THE government has made public the details of foreign gifts received by ex- presidents, prime ministers and govern- ment officials from 2002 to 2023, and more such details are expected to surface in the days ahead. There is an unbelievably long list of expensive items gifted to the ‘servants of people’ who stepped into the corridors of power on the strength of the vote of the poor.

Instead of depositing all those gifted items in the Toshakhana, these greedy so-called ‘leaders’ took them away either at a throwaway price or simply free of cost. Toshakhana is a subject of discussion on electronic and print media, with the world laughing at us. At this time of disgrace and dishonour because of greedy political leadership, the media must highlight leaders of the past with honesty and integrity.

Among them is the first prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan and her wife Begum Ra’ana Liaquat Ali Khan. Liaquat not only left his entire estate in India, but also gifted his newly-constructed, fully furnished house, Gul-i-Ra’ana, in the most expensive area of Delhi to the government of Pakistan for establishing the high commissioner’s office in India.

His wife, when she was serving as ambassador in the Netherlands, was gifted a castle by the then Dutch queen upon winning a game of chess, which she very generously gifted to the government of Pakistan, and even today the Pakistan embassy is housed in that lavish villa.

Surprisingly, learned scholars in talk shows on television screens never mention such gestures of integrity and generosity on the part of the leaders of the past. Generosity, even though praiseworthy, is optional, but integrity is an essential prerequisite to leadership.

Aamir Aqil
Lahore

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2023

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