Dear Bilawal (Zardari), please read a newspaper so you know what Sindh is going through
By Shakir Lakhani Published: July 26, 2016

Bilawal Bhutto speaks during a memorial service for the Governor of Punjab Salman Taseer, at the Pakistan High Commission in London January 10, 2011. PHOTO: REUTERS

Dear Mr Bilawal Bhutto Zardari,
It has been reported that you are behind the move to remove some ministers in the Sindh cabinet and appoint new ones. Of course, this is nothing new, all over the world ministers are sacked and replaced if they do not perform satisfactorily. Usually what happens is that new and competent people are chosen to run the government.

With all due respect, I, for one, feel that nothing will change by sacking some ministers and replacing them with others. The people of Sindh will continue to suffer due to the absolute lack of governance in the province.

One reason for this is that practically all your ministers are from feudal backgrounds. They have no knowledge of the problems faced by the masses. I doubt if you and your ministers read newspapers. If you did, you would know that the streets of the cities and towns of Sindh are filled with garbage, which is dumped there and not removed for months, badly affecting the health of the people.
You don’t believe what I say? Please take a 10 minute walk towards the sea from Bilawal House, Karachi and see for yourself the huge piles of garbage near the sea shore.
You would read that the common man does not get clean water to drink.
You would learn about the deaths of children in Thar because most of the hospitals in the province have no nurses or doctors or even essential medicines.

You would learn about the plight of our Sindhi sugarcane farmers at the hand of your party members.

You and your cronies, if you make it a habit of reading newspapers, would understand what the common people have to go through when they have to deal with policemen, who have been hired, not on the basis of merit, but because they have connections with those who work for your ministers, or because they have paid good money to get appointed and posted in the cities of the province, where they indulge in extortion and looting the people. With Rs 70 billion being spent every year on improving the police department, the people have a right to expect improvement in the law and order situation, but instead, they are robbed with impunity, often by the police themselves.

In the newspapers you will also read that there is gross corruption and mismanagement in Sindh. Of course, you and your ministers would react and say that it is a conspiracy to defame your government – that everything is hunky dory and the people of Sindh are very satisfied with the way the province is being run. But if you want to know the difference between Sindh and Punjab, please drive a few kilometres into Punjab from its border with Sindh. You will see that the quality of roads in Punjab is of international standards, while the roads of Sindh are full of so many potholes that they cannot be called roads.
Do you need more evidence of mis-governance and corruption?
The schools of the province are empty and useless, except for the “ghost” teachers and employees who turn up regularly on pay day every month to collect wages, wages that they don’t deserve. Wouldn’t that make you wonder what happens to the education budget (Rs 150 billion) every year?
I doubt it.
And do you know what needs to be done if you want your party to become popular again?
Not much.
Just do what the government in Punjab does: make sure that the budget money is not pocketed by vested interests, but spent on the masses.
Do what Imran Khan has just announced: instead of giving the province’s funds to ministers and assembly members, give the money to the local bodies, which are in direct contact with the masses. That way, most of the money will be spent on the welfare of the people and not looted or siphoned away into private bank accounts. Appoint people (especially the police) only on the basis of merit, and not those who are recommended by your ministers or advisers.
I may be wrong, but I don’t think you will do it (or will be allowed to do it).
So, no, Mr BBZ, sacking and replacing ministers is not going to change anything!

Shakir Lakhani

Engineer, teacher, industrialist, associated with petroleum/chemical industries for many years. Loves writing, and (in the opinion of most of those who know him), mentally unbalanced. He tweets @shakirlakhani (


Bad amnesty


As expected, the government is being pressurized to withdraw proposals to recover looted tax money by property speculators and such like-minded people. A firm of chartered accountants has recommended that a ‘one time amnesty scheme’ be announced for those who have deprived the nation of sorely-needed revenue by paying much lower taxes on property transactions by grossly declaring lower property values. Over the past 60 years, we have seen many such amnesty schemes, but the result is that the nation has grown poorer while those who whiten their black money go on getting richer. They know that they will never be punished so they go on cheating, expecting a tax amnesty every two years to whitewash their crimes.
Tax amnesties have always failed in the past, so why are the experts again advising the government to avoid punishing the criminals? Things have become so bad that honest taxpayers are regretting why they have always paid tax on their incomes. Should all honest taxpayers migrate to other countries so they don’t have to live among thieves and criminals? Or should they simply kill themselves, their wives and their children? Instead of a two or three percent recovery on evaded taxes, the government should get tough and recover thirty percent as per the existing law. For the present, it can waive the other punishments, like a thirty percent penalty and two years imprisonment. But it should not buckle under pressure. Let’s not forget, Pakistan is fighting a war for its very survival and needs every rupee to win this war. A tax amnesty will only embolden the racketeers, who think it is their right to break laws to enrich themselves.
Shakir Lakhani
Printed in The News, July 16, 2016