It would have come as a surprise to the people of Pakistan and the paid civil and public office holders to hear that the previous US President, Obama, while talking to a journalist, stating that the grocery bill used at White House is deducted from his salary every month. He also stated that a President bears all personal expenses when on private holiday visits with his family, other than security and transportation which the state mandates as necessary for national security interests. The argument that democracy in Pakistan is evolving and those holding public offices should not be expected to govern as they do in US and other democratic states holds no substantive justification.

Even 1400 years ago these code of ethics of governance, such as no conflicts of interests, no misuse of state funds and strict accountability without any immunity, were rigidly followed by Islamic nations. The luxurious lifestyle of paid and elected public office holders at state expense is a legacy of Colonial Raj, a practice which the British do not follow in their own sovereign country. It is surprising that every public office holder proceeds to travel on state expense. The large entourage accompanying the PM or President, including members of his personal staff, are abusing state funds of a country where patients die on floors of hospitals because of the lack of beds and other infrastructure. Allotment of land and prime real estate to paid servants of state for performing duties for which they are paid for is nothing but gross injustice and abuse of power. Regularizing irregularities beneficial to a few, such as tax amnesty schemes, appointments in violation of merit, pardoning loan defaulters and plea bargain by the NAB are morally or ethically not justified, but rather are an abuse of discretionary powers.

MALIK TARIQ ALI,

Lahore, February 3.