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All power to the Khadim-i-Aala

Published Sep 09, 2011 12:46pm

—Photo Illustration by Faraz Aamer Khan/Dawn.com

The Khadim-i-Aala, Punjab’s yellow cab scheme is amazing. It is amazing because it will provide self-employment to thousands of people who will win the right to own a cab which is being leased out at very easy installments in a transparent manner by holding a lucky draw of sorts. But the pity is that very few people in the province are aware of the scheme, and perhaps the government is not seeing the kind of run on the banks to apply for the scheme that it expected — ostensibly because no free Umrah tickets are offered to the winners as an incentive. How very odd. Perhaps that’s why the scheme needs to be heavily advertised at public expense in major newspapers and on TV alike. Creating awareness about the scheme is obviously more important than investing the money being spent on advertisement into a few hundred more yellow cabs.

See, the people have the right to know what their Khadim (servant) is doing for them; because unlike in the Kingdom of Islam presided over by another royal Khadim, of whom our Khadim had been a privileged guest during the traitor Musharraf’s undemocratic and obscenity-filled era when girls danced to blaring, vulgar Indian songs on Lahore’s rooftops as they celebrated Basant, ours is a democracy where even such khadims are answerable to their masters, i.e. the public. What a contrast, really, hence the knockout advertisement campaign.

You are a fortunate person today to be visiting or living in Lahore. Here you can see for yourself the working of a government that responds to the people’s needs. Because we live in times that favour no one, it is important that you be stopped for inspection by the police as you drive through the city — as often as the threat level on a given day merits. The presence in the city, of course, of outlaws that are obviously not local, is the reason why there are so many police pickets in Lahore every few blocks. However, cell phone snatchers, the armed dacoits and ruffians terrorising the citizens of the city come dressed in camouflage. Sporting urban attire on the criminals’ part is only an indication of how fast Punjab is urbanising and progressing. Unfortunately, with this also comes crime, as it does in Chicago and New York, for instance, it can well be argued.

Lahore is the safest city to be in Pakistan today, that is, if you have a connection in the right quarters. For instance, if you know Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, you can be treated well in a government hospital if you have Dengue fever.  Bureaucrats reportedly denied admission to the Services Hospital, Lahore, for treatment are obviously jealous of Punjab government’s exemplary initiative to combat the Dengue epidemic. The Khadim-i-Aala’s government has taken the right step by allowing the Lahore city district government to sell the chemical liquid to citizens to spray it in their respective areas even though the labels on the bottles of the spray state clearly that it is for government use only and not for sale to the general public. Very pragmatic and transparent indeed.

The Khadim-i-Aala is very fond of threatening the bureaucrats of hanging them upside down if an irregularity is reported about their conduct and the way they handled a given situation. That he does not promise himself a similar punishment says a lot about his sense of responsibility. There’s a catch here. He alone is the last recourse for setting all the wrongs right in Pakistan’s largest province. He indeed is irreplaceable; therefore sanity demands that he be the arbiter of all things and decisions fair.

The facts that people may be dying of dengue fever in Lahore, and others may be drowning in the floodwaters of Sutlej River, fade in the face of the challenges that Sindh’s flood affected people are confronted with, especially in the face of the apathy shown to them by that province’s administration. How the Khadim-i-Aala, Punjab, wishes that his Sindhi counterpart followed his glorious example. And that is, that, in his own words, he will “hang upside down” the officials he finds responsible for adding to people’s misery.

Because the Khadim-i-Aala, Punjab, means everything he says, and shows it through his actions, it is expected that Punjab police will now stop harassing motorists, the commercial theatre workers and ordinary citizens going there, and set out on the trail of real criminals, nab them and get them prosecuted through the very efficient justice system that we have in the post-Musharraf Punjab.

All power to the good intensions of the Khadim-i-Aala, Punjab. How one wishes his conduct shames his counterparts in the other provinces into following in his footsteps and doing the right thing by their respective people.

The writer is a member of the staff at Dawn Newspaper.