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Pakistan Budget: The bitter pill

Updated Jun 21, 2013 01:59pm


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-Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro.
-Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro.
Since childhood, we have been hearing the following slogan ‘lathi goli ki sarkar nahi chaley gi.’ But at one point, the government was left with the lathi, which it continued to use for herding the masses, while the goli ended up being the responsibility of the non-state people so that they could use it to deal with the public whenever it was required. This would also save the government the trouble of using its lathi, while the snake would be killed. But in our Urdu language, there are many other golis too. Some of these golis are to be given and some are to be swallowed. At present, there is much mention of the goli that is to be swallowed.

This goli is commonly known as the bitter pill; invented for only the masses and consumed only by them, encouraged greatly by the countless free advice given to them every single day, along with the reproach that this is their fate and therefore, they must consume it, whether they like it or not. The nation’s permanent and temporary rulers don’t consider themselves eligible for consuming the bitter pill as they usually spend their nights, if not days, using many other bitter, astringent things in copious amounts. In any case, this bitter pill is only the destiny of the poor.

Our public has been quietly swallowing this bitter pill for many years, while believing it to be its fate. Everyone has their own destiny: bitter drinks for the rulers and the bitter pills for the public. One has to swallow this pill more than once a year in the name of the budget. While the budget figures colour the rulers’ dreams, they leave the public to be lost in its darkened mazes. Soon, these statistics turn into insects, which eat away at the remaining blood and flesh of the poor public.

When those who actually come up with these figures don’t understand the numbers themselves, how can our lawmakers – who sit in the assemblies and are more law crackers than lawmakers – understand these numbers? But they still pass the budget, just because their party told them to, without even reading and/or understanding it as they aren’t going to lose anything by approving it. In fact, they hope to receive more by approving the budget. That is why they approve the budget with their eyes shut. Whatever happens is to be endured by the public. Our lawmakers – whether they are in the government or in the opposition – receive various perks in large quantities to rekindle their faith and to get their past misdeeds forgiven, apart from the customary health facilities. Therefore, they are only playing their traditional roles. If one is in the opposition, then one must oppose with eyes closed. If one is in government, then one must settle for constant praising.

-Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro.
-Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro.
Neither of the two groups actually reads the budget as both have already hired certain people who can neither sit beside them in the assembly nor help to resolve the tangle of statistics. Besides, who has the time to actually sort out the confusing data? One can get away with anything here. The only reason for them to actually worry about the facts and figures would be when this complicated data affects their development programs or margins. All the rest is up to the public and their fate! In any case, it’s the masses that have the experience of ingesting the bitter pill. These poor lawmakers are the inexperienced ones in this case, so one can’t really expect them to understand. This year shall pass with the public’s support and the same shall happen next year, so why worry?

New debts are taken out in order to pay off previous loans. The poor souls don’t even get a penny in their name. The treasury has been empty for a long time now. It’s actually rather brave of the lawmakers to introduce development schemes, such as roads and even gifts like bullet trains. So it doesn’t matter if we don’t have gas or electricity. In fact, we should be proud that we are a nuclear power. It is only after eating grass and going hungry that we have managed to walk among the international community with our head held high. No one can dare to lay an evil eye on us. Our brave armed forces – ranked as one of the world’s best – know perfectly well how to protect the nation.

The slight unrest that we have is all because of the politicians and it is their responsibility to deal with it. The army is supposed to be protecting the country’s borders and it has always sacrificed their lives to protect the nation. To all those who say that most of our budget is spent on defence, do you know how much the antagonising nations spend on their armed forces? Our defence budget is nothing compared to theirs. It has been demanded that the defence budget must be cut in order to eliminate the one per cent increase in the GST. That is impossible! An act of treason! Our patriotic people cannot just put the nation in serious danger simply to eliminate a one per cent increase in GST. They shall sacrifice themselves again for the nation like they have done previously. They are used to swallowing the bitter pill; it is one of their best skills.

-Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro.
-Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro.
Those who say that the ones who should be at the borders are seen in the cities, it is us who have been keeping the unrest in our cities under control. What the terrorists would do to our cities if it wasn’t for our brave soldiers is utterly unimaginable. The police have nothing do to anymore. Give up the entire cities to our control and then see how the unrest comes under control. It is the armed forces that have kept this nation secure for the last 65 years and shall continue to protect it. Those who talk of decreasing the defence budget are surely planning something sinister.

May God maintain General Musharraf’s health! He began a new tradition in the budget. Pensions of the armed forces personnel were added to the civil budget. Due to this, it seemed as if the defence budget had decreased. Fortunately, the representatives didn’t notice it. And the best part was that General Sahab doubled our salaries, which meant that our income was more than the civil servants. The difference is clear. We protect this country with our lives. What do the civil servants have to do that requires such hefty salaries? And forget the police; it manages its expenses quite easily so why increase their salaries.

It must be emphasised that no one needs to worry when our patriotic people are there to help. Everything will continue as it is with the public. It will bear any misery levelled at it but never let anything happen to its beloved homeland. Bravo to the passion of the Pakistani public who is always prepared to bear any suffering in the name of national interest.

Read this blog in Urdu here.

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The author has dabbled in every form of the visual arts. An activist to the core, Abro’s work deals with social themes and issues ranging from human rights to dictatorial regimes. He is currently working for DAWN as an illustrator.

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (3) Closed

Alami Musafir Jun 20, 2013 10:16pm

It is wonderful to see that even DAWN, that most circumspect of newspapers, now acknowledges that something is rotten in the state of Denmark. The problem is known. But what is the solution ? Where are the Hassan-i-Sabbah and Sinan of Pakistan in their hour of need ?

The Failed Rebel Jun 21, 2013 05:46am

Bravo to the writer for this audacious article.

I don't know why my people remain silent and why is Imran Khan staying silent over the budget? These character-less hypocritical "leaders" will continue to scavenge the general public with this budget.

I am wondering how quickly our people forget the promises over which these leaders convinced them to vote.

Where is the conviction of the defaulters? Where is the no-drone statement? Why has our PM not made a public speech about the strategy? Why is there no comment on the budget? Why are most of these "philanthropic" members of the NA silent? Why should we devour this pill?

The Rs. 8500 "arab" corruption done by PPP, why did it not even make it to the headlines for any sort of recovery? Why are they convicts still roaming free?

Shame on us, the Pakistani people. Shame on those who are so blindfolded by the hollow promises of these "leaders" that they are unable to see through the consequences of the government policies. If this continues, a civil mutiny is inevitable.

I personally would welcome the day when these traitors are taken out of their abodes by the very guards that protect them, and assassinated. They deserve it.

A Jun 21, 2013 02:25pm

Pathetic article. Army is responsible for the worst fate in Pakistan.