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Running the state is a rewarding business

March 26, 2013

Pakistan bid goodbye to its Parliament and provincial assemblies last week, and with that, some hurried last minute legislation was in order. Amongst some of the laws passed was a lifetime of perks and privileges for MNAs in the Sindh Assembly, and decisions over a lifetime of security for ex-prime ministers.

Less publicly, questions arose earlier this month over the vast amounts of money taken from the public exchequer for the development of the Defence Housing Authority (DHA), which results in questionable perks for Pakistan’s military.

In the Sindh Assembly, for example, the speaker, deputy speaker, and chief minister have been granted salaries, allowances, and privileges for the rest of their lives. In addition, ministers, special assistants and MPAs will have an increase in their allowances as well as a special new allowance for cell phone charges.

Then, reports indicate that former premiers Yousuf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervaiz Ashraf have allocated 150 constables, four DSPs and two SPs to their protection in Islamabad. Other reports say that the majority of Punjab’s Elite Police Force is busy protecting the Sharifs, the Gilanis and the Ashraf’s despite the fact that they are technically no longer part of government.

 Given the country’s deteriorating economic and security conditions, can these kinds of perks for parliamentarians, judges, and militiraly officials be justified despite the services they have offered to the country? Judges, for instance, also have a lifetime of perks including a car, driver and cook.

Besides all the monetary privileges, a question that arises is why so much security should be provided to our political, military and judicial leaders while the state has failed to protect the lives of thousands over the last few years in particular.

Given the rising levels of terrorism, sectarianism and general violence, what is your opinion about the fact that of the 963 police commandoes in Lahore, around a 100 actually protect citizens while the rest are either on VIP protocol duty or off on training courses or leave?