Missing Pens!


Over the past two democratic tenures, Punjab has shown positive yet sometimes sparkling growth signs. Please refer to multiple governmental and non-governmental figures issued over the past ten years as I do not indent to share any stats in this article. Anyways, moving back to the discussion the only factor that helped the growth phenomena was nothing else but the will and courage to take decision.

You must have heard rumors of an efficient CM with only three hours sleep. Let me assure you he wasn’t using all or even majority of his time researching every pending approval. It’s just not practically possible. What he did right was appointed hardworking administrators asking them to take decision quickly in order to allow any review on the approval and then amend promptly. Pens sign approvals and re-sign the amendments as and when required, which keeps the growth wheels rolling ultimately in the desired direction.

Many provincial departments experienced reshuffle as soon as the relevant corners paint the full green flag half red. Many pens were replaced by glasses. Before the half red paint, many personalized pens with different customized inks were signing numerous files helping the state machinery function and take decisions.

As established by the establishment of the country, the biggest problem Pakistan faces is not corruption instead the inability to take decision. No decision leads to no work done, hence zero growth. The pens hired subject specialists (SS) and used them to maneuver through difficult yet innovative projects. The SS would report directly to pens and by regularly updating them would seek accords to accomplish task through the regular Sarkari Bhartis (SB).

This sight, where prompt solution provided by the SS for resolution of pending matters griped by inefficiency or corruption was not pleasing for the SB. Pens being aware of the time and effort required to bring all stakeholders to the table would push towards a decision regardless of strong backing hoping that if the need to revisit the decision occurs, it may be dealt with in the subsequent meeting. Meeting would conclude and the SS would celebrate very small or big victory towards economic empowerment and growth.

Today we survive in the era of glasses. Many shaking heads with concerning eyeballs but with glasses on their nose instead of pens in their hands are frequently heading meetings of many projects entering critical stage. Their concern for the prosperity of projects and ultimately the state, results in secluding of meeting after meeting with newspaper length minutes of meetings yet no decision being taken.

The SS are moved to the far end of the meeting table and the SB are instructed to hurdle around the glasses. Form the far end of the table the sorry state is quite visible, too many glasses on the table and yet no Pen in the room to take decision. It is the time for revenge. slowly and gradually the number of SS reduce to a point where a few are kept and even they are instructed to report to the SB. The SS are instructed by the SB to prepare response with reasons of delay is service by the SB. The brains used by the pens for growth are now answerable of the negative impacts yielded due to non-compliance and delay in services caused by the SB while Glasses clink.

First the Governor of Punjab Muhammad Sarwar expressed his frustration and threatened to releases names of dormant Glasses obstructing day to day operations of the Government and now it’s the Prime Minister Imran Khan heard with the same sad song. The Covid-19 situation has obviously helped provided a lethargic list of excuses but the situation before and after is pretty much the same.

Projects suffer subsequent relevant approvals and the fight for clearance of already approved funds is still on just the way it has been for centuries. The current government also accuse their predecessor of putting in these glasses in place strategically for their vested interest. Another corner simply rates the bureaucracy more powerful and working with the usual two-face usual tactic. After all, converting fiction into reality is just a proof away.

Unfortunately, with so much time wasted Punjab is not ready for anymore blame game. Regardless of the tussle of respect, stature and power the relevant corners with public mandate will have to understand the game to play it. Merely spending money for a party ticket and later for a ministry can fulfill one’s personnel aims but giving back to the community requires sheer hard work and the will to deliver.

It is a known fact that political parties require funds for various activities before and after that day of poll. But, Political parties will have to reduce paid parliament seats and increase the number of hardworking and selfless individuals. These individuals might need that extra support from the party to win on the day but their hard work will pay off.

Currently, there are too many Glasses in Punjab which make it crystal clear that the intent to deliver is not there. After two years the complain of not knowing the Pens is also not acceptable as you have been in the seat for quite some time now.

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Muhammed Mushaf Khan

The writer is an expert of Financial services and has previously been an advisor to government of Financial inclusion. He can be contacted at his twitter account @MushafKhanPak.