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Adding insult to injury: Government cheques bounce

March 23, 2013

OFFICIALDOM in Pakistan is quite adept at making a bad situation worse simply through incompetence and insensitive behaviour. As reported, while some of the victims of the recent mob attack on Christian homes in Lahore’s Joseph Colony have received compensation, cheques issued to a number of others by the Punjab government have bounced. Understandably, for those affected by the outrage this amounts to rubbing salt into their wounds. While the Punjab accountant general’s office has termed the mishap an “internal issue”, this cannot be a justification to cover up the administration’s inefficiency when dealing with victims of violence. It is not uncommon in Pakistan for victims of terrorism and their families to have to make their way through red tape just to access state compensation. For example, there have been complaints that families affected by Karachi’s Abbas Town blast also faced obstacles before the Sindh government finally issued their cheques.

After having their houses ransacked by a frenzied crowd, as in the Joseph Colony incident, or losing loved ones to a terrorist bombing, as in the Abbas Town tragedy, victims’ families are in a state of shock and depression. The last thing they need is for their rightful compensation to be delayed due to bureaucratic bungling. The Punjab administra-tion should have made sure funds were in the bank before writing the cheques. The core issue remains the state’s lack of empathy for victims of violence, while corruption within the government machinery continues to be a major problem. The state has failed the people by not protecting their lives and property. At least it can try and heal the wounds by making sure funds are disbursed to victims in a respectable manner and within a reasonable time frame.