Random Numbness (Dec 2022)

Things became boring. Bajwa left ceremoniously. Faiz left unceremoniously. No DG. No DJ. No two sad faces in uniform to meddle in politics without meddling in politics.

Khan is left with nothing but mistakes to remember. It’s been over a week since he announced resignations from two provincial assemblies, but nothing.

Doesn’t even feel like mocking him anymore. With Faiz gone, he’s pretty much done. Until he finds another Faiz.

Meanwhile, the little Sharif is still ruling the country with his hand gestures. No middle finger. Only hands. He’s on top with the new Chief in town. No worries for him until someone sees the boy in a mirror. Snake. Like all the previous snakes who had milk and then they wanted the cow too.

Aren’t they the holy cows themselves?

Then is Zardari. Looks irrelevant but isn’t. His ‘khudday line’ aged well for the boy who was thinking to rule till 2029 – but ended in 2022. Couldn’t see his due 2023.

And then is our Fazlu. He’s sad about Joyland. Doesn’t want to ride along. Couldn’t handle his tongue about women. Typical. Why do these men with beards have to sniff every arse in every town? This business of sniffing needs some scholarly researched articles. To cite. For bickering.

It is boring. There is no fun left. April was the best month of the year. With Joker replacing a Joker and all the midnight drama and fun and everyone seeing the actual culprits who were named and shamed throughout the year.

Blessed days are always remembered when they are gone.

Honestly, let’s halt. For a moment. Omit April.

Khan would have installed Faiz. For sure. The later would have re-installed the former in Fall 2023. Faiz would have given an extension in 2026 to 2029. And Khan would have all the time and all the watches to enjoy and sell. By that time, Ghafoor would have updated the game to 9th Generation warfare with so many unemployed youth sniffing each other’s arse online.

But the dream turned out to be a nightmare with all the relevant boys becoming irrelevant. Only the Joker in Islamabad stays intact with the country breaking down financially. What a shame! For comedy. Of errors.

Anyway. With external loans around $99 billion, the country is on a verge. Still, loans are being taken for roads and unnecessary development projects. Extremely useless loans which are not going to help achieving SDGs or sustainability.

For a peek, go to the World Bank’s official website and see the portfolio of Pakistan and the loan-based projects this country is running. Useless. Pathetic. With billions to be paid in years to come.

Meanwhile, local development is designed only for the sake of ribbons to be cut before the election time. Right on time.

Ah! Solutions. Yes. You crave for solutions. 1st rule of the page is, do not talk about solutions. 2nd rule of the page is, DO NOT TALK ABOUT SOLUTIONS. 3rd rule is, to know the problems, accept them with heart. 4th rule is, to unite with relatable common macro problems. 6th rule is yet to be designed. It will be something a little closer to the history of errors. 7th rule will be something around solutions. 5th rule is left intentionally for unintentional needs and wants.

Until then, suffer!

District Development Package (DDP) of Punjab 2021-22

This piece is in response to Mr. Hasaan Khawar, SACM to the Chief Minister Punjab, who has recently tweeted that District Development Package (DDP) is a game-changer for Punjab. Well, it is not a game-changer.

Budget 2020-21 was prepared with mockery in the name of ‘Development’. Punjab – like KPK – has made one of the stupidest budgets (particularly development portfolio) in years.

A quick look.

Hundreds of thousands of new schemes – tagged under DDP – were included in ADP 2021-22 of Punjab; to make parliamentarians happy. Most of these schemes were non-feasible and against the set rules of development criteria.

For example, a school is proposed near another school (instead of revamping the old one) so that the parliamentarian of the region can cut the ribbon of the new building right before the next general elections.

Similarly, a health facility is being established right within the vicinity of a DHQ or Tertiary Hospital. To cut ribbon. Before election.

And even the calculation is messed up. There are around 20 DDP schemes in ADP 2021-22 which are regarding “Establishment of Trauma Centers” across Punjab. The cost of Trauma Center should be same (at least somewhat). But, no. One trauma center is being established for Rs.50 million while another one is being established for Rs.500 million. Same is the case with schools, BHUs, RHCs, roads, etc. There is no homework and there is no planning.

You remember there were talks of “angry parliamentarians” and “forward block” in Punjab during April-May 2021? This DDP was designed to make them happy. Now they all have something to look forward to cut ribbons around the next General Elections.

With these DDP schemes in ADP 2021-22 worth billions of rupees, CM Office of Punjab directed the Administrative Departments and Local Administrations of the province to approve all the schemes below Rs.50 million by July 21st, from Rs.50 to 400 million by July 31st, and above Rs.400 by August 31st. Even if the schemes were non-feasible.

PC-Is (which is a document of a scheme / project with its complete scope of work, costing, financing, etc.) were prepared within days. Copying one PC-I and pasting it to other 100s. Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners approved (originally approved, principally approved, or pathetically approved) schemes in wholesale. One after another. With or without PC-Is. With or without feasibility. With or without availability of lands / sites. Because they had no other direction from the top, and mostly, the bureaucrats have no ground to stand on.  

There is an online portal called SMDP of P&D Board of Punjab. All the Secretaries, Commissioners, and Deputy Commissioners were in race to mark their schemes as “approved” on the portal. They were approving schemes on Eid-ul-Azha days as well. Don’t be surprised. They were approving schemes without DDC / DDWP meetings.

This is Punjab at the moment. With a stick in the arse, bureaucrats were running around the directions of the CM.

What will this huge DDP portfolio lead to?

Billions will be wasted. With unplanned PC-Is and hassled approvals, long-term results are going to be scaring. Ugly structures with repetitive scope of work and with duplication in equipment and HR; Punjab’s development is going to be hurt in the long-run (technically called: MTDF which is the throw-forward to finance these schemes in future).

This is happening in all 32 departments of Punjab, which fall under the “charismatic” leadership of Planning & Development Board.

Do you know what is the difference between Parliamentarians and Bureaucrats? Nothing. One is cream (expired) and the other is power elite. Both with poor IQ and least concern for the general public. Usually hand-in-hand with the tax-payers money being wasted like this.

Let me give you another example.

Consider the land is free. On a 10 marla plot, you can construct a brand new home, with properly furnished baths and bedrooms, at a cost of Rs.1 crore. Rs.1 crore is a huge amount when you make your own home.

Now come to a government dispensary. Again, the land is free. For a one room dispensary with one shelf, a toilet, a couple of doors, and basic furniture; it will cost Rs.1 crore.

A simple single storey building with a couple of rooms, toilets, and a passage; will have a cost of over Rs.5 crores.

Huge briberies from contractor to SDO to XEN to SE to Chief to all the ugly ducklings in and around the Secretariat move in a discreet manner. That’s the only thing that moves from bottom to top in a swift and sincere manner. With huge corruption, even the newly established structures look old and are ready to leak as soon as there’s Monsoon.

News says that development budget of the province has increased from Rs.337 billion in 2020-21 to Rs.560 billion in 2021-22. But it is not development based on feasibility studies. It is just more. More allocations. More releases. More opportunities. More corruption. More generation of wealth. More ribbons. And more everything.