Mr Prime Minister. Please forgive me if I sound impertinent. We have not had the pleasure of meeting because I feel it is a futile exercise meeting people who don’t mean what they say. Your talks on the media are also pointless. Nobody now gives much weight to what is said by those in power.
You are surrounded by sycophants, as well as people of ill-repute and of questionable motives. Much of what you do in office is irrelevant.
But my plea to you is that if you cannot do any good, at least try and minimise the harm. Your call to arms for Friday — possibly yours is one of the few governments that asks people to cut their nose to spite their face — left at least 26 people dead in the senseless violence that followed. Did you not realise that given the build-up of the days before, such a move might actually backfire? Some people say that you did this deliberately. I don’t think so.
Now, let me tell you something your sycophants won’t tell you. It doesn’t matter to me or most Pakistanis whether you stay as prime minister or not. In fact, with the passage of time, how much the government matters to most of us will become more and more inconsequential. Your cat and mouse games with the judiciary do not help the average Pakistani in any way. It makes things worse for us.
With foreign investment dwindling and economic activity in a slump, jobs are scarce. Your government’s answer to this is to create employment in the public sector as against making economic conditions better so that jobs are created in the private sector. Your party’s left of centre credentials possibly make you think that this is the way to go. But by stuffing party faithful and many others who are faithless, you are actually bringing down some of the institutions that have held us in good stead in the past. Like PIA and the Pakistan Railways. If you continue on your path, these national entities will collapse. The resignation of the PIA chief is a wake-up call for you.
He will not head a sinking ship.
If that’s not all, your government has the distinction of creating white elephants so that more of the faithless are rewarded. Take the Sindh Bank where the prime purpose is to give jobs, not do banking. At the rate the bank is hiring staff, very soon it will have more staff than possibly the largest private bank in the country and the business generated may compare with the smallest private bank in operation.
You are well within your power to ask me what gives me the right to say all this. Well, I won’t say that being a member of the Fourth Estate, I can question the executive. Also, I will not say that as a voter, I have a right to ask this of the government that I may have helped put in power. But I will say that I pay more income tax than you and possibly many of your cabinet members put together. And every day, my heart bleeds when I see my money being wasted by you and your government at the altar of political expediency.
You have disappointed me on many counts. As an awami prime minister, one would have expected you to stand with the people. Instead, you were so scared of the people that you actually used a helicopter to survey the damage caused in a factory in Karachi — the worst fire across the world at a factory in a decade. Your chief minister in Sindh was quick to announce compensation from the public kitty. I would have wanted the government to seize the assets of the billionaire owner of the factory, auction them within a month and divide the money amongst the victims. You are quick to take into custody 12-year-old Rimsha Masih. But not those who run faulty factories or airlines that kill hundreds.
Your government continues to concede ground to the extremists and the militants. I thought the whole purpose of democracy would be to bring a party to power that would have the mandate to set things right.
Please sir. See the light. Do something right.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2012.