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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Misuse and mismanagement of State resources

The phenomenal decline of our state and the failure of its institutions to cater to the demands of the people and protect their rights is mainly due to the lack of transparency, the mismanagement and misuse of state resources. After 70 years of its birth, Pakistan failed to produce better managers to consolidate its freedom and run the affairs of the state smoothly, without any personal motives.

I was always impressed by the austerity of our parents’ generation in general. Resources of the state, in particular, were handled even more prudently. Official cars were used only for pick and drop to the office. Abdur Rab Nishtar as governor kept a log of his personal calls to be covered out of his own pocket. A federal minister from East Pakistan resigned when the audit revealed that private use of the telephone was paid by his office. Even stationary items were carefully handled.

Recently in a TV talk show, the topic of taxation was discussed. It was revealed that in an Islamic State the collected taxes have to be managed as ‘Orphan’s Allowance’ for purposes of audit and expenditure. Revenue collected belongs to the weaker segments of society, it is not to support the perks and lifestyle of government functionaries. No wonder the founding generation of Pakistan judicially protected what was not meant for their luxury and comfort. They considered themselves as only accountable custodians of the money collected to be spent on the orphans and weaker segments of the society. Duty and service to the people took precedence over rights and privileges. There were hardly any gaps between the ruler and the ruled.

Pakistanis are one of the highest charity giving and lowest tax paying nations of the world. It clearly indicates lack of faith in the state as it invariably misspends the ‘Orphan”s Allowance”. Edhi Foundation is one of the largest charitable organization in the world. Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital is opening its third branch in Karachi after Lahore and Peshawar through donations, yet tax collection remains poor.

As the firstborn free generation of Pakistan, we have witnessed the phenomenal decline of our own state and its institutions. What started off well declined within one generation

I during my term as Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation was required to visit research institutions all over the country. During one of the road journeys, we lost the sunshade of the official transport. On inquiry the driver informed me that perhaps it got dropped at Bhera, in the same breath he said that he would get a new set on arrival. His casual attitude was annoying. I asked him a simple question, ‘Why should the government bear this expense”. ‘What else can we do” was his response. I told him that on our journey back we would check at the Bhera stop to reclaim the shade or we would split the cost of the new one. Luckily the cleaning staff had saved our lost merchandise and we were both spared of the expense. Though it was an inexpensive item but the message was far-reaching. I am glad I did not have to dig into ‘Orphan’s Allowance’ for the shade.

A few months back I had the chore of visiting a government office. The office door was locked from inside. We were told that the officer was attending to some personal matter, after about half an hour the door was unbolted. While we the orphans watched, the officer walked away boarding his official car to attend to some other business. On inquiry, we came to know that he had to visit the hospital to see an ailing relative.

As the firstborn free generation of Pakistan, we have witnessed the phenomenal decline of our own state and its institutions. What started off well declined within one generation. Our educational institutions failed to produce the change managers required to consolidate our freedom. The university that produced the manpower to not only win freedom but also run the nascent state was left behind in Aligarh.

Read more: A Reform Agenda for State-Owned Enterprises in Pakistan

Once the founding fathers of the country were sidelined the nation became orphan. There was no one left in the corridors of power to watch their interests or protect their allowances. A state apparatus that can neither collect taxes nor spend it properly has to be dismantled. Orphans should not be unnecessarily burdened, if they cannot be helped then they should not be squeezed either.

Accountant General Pakistan Revenue (AGPR) is a constitutional post. Every penny that the state collects and then spends is audited by this department. After the breakup of Quaid’s Pakistan, the Nuclear programme was excluded from audit to facilitate expeditious development. After nuclear detonation in May 1998, this exclusion needs to be revisited. Forty-seven years (1972 – 2019) the nation has supported the programme with no questions asked, now it is time to review this approach for better utilization of resources.

We the orphan citizens of state demand strict audit and scrutiny of our allowances. Those who consume and misuse our resources have to be made accountable. Transparency has to introduced at all levels. Pakistan was not created for the privileged elite nor to support the colonial state apparatus. Consumption must be justified against the service provided to the people which is nonexistent in our situation.

Read more: Naya Pakistan’s mixed economic policy signals? – Dr. Omer Javed

In an Islamic State, the rights of the orphans have to be protected. The 1973 constitution clearly states that all laws will be formulated in accordance with Islamic guidelines. The Council of Islamic Ideology should issue instructions for AGPR to follow to ensure the protection of rights of the orphans. In the decade of fifties, such research was carried out at the Institute of Islamic Culture Lahore under the leadership of famous scholar and philosopher Dr. Khalifa Abdul Hakim. The family Laws Ordinance was also formulated there which is still in vogue. In the 20th year of the 21st century, the orphans of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan demand protection of their allowances. Those who consume their resources have to be made accountable. The suffering of the orphans have to addressed by the state to avoid the wrath of the creator, there are serious warnings about it in the holy book. All allowances of the orphans have to spent on them as they constitute the most deserving segments of the society. No nation can prosper while ignoring the weaker segments of society.

Dr Farid A. Malik is Ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation. The article was first published in The Daily Times and has been republished here with the author’s permission. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.