Where does the buck stop?

Shakir Lakhani

NOVEMBER 1, 2020

If you ask anyone on the streets whether the PTI government has made life easier for the common man, the answer is always in the negative. From massive unemployment to high inflation, this government seems to have done its best to make our lives miserable. And almost invariably, our ministers blame the previous regime for its failures, although it has completed almost half its allotted term.

Take the Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chouhan. He is the same dude who once made extremely derogatory remarks about Hindus (perhaps because he has never come across them in his home province), which led to him being temporarily removed. He was then involved in a scandal trying to get ten more marks for his son in an exam. Maybe he thought this was his contribution to improving the system of education in the country. No action, however, was taken against him, and he has continued in his job as minister for (dis)information. But he stunned everyone by saying something more astounding recently. When asked how long his government will continue blaming the previous one for its failures, he said it would do so as long as this government lasts; even if it wins the next election and doesn’t succeed, PTI will blame the previous government for all its failures. I wonder how such a man got into the PTI.

Perhaps readers will remember the astounding predictions of the very able Faisal Vawda, the minister in charge of ensuring water supply to the helpless citizens of this benighted country. He’s the chap who once prophesied that thousands of foreigners would soon line up outside our embassies to get jobs in Pakistan. He used to drive his highly expensive motorcycles up Zamzama Road in Karachi, besides getting himself photographed near the downed Indian MIG and risking his life when police were trying to capture the terrorists at the Chinese consulate. But whatever you say about him, you have to admit that he is indeed very capable of defending his own interests. He was able to persuade the powers that be not to order a recount of his votes, despite having won by only 723. Not to forget his other achievements, like having a fake degree and being a dual national at the time of submitting his details to the Election Commission, and still remaining a minister because the hearings in his cases have been postponed repeatedly. But like all PTI ministers, he’s not been able to do what he’s been appointed to do, namely ensure water supplies to the people, especially those living in Karachi, where we have to pay through our noses for a tanker of water.

Someday we’ll find out who gives such bad advice to our Dear Leader. I’m referring to the World Bank loan of three hundred and four million dollars to Pakistan for “supporting the provincial government in strengthening fiscal risk management and budget formulation to ensure reliable resource allocation for public services”. Right now, more than ever, it’s necessary to save every penny we can instead of increasing our foreign debt. Why does the government think we need to spend money on frivolous projects? Isn’t the very learned Mr. Usman Buzdar already doing a splendid job in Punjab? Isn’t that the reason why the Prime Minister has so much confidence in him?

The latest is from Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan who says that the prices of medicines have been increased substantially to “ensure their availability in the market where they were illegally sold at extremely high prices”. According to this genius, “drugs suppliers and middlemen had created artificial shortage of those medicines whose prices were quite low”. One would have expected middlemen and drug suppliers to create shortages of high-priced drugs, as profit margins are higher whenever the price is high. But then, we shouldn’t be surprised at anything coming out of the mouths of PTI ministers and advisors. From Vawda claiming that he has “installed machines in Adiala Jail to reduce the weight of Maulana Fazlur Rehman”, to Fayyaz Chouhan demanding the public hanging of the AJK prime minister and even the great Imran Khan saying that he would go to the UK to persuade Boris Johnson to hand over Nawaz Sharif (as even the Queen herself cannot order the sacking of a lowly traffic constable), there seems to be no end to the gems emanating from them.

It was President Harry Truman who used to say “The buck stops right here!” He meant that ultimately he alone was responsible for the failures of his government. Imran Khan should realize that in Pakistan the buck stops with him, he and his ministers are responsible for rampant inflation, sugar and wheat shortages, unemployment and all other problems facing the country.

The writer is an engineer and industrialist.