as Head of Baitul Mal or Evacuee Property Board. Some other appointees are also questionable. The Prime Minister would do well to thoroughly check the background, education and experience of nominees before their appointment and not only the fact whether or not they have a seat in the National Assembly or Provincial Assembly. For instance, the Health Ministry is an extremely important and sensitive one and should be given to a well-educated, experienced, well-known medical specialist. The same goes for the Education Ministry and that of Science and Technology. Unfortunately, that is not what is always happening. The Prime Minister is picking up some people from Musharraf’s regime and this is not going down well with the public. Even the judiciary has remarked upon it.

Inflation and the cost of living are rising at a fast pace and people are already feeling the pinch. It is a major issue that needs strict control. As mentioned earlier, two other issues need instant attention and will win a lot of goodwill – education and health care. The conditions of schools must be improved; i.e. boundary walls erected, toilets installed, clean drinking water made available, curricula updated and ghost schools taken care of. District health units and hospitals need to be extended and the availability of a sufficient number of doctors, nurses and facilities ensured.

The Prime Minister has promised to provide housing, an impossible task to complete in the time at his disposal. Pre-fabricated, small houses would go a long way in solving this problem. These are cheap, easily erected within a few weeks and don’t require much water, cement and steel. These are available locally from a factory in Karachi (Fabricon) owned by Mr. Syed Javed Nasir (0345-2381359). A (retired) army engineer (for example, my former colleague, a smart, efficient officer, Brig. Saeed Baig) could be given the job. A consortium of 3 or 4 companies would speed up the task and build up the government’s reputation for achieving results.

The country needs jobs for our youth. The government needs to help industrialists set up more factories, but for that incentives need to be given. Good training facilities for the youth to supply skilled workers, is also the need of the day. Also needed is a top-class Federal Institute of Science and Technology set up along the lines of the GIK Institute. Existing government institutions have not been able to deliver well-qualified, practical-oriented graduates who are able to solve occurring problems with hard work and dedication.

These are some of the needs of the moment. Unfortunately, there are many more.

Note: It looks like the GIK Institute, nuclear weapons, sophisticated missiles and other weapons and extremely sophisticated instruments were made by divine inhabitants in our country so that we now feel the need to have a Turkish company set up a Skill Development Institute. Shame on us!

Posted on Oct 08, 18 | 4:08 pm