Karachi: When Home Minister Zulfikar Mirza teasingly offered the services of Sindh Minister for Works and Services Manzoor Wassan to the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) in the effort to complete the seemingly unending reconstruction of their road networks, he may have unknowingly had a painfully valid idea.
A disconcerted MPA, Imran Leghari, speaking on a point of order on Thursday, complained that the DHA was faltering and inordinately delaying the reconstruction of a number of roads within its jurisdiction, causing immense inconvenience to many residents (story on page 14). He complained that the CDGK could not do anything since the area was not under its jurisdiction and nor could the Sindh government. He insisted, however, that the Sindh government should press the DHA to complete the roads on time given that the body was not listening to the pleas of the citizens. Needless to say, the affected residents are now furious.
Well, Mr Mirza’s seemingly jocular idea of appointing an extremely “able” Manzoor Wassan Saheb to get the job done may not be that bad an idea. After all, if it’s convincing that the DHA administration needs, then you may have your solution right there.
Back in 1990, Wassan Saheb, then the mercurial Transport Minister in Benazir Bhutto’s first government, was frustrated with his transport secretary Zubair Kidwai. Mr Kidwai, in his staunch earnestness, a rare if not extinct trait in our praetorian bureaucracy, refused to oblige a fuming Transport Minister.
Mr Wassan proceeded to do what all red-blooded wielders of power in Pakistan would do: got his guards to point their automatic weapons at the non-compliant secretary in the Sindh secretariat.
It is another matter that Mr Wassan’s technique did not work on an undaunted Kidwai, who would later become Sindh chief sectretary. It is unlikely that the method will fail twice, right? After all, how many people can refuse something with automatic weapons in their face.
If it is the reported promise that Mr Wassan, at present the seemingly reformed (for now) Minister for Works and Services, has made with the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to behave, then the same task of persuading the DHA can be given to the current Food Minister.
No, he won’t need to bribe the DHA using our often scarce stocks of essentials — however good an idea as that may sound — but he can use his experience of aggression to twist the arms concerned. This time he won’t even have to break rules like he did back in 1994 when his guards went on a rampage on the premises of the Sindh Assembly. Wielding guns, by the looks of it, is a regular occurrence and an accepted form of communication in between the more affluent residents of the DHA and lesser locals.
The people of Defence would be eternally grateful to either Minister.
REALITY NOTE: As the Sindh assembly session was prorogued for the last time in the current government’s first year, there were many congratulations over the completion of the designated number of days required for the constitutional minimum (70 days). While that may be technically true, since the assembly was in session for 72 days, let it not be lost on us that the assembly physically met for only 49 days – the rest being holidays or weekends.
Let it also not be overlooked that question and answer sessions have not been held for all the Sindh government’s departments – including important ones such as Land Utilisation and Finance. But let us leave this potentially touchy discussion for another day.[The News]