Faisal Ali Ghumman
Austerity, a rare commodity in the third world countries on this earth, is a precious gift of Almighty Allah and practised widely and wisely by Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in everyday matters beginning from personal life and ending up at regulating state matters.
Pakistan’s seven decades have passed, but this word stands nowhere in the personal lives of people and state affairs. Pakistan has been obsessed with increasing internal and external debts to run the state expenditures and development by the successive regimes instead of focus on new ways and means to generate income on our own.
Prime Minister Imran Khan adopting different line had announced in his televised address soon after taking the oath that he is going to adopt simplicity from his own office in order to curtail rising expenditures. The announcement of curtailing PM office and official travel expense was welcomed by Pakistanis who what the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) claims, have voted for ‘New Pakistan’.
Later, few actions like Mr Khan’s movement to and from his personal residence Bani Galai by air, his security cavalcade movements, a couple of lavish feasts, and VVIP movement of Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Bozdar in different parts of the province at the cost of public exchequer have been seen as negation to the prime minister’s tall claims of simplicity.
The other day Federal Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed was filmed travelling on a Rawalpindi Road with his full-fledged police escort and later was seen intimidating some shopkeepers for encroaching upon the road with bike parking.
Mr Khan has promised with the nation more than once that he, his federal cabinet and governments in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will adopt a simple working lifestyle to curtail expenditures his predecessors used to get incurred on local and international occasions.
The extraordinary security measures in and around Mr Khan’s Zaman Park Lahore residency on the occasion of his first city visit as PM on Saturday also led to a great deal of inconvenience for motorists who were seen exposing double standards of PTI’s austerity slogan on social media.
Sorry to say that some key security institutions have been playing with the slogan of ‘security threat’ and making an excuse for ensuring security protocol for important government functionaries, the claim too endorsed by Mr Khan in his post-election speech.
If the ongoing war against terrorism and its backlash on high-profile personalities are to be believed, this writer is not against the security protection of some high-ranking elected representatives of the country and important state personalities, but it should be minimum with solid justification as the people’s money is involved.
The state writ demands from the PTI-led government to apply austerity in all matters not only to the Executive organ of the state but also to two key state players, Army and Judiciary, side by side.
Unfortunately, Pakistan is passing through critical juncture economically and administratively and especially at a time when finance minister Asad Omer is also hinting at knocking the doors of international lenders for seeking $9billion to run the state affairs.
The power shortages and rising circular debt is another gigantic challenge Imran-led regime has come across. The stoppage of $300million US aid under war against terrorism head is another upcoming headache for the government as the country by hook or by crook has to bear the ongoing security expenses.
Amid 100-day agenda, huge and undaunted responsibility lies on the shoulders of Prime Minister Imran Khan to do away with lavish working style and eliminate VVIP culture in order to bridge the gap between multiplying expenditure and dwindling income.
The time would tell whether all notifications issued by the government to abandon protocols at airports, discontinuation of expensive official meals, replacement of heavy vehicles with small one, auction of luxury vehicles, reduced foreign visits etc would bear any fruit or turn to be another eye-wash.
Mr Khan, it’s time to become a knight in shining armour to save this poverty-stricken nation from further decline!
–The writer is Country Editor Daily The Business and Ex-Reporter Daily Dawn.