Came the dawn
VIEW: Came the dawn —Kamran Shafi
WAPDA decides that it will carry out Annual Maintenance one day, and it is jolly well carried out the next. Never mind that people are inconvenienced; never mind that a patient dependant on electricity for his very survival lies fighting for every breath, never mind that a very junior official can be so rude with a consumer
So then, it has finally dawned upon the Big General that he is being ill-served by the people he himself has ordained into their offices; those who serve at his personal will and only because he is what he is; those who wouldn’t stand a chance in hell of being ‘elected’ to their mighty offices were it not for the State flexing its muscle through its various agencies, and at his express orders. Those, indeed, who know full well that after this one outing on the carousel of power they will not be heard from nor seen in the country, taking the first plane out to their real homes and hearths.
According to a report in this same newspaper: “President Pervez Musharraf has voiced growing frustration at his government’s ‘lethargic functioning’ and poor implementation of development projects. ‘I go to people and announce projects but the next time I visit these areas and ask the people about the projects, I find that there is nothing on the ground,’ sources quoted him as saying at a meeting attended by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, several ministers and the State Bank of Pakistan governor.”
“Sources said the president took notice of delay in the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project. ‘How many delegations will visit abroad for talks to finalise this project?’ the president was quoted as asking the participants. The president also expressed concern over the government’s inability to control inflation.”
Well, to non-compliance with his specific orders first, and may I suggest to the Big General that the “projects” he speaks about (which he knows have not been carried out) are only the tip of the iceberg. Surely he has not visited all the communities and places and people where he might have issued orders; surely what he has been told is a fraction of what has actually not been done. I will make him a wager of a hundred rupees: If he delves only a little deeper, the Big General will find that only those of his orders that concerned people who have access to him have been implemented; that he should consider himself fortunate if 10 percent of his directives, orders, and instructions have actually been followed.
There is a revealing little anecdote that Kaleem Omar, yes the well-known writer, tells about Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. It so happened that three years into his presidency/prime ministership, that consummate politician and workaholic who used to read voluminous files from cover to cover and hand-write the most succinct and beautifully crafted notes within minutes, ordered a short exercise. He just wanted to know how many of his directives the officials of the Government of Pakistan had carried out. One can only imagine his chagrin when it was put up to him that (if memory serves) 55 percent of the directives were nowhere to be seen; 25 percent were in the process of completion and only 20 percent had been completed/carried out.
This is Zulfikar Ali Bhutto we are talking about, sirs, not some Tom, Dick, or Harry. Remember that this man we speak about was so particular about what he wrote on official files that one that he was working on while travelling by train had the following remark at the end of his note: “My handwriting is shaky because I am travelling by the Khyber Mail — we have just crossed Jhelum”! Sirs, you are to kindly note that if the orders of this immaculate man were followed the way they were, what of those given by others?
The question one must ask, indeed one that the Big General must ask himself, is why it has taken this long for the realisation to hit home that all is certainly not well (nor has been for a long time) with the way the Government of the Islamic Republic conducts itself. For, the national press has long been full of stories about how wrong things are going; how, instead of “good governance” things were only going from bad to worse; how, indeed, the Big General was getting a bad name for the shenanigans of his own appointees. One can only come to one conclusion.
If only General Musharraf took a little time out every day to just glance through the papers to see for himself what they were saying instead of only depending on what was ‘put up’ to him by the Ministry of Disinformation; if only he wasn’t so black and white about perceived friends and perceived enemies (calling people who do not agree with him ‘unbalanced’, even ‘traitors’, for example), he would have found that lots of people have been crying themselves hoarse about precisely the things that agitate him today.
It is never too late, however, to change tack; never too late to kick the right bottom with the right amount of force and never too late to get rid of those who will not pull their weight. Provided of course that cognisance is taken of the offences of commission and omission, fairly and judiciously. The pity of the whole thing, however, is that through the many years that the Big General has had his way in the Land of the Pure, the thing called “justice in governance” has been chucked out the window and “pragmatism” rules.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my electricity was switched off just as I was putting the finishing touches to my article some days ago. I called the SDO, WAPDA, Hasanabdal, on his mobile to ask when we could expect it to be switched on again. The conversation went something like this:
Self: “Assalam-o-Alaikum, aap SDO Sahib bol rahe hein?”
SDO Bahadur: “Bol raha hoon”.
Self: “Ji, mein Wah gaon se Major Kamran Shafi bol raha hoon — bijli ko kya hua hai — kab aaye gee”.
SDOB: “Annual maintenance jab khatam ho gi”.Self: “ANNUAL MAINTENANCE”? Aap ne annual maintenance kaheen announce ki thi?”SDOB: “Kal FM 97 (the local Hasanabdal station) pe ki thi.”
Self: “Kal? Annual Maintenance ka to ziada notice hona chahie; aap ne kissi akhbar mein announce ki thi?”SDOB: “Nahein, saray log FM suntay hein.” (I don’t, by the way.)
Self, in English: “SDO Sahib, I want to write about this in the press; please reconfirm that this was ANNUAL MAINTENANCE for which you gave just one day’s notice and that too on just one media outlet which many people may not have access to.”
SDOB: “I am not your servant that I should repeat what I said — you can write what you want”, saying which the Little Sahib switched off his telephone.
So there you have it, sirs, good governance everywhere. WAPDA decides that it will carry out Annual Maintenance one day, and it is jolly well carried out the next. Never mind that people are inconvenienced; never mind that a patient dependant on electricity for his very survival lies fighting for every breath, never mind that a very junior official can be so rude with a consumer — a consumer who pays through his nose for most pathetic service, mind. Sab Acchha Hai, Sahib.
Bushism of the Week: “The only thing I know about Slovakia is what I learned firsthand from your foreign minister, who came to Texas” — President George W Bush talking to a Slovak journalist, June 22, 1999. Bush’s meeting was with Janez Drnovsek, the prime minister of Slovenia.
PS: WAPDA can rest easy — just as the Motorway Police did not respond to my complaint about them, I do not expect WAPDA to, either. After all, they rule; we are the ruled.