Disaster and incompetence

Disaster and incompetence

Dr AQ Khan
Monday, March 31, 2014

Random thoughts

The last few weeks have been taken up by news of the tragic events in Thar where many young children and large numbers of cattle died due to drought and serious shortage of food and water. Thousands of people travelled on foot with their cattle to find ‘greener pastures’. 

While this tragedy was building up, the rulers of Sindh were busy spending billions on the ‘Sindh Festival’ to even notice. When footage of infants dying of starvation in their mothers’ laps started surfacing, the rulers laid the blame for their deaths on disease rather than from the effects of drought. 

Did not Hazrat Umar (RA) categorically state that if even a dog died of starvation or thirst on the banks of the Euphrates, he, Umar, would be held responsible to Allah for it on the Day of Reckoning? In Thar, hundreds of children died of starvation, but the rulers are least bothered. Surely there will be severe and painful punishment for such callousness.

Many of you might have read the story of a not very religious person who picked up a wounded and starving dog and took it home where he fed and looked after it. After the man died, his neighbour, a self-proclaimed ‘pious’ person, saw him in a dream looking quite happy and content. Upon enquiry he was informed that the Almighty was so pleased with his kindness to the sick dog that he had given him a place in Paradise immediately.

True or fictitious, the Almighty is the most beneficent, the most merciful and all knowing. In Thar, hundreds of infants died of starvation, yet our rulers are under the illusion that they will not be held responsible. It is a blessing from the Almighty that we have so many kind-hearted people and philanthropists in our country who always jump in to help calamity-hit people. 

In this case too, food and other aid in kind was rushed to Thar by the MQM, Edhi, the army, Jamaat-e-Islami.
 Commodore Ilyas, that he should drill wells in the area for the supply of clean drinking water. Some friends and I had arranged for the boring of two wells (costing $20,000) in the desert surrounding Timbuktu where we had earlier helped Abdul Rahman build a simple, eight-bedroom guesthouse. This guesthouse provided boarding and lodging for tourists and jobs and financial support for about 25 families. 

At a later visit we were happy to see hundreds of people and thousands of head of cattle benefitting from the wells. When the Malaysian Ambassador at Dakar, Zainul Abedur, visited Timbuktu, stayed at the guesthouse and was shown the wells, he was so impressed that he paid for two more wells to be dug. These four wells are now supplying adequate water and sparing people from having to walk many kilometres every day to obtain water from other sources. In that area, water is found at a depth of around 400 meters.

The agreement with the boring company was that, should they need to go deeper, they would bear the extra cost, but should they not need to go that deep, they would refund the portion not used. Alhamdulillah, what a practical demonstration in honesty and fair play!

If Riaz Hussain Sahib manages to get a sufficiently large number of wells dug in the Thar area, the residents will have a permanent supply of water for household purposes, cattle and limited use for irrigation for crops and vegetables. What a blessing that would be! It is supposed that here too the average depth of such wells would be no more than about 400 meters.

Now danger bells are ringing in Cholistan. However, contrary to the lethargic attitude of the Sindh rulers, Mian Shahbaz Sharif immediately dashed to Cholistan to personally supervise relief work. He is always quick to respond to emergencies. We can only hope that a serious crisis will not develop there.

Another matter of significant importance is the federal government’s total incompetence in appointing heads to 19 important state organisations. Nine months in the saddle and still such simple yet important decisions have not been taken. The other day Fahad Hasan Fahad, an additional secretary in the PM Secretariat, was trying to convince noted anchorperson, Kamran Khan, that there were legitimate reasons for not doing so. 

There was no such hesitation in filling Cabinet posts, competent or otherwise, while it was not possible to find 19 people from a population of 190 million, many of whom are highly educated and competent (but, alas, not stooges). When setting up the Kahuta Plant, it took me only a few weeks to put together an exemplary team that proved its competence by delivering a nuclear arsenal in seven years and ballistic long range missiles in three years. We also initiated and completed the rehabilitation of the Peoples’ Steel Mill in two years and planned and executed the construction of the state-of-the-art GIK Institute in three years. 

It would have been possible for me to select competent people to fill these vacant posts within four weeks. The additional secretary seems to be looking for geniuses from outer space. It is rather unfortunate that the PM, who has been in the chair twice before, is not showing any maturity. His two previous governments did not do well – full of financial scandals and maladministration – and both times he was sent home. This time, too, he has surrounded himself with inexperienced and incompetent sycophants. 

The same game as before is on now. Supreme Court orders are finding space in dustbins and the courts have been left with no powers. Their orders to appoint a chief election commissioner, chairman of the Higher Education Commission, chairman of the Pakistan Steel Mills, chairman PIA, etc are all being ignored. Repeated orders for holding local bodies elections have been totally ignored and rejected. Nonetheless, there are claims of good and transparent governance. 

Mark my words; this government will leave us under heavy foreign debt, inflation, further absence of law and order (even Islamabad faces the law of the jungle these days), corruption, etc. This practice of ‘ruling by turn’ is going to be the death of Pakistan. There is no viable opposition. Only here can ‘do mubari’ (second-rate, incompetent) corrupt people rule, plunder and destroy. Unless a revolution takes place soon, nothing will change – there is no hope for the common man.

Email: dr.a.quadeer.khan@gmail.com


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