Every government, including PPP, PML-N and the incumbent PTI, unanimously agree that “it is not the business of government to do business”. It is a universally accepted principle that the government consists of the executive, the parliament and the judiciary, each working within their confines laid down in the constitution. The power to interpret the constitution, however, lies solely with the judiciary and it alone can keep an oversight on executive and also ensure that legislation passed by parliament does not violate the spirit of the constitution. If it is accepted that the government has no business to do business, it also implies that all departments formed by it and funded by national exchequer also do not do business.

Unfortunately, what is happening is that every subordinate department is seen being involved in commercial business ventures. All this is being done to the detriment of national exchequer, by seeking tax rebates, waivers etc., while the State does not have sufficient funds to provide basic civic necessities of life to citizens and fulfill its constitutional obligations to provide subsidized health, education to the most deprived, nor even clean drinking water and enforcement of law and order.

The State collects taxes from citizens to fund various departments essential for the performance of their constitutional functions, pay salaries to citizens recruited strictly on merit, skills and qualifications. Some of these essential departments and ministries are Finance, Commerce, Interior, Defense, Communication, Education, Health etc. All these departments and those recruited by them collectively form the government, working under a constitutionally elected executive. Neither the executive nor administratively subordinate departments should be seen doing business.

MALIK TARIQ ALI,

Lahore.