In the world of ‘no free lunches’
Neither hunger can be eradicated by feeding the hungry, nor can corruption be combated by putting in 500 people in jail.
The prime minister has initiated a soup kitchen scheme in Islamabad to be extended across the country to provide free meals to deserving people in a respectful manner. The step is praiseworthy but such soup kitchens, mostly on the patterns of primitive monarchic style, are not an appropriate response to the needs of the people. The best way to feed them is through creating jobs and cutting the inflation rate, and that can only be realised when the economy rebounds and strict but effective fiscal policies are followed. The prime minister, however, sees things differently. At the launch of the Kitchen Soup he said, “Ehsaas Langar is a real step towards the creation of a welfare state like Madina. This is our government’s top priority that nobody sleeps hungry in Pakistan.” He should be reminded that such handouts are not the real step towards the creation of a welfare state; they are but palliative steps. The good thing, however, is that the prime minister is mindful of the restlessness among the people because of the poor fiscal outlook. He wants the people to be patient and less critical of the government’s 13-month progress. Of course, people’s patience is waning, but the government’s long-term policies, which are sure to put the country on the right track, need to be advertised and conveyed to the people. The problem is with the communication strategy, not with the government’s policies. Blaming past governments for every ill can be a good election strategy, but not much more.
Also, Prime Minister Khan has announced his desire to put 500 corrupt people in Pakistan behind bars on the pattern of Chinese President Xi Jinping to purge the country of corruption. The statement reeks of vendetta, and this is not the first time the prime minister has expressed his desire to make an example out of corrupt politicians. The prime minister should ask himself what he has done in the last 13 months to fight corruption. No reforms have been put in place, and no lacunae removed in laws for effective prosecution and speedy trials. Instead, the process of accountability is gaining the impression of political victimisation.
No one can doubt the noble intentions of the prime minister but the government should speed up its policies to reform the economy and make the accountability process real and effective.
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