The misconduct of political elite and top government
functionaries suggests that Pakistan Administered Jammu & Kashmir (PAJK),
commonly known as Azad (free) Kashmir, is literally free from the burden of all
rules, regulations and laws.
Surprisingly, in a rampant political and
administrative corrupt regime a member of ruling political party has been
disqualified over deception and misconduct.
On October 29 the AJK Minister Chaudhry Rukhsar was ejected from the
parliament when the Supreme Court of the semi-autonomous region, proved him
guilty of submitting forged educational documents to prove his eligibility as a
candidate in the election process. The MLA of the ruling Muslim Conference from
southern Mirpur district had sent bogus certificates of O and A levels of
British educational standards.
In AJK, a few mighty hands never feel shame of
capturing any occasion to seize political and administrative powers by any
means. They do not have an iota of respect to their legal, ethical or social
obligations. The reason being their political survival maintained by close
family ties with high-ups in civil and military bureaucracy. In the presence of
ad-hoc judicial arrangements and a guarded media the accountability mechanism
is hilarious. Lack of an institutional control on corruption and a political
will to prosecute the violators, has turned the region into a haven for opportunists.
The people who sit on the helm of affairs in AJK and
are believed to be the guardian of law, merit and collective well-being of the
masses are also involved in this disgusting race for robbing national funds.
According to recent media reports, the person who is on top ladder of
government hierarchy has allegedly been trying to grab a large part of valuable
government land. He legitimizes his demand asserting that the property has not
been utilized by a government department which oversees the Mangla dam project.
It is the irony of the situation that those who are custodians of people’s
rights they validate their wrong doings by giving cosmetic justifications.
Similarly, several top functionaries in the government
including the prime minister have been criticized for wasting taxpayers’ money
on frequent abroad visits in pretext of highlighting Kashmir cause. Estimates
say that over $100,000 were spent on his abroad visits in recent months in a
situation when domestic economy is crumbling. AJK government has borrowed
enormous funds from the Government of Pakistan to pay the salaries of public
servants. The AJK government is putting salt onto the wounds of hike-ridden
masses by making new political appointments when the already oversized cabinet
has badly failed to deliver in terms of development, employment opportunities,
public health, education and reconstruction after the massive earthquake in
is around 3 million; less than the population of Pakistan’s Rawalpindi
District, whereas the number of ministers and advisors in the government is
much more than its required numbers. The premier’s son who does not possess any
official portfolio has also been the centre of public criticism for enjoying
foreign visits on government funding. Reports have appeared in media that
government workers, having insufficient salaries and humbled by the
unctrollable price hike, want to sell their children. Patients are dying in
hospitals due to non-availability of life saving drugs and vaccines. About
200,000 school children
are studying in torn tents in chilly weather because government failed to
rebuild their schools. Recently, the federal government has diverted more than
£300 million foreign aid sanctioned for 2005 quake victims to a politically motivated
income support program. This is not the
first time that some foreign funding bodies have shown reluctance to materilise
their aid plans through official government channels. The incumbent AJK
government has failed to lobby in Islamabad against this decision.
The head of a foreign
funded project in Azad Kashmir has been terminated by Prime Minister Sardar
Atique who refused to make payment of more than Rs.8 million to a ruling party
worker claimed against some forged bills.
Astonishingly, the deposed official Mr Awan was in China in a regional
review meeting and was busy in lobbying for further assistance for development
sector. Insiders say that staff members at district level in this project are
also prey of permanent threats of removal from job by some ministers and party
workers who demand release of fabricated payments.
The ultimate and
apparent outcome of such illegal and fraudulent practices in the government
would diminish the prospects of future funding in the country. And Pakistani
flood survivors have already paid the price of mishandling of foreign aid by
the corrupt regime which badly affected confidence of donor countries
(The writer is a freelance
journalist and could be contacted at: email@example.com)