My mali has been giving me no end of trouble these days, as he is absenting himself from work two to three days in a week for the past many weeks. Ordinarily, the person should have been fired by now, but I cannot do so because if anyone has to be fired, it should be those, who have failed in their public service to provide good governance to him and millions of people like him. The poor man came to me about five weeks ago and asked me to write an application to the DCO Islamabad on his behalf. It transpired that one of his children had not been registered at birth with the Union Council and now needed something called a Form 'B for the purpose. This form would enable the childs name to appear in records and allow him to move on in life. To me, the task appeared very simple and one that could be accomplished in a single or at the most two visits to the concerned office. I had, however, not taken into account that the 'land of the pure was infected with dishonest, inefficient and corrupt public servants at every level, who were sworn to work against the very principles that our Founding Father had clearly enunciated for this nation to prosper. I watched as the weeks passed and a citizen was mercilessly paraded back and forth between offices with no Form 'B in sight. Two days ago, on being asked by if he had got the document, the now distraught man broke down and replied that he could have got the elusive piece of paper in a matter of hours, if only he had the money or the inclination to grease a few palms. I was now left with two options to help him - the first of tainting myself by giving him the money so he could fill the 'gaping maws sitting behind government desks or second, call up a few people that in my reckoning could help the man. I chose the latter option and soon realised that nobody in their right minds pays heed to a retired senior citizen with no nuisance value. The other day, I saw a sign at a government office brazenly displaying the words 'one window operation - a desolate, single window with no service. In my constant search for subjects to write on, I decided to visit one such window. What followed can best be described as a game of 'pinball with me being ricocheted from one desk to another, till the day was done. And while I watched, a gentleman walked into the executive office at the rear end of, what could best be described as a jungle of file laden tables, pakoras and tea. He was greeted with undisguised deference followed by a flurry of orders and minutes later, I saw him leaving with his work done. I am told that this resourceful individual was carrying with him a remarkable magical talisman a family connection with somebody high up in the government hierarchy. As a senior citizen and a pensioner, I have to fill a form and deposit it in the national treasury every month. One look at this document is sufficient to indicate that it has been designed by a moron, who considers simplicity, brevity and clarity as useless virtues. I then have to procure the necessary number of revenue stamps from a post office to successfully deposit the form in order to receive my monthly pittance from the government. I often wonder, as to when I would be able to do this, while resting my aching bones at a single point, manned by a smiling helpful face, who would wish me well before bidding me goodbye - perhaps never. 'One Window reminded me of another place where the concerned department had placed a dilapidated table and chair placed in the verandah. The chair was occupied by a decrepit looking individual happily engaged in picking his nose and the table displayed a small sign that ominously advertised the spot as 'One Window Service. I burst out laughing as I walked by, refraining from pointing out the 'blooper so that others might enjoy this jest with the English language. Someone must have done what I did not, as on my next visit, the table, chair, the nose picking individual and the sign were all gone. There was a time in the early years after Independence that there were no 'One Windows in government offices - instead there were doors that opened to all and sundry. Many of these doors led to dedicated public servants inspired by Jinnahs vision. Then this vision began to be blurred by lack of ethics and moral courage, corruption and a desire to rise no matter what the cost. It was then that the doors of good governance shut themselves and 'One Windows opened. An elderly acquaintance of mine, who moved to the UK many years ago and then returned to his roots after his retirement, was asked as to how did this 'One Window work in the UK? He looked at me and said: They dont need that 'Darned One Window because all their windows serve their public. n The writer is a freelance columnist.