Saturday, December 15, 2012

Raza Rumi's Model: Shahbaz Sharif & Punjab

Its not clear what tempted Raza Rumi, a columnist and twittarati with over 22k followers, for writing a 'sab acha' (everything is OK) in Punjab kinda piece under the rule of 'Khadem-e-Aala' Mia Shahbaz Sharif: May be he did it as he was once a little 'cog' in his government machinery or he obliged CM Punjab for something he owned to him but we don't know it. With due respect to Mr Rumi but his article was for public consumption and its missing points need to be fixed.

Intellectual Dishonesty:
Whatever---but one thing is clear. Mr Rumi is NOT playing on the pitch of intellectual honesty in his almost toothless column, published in Express Tribune on Dec 3rd. The only thing Mr Rumi missed, thanks to his oversight, he fell short of calling Shahbaz Sharif "Umar of Punjab"---many of the so-called good administrators in Muslim history are often called as Umar in reference to the 7th century 2nd caliph of Islam Hazrat Omar (Pakistan text books boards have Omar with O when it refers to Islam's 2nd caliph), known for good governance in the history of Islam. You all have heard stories of the 2nd caliph walking in nights in the streets to find out who was in trouble, for instance.
On the style of the historical stories related to the 2nd caliph, the article mentions the heroic deeds of Shahbaz Sharif when he was 'seen walking himself in knee-deep water, after a monsoon rain, to get to areas inundated by the water and oversee relief work.' The author ignores the fact to tell his readers whether Punjab has taken enough steps to prevent future floods. It doesn't challenge Shahbaz Sharif's self-acclaimed title of 'Islamic Socialist' but refers to the claim, though purposely.

Punjab Vs Other Provinces:
Mr Rumi writes: 'When compared to the other three provinces, he stands out for his responsiveness and ability to set the parameters of governance right'. Thats very pathetic. Mr Rumi simply ignores that the other three provinces, including territories such as FATA, Gilgit Baltistan (GB) and Pakistan-administered Kashmir, have yet to come out from the storm phase of state/nation-building and existence. Terrorism has crumbled down the ages old development and institutions in Pakhtunkhwa and FATA. Since Sharif has become CM, 100s of schools were constructed in Punjab and 1000s were destructed in KP and FATA.  Such is the race in education sector in the two provinces. While Punjab is progressing, Baluchistan is on fire since 2006. Mr Rumi's tweets on Baluchistan's plight tell a lot how the province turned into a hell in the last couple of years. Sindh's capital Karachi is losing investors to Punjab's Faisalabad due to violence there. FATA and GB can't be mentioned here as Shahbaz Sharif's 'bros' called Taliban have opened killing fields there.

Advice for Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, and Baluchistan:
'It is time for other provinces to learn from this (Sharif) model', writes Raza Rumi. Thanks but no thanks. Its not Sharif's model that prospers Punjab. The scheme of things does so. Pakistan's armed forces are from Punjab province. Every single penny of defense budget, which is the largest after debt service, goes to families in Punjab. People of other provinces and territories have less than 5 % share in Pakistan's defense budget and armed forces. 
The national and private lenders in Pakistan have their money and resources at the disposal of investors, entrepreneurs, farmers, medium-small businessmen from Punjab province. Check it with a bank in Mardan in Pakhtunkhwa, Dera Murad Jamali in Baluchistan or Jacobabad in Sindh how much loans it has provided to farmers or local entrepreneurs there in the last one year. A comparison will show that farmers in Cheechwatni in Punjab got loans and government subsidy but farmers in Pakhtunkhwa, to give an example, were arrested in Charsadda on Dec 12 for they were protesting against the lower than market prices for their cash crop tobacco.
And BTW, what Punjab lost in the all out terrorism in the other three provinces and elsewhere in Pakistan? Its a win/win phase for Punjab. US $$s coming to Pakistan go to armed forces and end up at the threshold of Punjab. The scared pale-faced industrialists in the other three provinces are shifting their money and factory to Faisalabad and elsewhere to secure their future. Individual rich families even can't afford resisting terror in Quetta, Peshawar or Karachi. Many have moved their families to the so far most safest place, Punjab, fueling real estate business there.

The author disappoints objective viewers as he fails to give some facts and figures on corruption in Punjab and its comparison with the other three provinces. Reports recently quoted head of Pakistan's anti-corruption watchdog NAB as saying Punjab's share in corruption stands at 65%---other provinces have to learn it from Sharif's admin how he does it so successfully that even Raza Rumi can't see it. 

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