As crimes of ‘omission’ are not punished in the land of the pure ‘commission’ has become very lucrative business. In the administrative set up nothing moves without speed money. Malik Riaz, the leading real estate developer of the country has openly admitted that he has to bribe his way through to get the job done. In the Nandipur Debacle Investigation, Dr. Babar Awan, the then Law Minister was given relief by the court as the charges against him were of omission for which there is no penalty in law. As the loss to the project runs into billion, NAB (National Accountability Bureau) has decided to file an appeal against the decision.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) together with reasonable time deadlines should be introduced for all government procedures. Khan Qayyum Khan as Bhutto’s Interior Minister in the seventies introduced major reforms in the Passport Directorate. SOPs were implemented together with statute of time. Within seven days of submission of completed application, passports were delivered to the applicant. The process could be expedited with additional fee.

Public records have become a major impediment in the flow of work. In Punjab, record has been deliberately destroyed or disorganized by the ‘department mafia’. A few honest and conscientious officers who desire to serve and facilitate the public are frustrated due to lack of appropriate record which is tempered, hidden or lost. In Lahore, old credible record is only available at the Lahore Municipal or Metropolitan Corporation as it is called now.

The Excise and Taxation Directorate has started to computerize the property and vehicles record which is a right move. It is time a high-powered committee is formed to streamline all public records in the largest province of the country. In case of the missing files, record can be regenerated with inputs from other departments including utility bills and onsite visits.

Public welfare and common good is no one’s agenda. There is a lot of talk about tree plantation while no mechanism exists for their up keep. Last year we planted 1000 tree saplings on the Ring Road. The Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) was required to water and protect them. Most local varieties require about four cycles of watering before nature takes over yet in most cases even this small effort is not carried out. As I regularly cycle on the side road, so I personally checked the activity. No watering was done by PHA, flimsy excuses were given which all led to speed money. They demanded money for diesel to run their tractors and bowsers.

The normal mode of function does not exist in most government departments where there are no time deadlines. Most countries of the world dismantled colonial systems on gaining independence. Only four nations continued with the old system (Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) for which they remain in the pits. Without appropriate accountability no system can deliver, only ‘Karwais’ (wasted movement) takes place. Colonial Bureaucracy of Pakistan is outdated and sluggish which devours resources with no return. Their performance is pathetic.

Almost all British officers who returned home after independence were compulsorily retired from service as they were deemed unfit to serve at home. There is a clear divide amongst individuals who rule and those who serve. Last week I had an appointment with the Chief Secretary for which I went to the Civil Secretariat. There was no parking place. Close to his office there were four empty spots where I tried to park. I was told that they were reserved for the boss, my immediate response was that he only has one car. Prompt came the reply rest were for his police squad. On my way out, I saw other private cars were parked there, speed money had gotten the job done.

Despite tall claims, police continue to be a disaster in Punjab and Sindh, the two large provinces that have been ruled by the major political parties for decades. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW) an international watchdog of People’s rights, “Pakistan Police were widely regarded amongst the most abusive, corrupt and unaccountable state institutions”. Only speed money can prevent custodial torture. Once a report is filed both the accused and accuser are made to suffer through competition in providing speed money. In order to deal with frivolous police complaints my father always insisted on arresting both parties. Fearing arrest, the complainant usually backed out and the matter would be resolved without speed money for the in-correctable force left behind by the colonial masters to control not to serve the masses.

The last truly elected government of Bhutto in the seventies introduced several people friendly reforms like National Identity Cards and expeditious issuance of passports. After over four decades (1977 to 2018) of political circus another genuinely elected government has introduced reforms to facilitate the masses. Road to Mecca is a big facility for pilgrims, the “Ehsas” programme for the underprivileged under Dr. Sania Nishtar is another commendable initiative and so is the Housing Project for the down trodden. The inherited malaise of speed money will not evaporate overnight but it must be recognized and addressed. Kaptaan desires to raise revenue to take the country out of the debt trap. People are willing to chip in but are afraid of the abrasive and gluttonous state apparatus which like parasites has grown and is used to devouring speed money. This rule must come to an end for the people to grow and prosper like other civilized nations. Crimes of omission have to be made punishable under law to break the shackles of speed money.