Caught in the current


There is probably a special place in hell for ministers, secretaries, under secretaries and other irrelevant sociocrats who are a burden on the national exchequer. Especially those with the nerve to shirk their official responsibilities during times of crisis. Let’s face it, the few government employees who remain committed to working diligently during our darkest hours bring the rest of the civil service a bad name. It is unsportsmanlike and against the basic principles of bureaucratic camaraderie to embarrass one’s fellow man by making him seem incompetent by doing more work in one working day than one’s autocratic brother may accomplish in a working week.
After all, according to Sir Humphrey’s edict on civil service protocol, a humble public servant must not overly tax himself, as the fate of millions rides upon his ability to discharge his duties in the most relaxed and cool-minded manner. I mean, imagine, if in the heat of the moment, one fell stroke of an overworked undersecretary’s pen relegates the population of Badin to the recesses of the aidless pit. Imagine the repercussions, the reprisals and the horror when the noblemen (and women) of that area discover that their constituency, the same place where they get their votes from, has been left unaided! You can be sure that there will be hell to pay for such over-efficient-ness.
El Jefe Zardari too has had it with these efficient do-gooders, which is why he chose to wade into the floods himself rather than having a lowly minister do it on his behalf. That would’ve been impersonal, unleaderlike and expected of him. But El Jefe is anything but predictable. Guile is his middle name and like his namesake from the critically acclaimed Street Fighter series, Senor Zardari is a precision-oriented fighting machine capable of defending himself on multiple fronts at multiple platforms, almost simultaneously. So when the president moved camp to his humble Clifton abode and led the faithful in prayers and meetings so long that more midnight oil had to be imported from Dubai, it was all but obvious that not much would be accomplished.
But what good are accomplishments if no one is keeping minutes? In the spirit of good governance and transparency, El Presidente allowed the media unprecedented access to his personal meetings and monitored the situation from his personal chambers inside the heavily fortified Bilawal House, at great personal risk I might add (anyone who has seen Clifton after a major deluge can vouch for the perilous and foolhardy nature of the president’s actions).
But as it is wont to do, the media overstayed its welcome and had to be shooed out after asking too many impertinent and impetuous questions that cast shadows of doubt over the aid delivery mechanism and the criteria for selected areas to target, mostly because the civil servants who were supposed to have the answers were at Sindh Club, having tea and scones. And as can be expected, the headlines in the next day’s newspapers were hardly flattering. One right wing publication went as far as to insinuate that the president was “unhappy” with the government of Sindh and had, in fact, moved camp office to Karachi because he could not “trust” the dopey officials in charge to do a good job.
Of course, none of this is actually true and Qaim Ali Shah (a native of Mohenjodaro circa 812 BC) has done his best to deny any such “trust deficit”. Instead, he has overplayed the importance of the recent visit to India by the venerable Makhdoom of Hala, terming it “a clear indicator of the wizened man’s loyalties”. But whatever his allegiances, it has to be said that Makhdoom Sahib has got the right idea: since it is India that is causing the floods, they can stop them too. But in doing so, they would be able to complete the Kishenganga Dam, aka Operation Starve Pakistan! Thankfully though, this nefarious design has been stamped out by the International Court of Arbitration (at least for now). At last, Pakistan’s lawyers can celebrate winning an actual case rather than just a bet on a cricket match.
You may ask what is wrong with any of these things, and the answer is, simply, nothing. There is nothing wrong with doing anything wrong. It’s just wrong to get caught. And
we have ministers for that sort of thing.