By Umer Raza Bhutta
As we all know that our country is in grip of (again in the grip of) worst type of financial, administrative and governance crunch. If we could make a comparison of this crunch with any financial difficulty experienced in one’s life what would come out. Let us look at our lives, if any one of us go through any kind of financial or any other related difficulty at home, or if there is a lack of budget left for the month because of some unexpected spending during the month, the end of the month becomes an austerity regime. The wise would do so, whereas the otherwise will not bother and may end up borrowing. The head of the Family (normally the father) issues directives and at the same time handles the finances wisely. What happens in this scenario is that the parents generally do not let this crunch to be too heavily transferred at the weaker part of the family i.e. kids. It usually is the parents who feel the heat. They spend less on their own clothing, on their own facilitation, on their own comforts and let the comfort go to the kids.
Let me create an analogy, if the Prime Minister and the President think that Pakistan is their house and they are the head of the family, all the disciples are the kids. Why wouldn’t they come forward and say that I am here to sacrifice more. I believe they will come forward and offer this sacrifice, but in order to do that they need to think that they are the head of family. They do offer sacrifices, but their sacrifice is limited to the sacrifice of their family time, sacrifice of their privacy and sometimes the sacrifice is to go to jail and spend time in solitary confinement. (to them it is a reward per se)
Today was another occasion when I listened to the first speech to the parliament of a new Prime Minister of Pakistan with owe. I was wondering as to why the PM cannot deliver a speech while knowing the following and saying the following. “I know what financial difficulty we are going through as a nation”…..”and as I am the head of an Islamic state”….”and as I know what a common man goes through in his daily life routine”……”now I will be doing the following to SET AN EXAMPLE” “So that my countrymen may follow me”
• There will be no parties at my official residence from the governments’ budget.
• There will be no EID Milan and song parties at my official residence.
• I will not participate in any of such parties/function etc.
• Country wide, no one is allowed to hang banners or billboards of my name and picture.
• No government or party office holder is allowed to place advertisement in the newspaper having my name and picture and congratulating me or my government.
• On my official visit to any city, the CM and Governor must not come to receive me, they must only send their representative and I will meet them in their office.
• I will not be holding any public address and gatherings, and no money must be spent on arranging any such event.
• I will not participate in any wedding ceremony that is arranged in big hotels and venues where there is several dishes served. I will only participate in wedding if it is arranged with simplicity with one dish served.
• I will be travelling only in one car and the necessary security.
• In the seminars and opening ceremony of any event, where I will participate there should only be tea and no food.
• In my cabinet meetings there will be only water served.
• In terms of the justice, If even my own son violates the law of the land the police should arrest him.
• My ministers and assembly members will not entertain any such call to them in which a street violator asks them to call the police officer and pardon him.
• Non of my ministers will use cars with black window mirrors.
• No one should entertain any individual for giving job who takes my name, only that individual should be entertained who is on merit.
• Non of my ministers are allowed to give any of their names as a reference to any company, factory or any office to hire any individual.
• My family is not entitled to any official trip and they will strictly spend from their own pocket.
• Whenever, there is any official trip only my wife is entitled to accompany me. And my complete entourage will comprise to the maximum of 15 people in each trip.
• On my trips abroad non of my family member and the staff member will go out for shopping. If they want to go around they will do on their own expense and no embassy staff/car will be detained for them.
• I will not go for performing of Umrah and Hajj until I am holding the public office.
• There will be no renovation in my official residence until I am holding the office.
• All the imported items in my Official residence will be sold and the money will be given to the national exchequer and no purchases will be done for my official residence.
• I will always carry my own documents/bag while going for any meeting.
• There is no official dress at the cabinet meeting.
• If I reach 5 minute late to any meeting, ceremony etc. it should start without me.
• I am publicly announcing the list of my assets today.
The wish list is endless, but this list can apply, in one way or the other to any one of us at our own level.
Is it possible that our Prime Minister and the President as head of the family could come forward and start this austerity drive from them? In the above mentioned points, these are just the simple day-to-day used language and items. Our Prime Minster and the President do not have to use very creative jargons and scientific tools. It is only a will of the way and the will can only be found through the small steps and the larger steps can always follow. They do not have to impose these austerity measures on any of their reporting staff as well. It is only they who could start this process by themselves. It is only they who could make an ideal out of themselves for others. It is only they who could bring about change by being the change themselves.
(Written in December 2009 and shared today (June 22, 2012) with some amendments)