Many things remain a pipedream in Gilgit-Baltistan and on top of them is good governance. Gilgit-Baltistan is the so-called province of Pakistan where public sector employments are put on sale openly and where a shepherd becomes teacher by greasing the palms of those at the helms of affairs. In short, if you have money at hand and right connections in power corridors, you can get whatever you want come what may.
This is also a unique ‘province’ where contracts for projects are distributed and strangely where a government adviser himself declares in public that members of the legislative assembly are working for secret agencies.
This is also a province where a sitting minister comes up with the announcement that the administration and agencies themselves are spoiling the peace of the region. This is also a unique province where its chief minister announces with pride that about 2,800 people under his very nose are on the payroll of secret agencies. And whatever vacuum was left in the region has been filled by the senseless killing of innocent people due to rampant sectarianism.
Besides, loot and plunder of resources has been on the rise and even posts of teachers are on the sale. Even fake degrees are on the sale now. More tragic than all these irregularities and misdeed is the fact that all these are happening under the very nose of the chief minister and most of the cases the government functionaries are even patronizing the perpetrators. In Gilgit city, there are reports that millions of rupees are being distributed among selected authorities and government officers in the name of internal security.
During the last about three years, thousands of jobs were doled out without following the due process of law and rules. In just one case relating to about four thousand inductions in the Public Works Department, a committee consisting of members of the legislative assembly was formed which worked day and night and prepared a report recommending that all the undeserving and surplus employees of the organization should be sent home. But is now over six months since the committee submitted the report to the chief minister for action but he has not even touched it.
Besides, it is said that contracts worth billions of rupees were awarded to favorite contractors without following rules and set procedures. It is perhaps unique in the whole world that payments are made to contractors before they even complete half of the projects. As a result, dozens of contractors have disappeared from the scene after receiving the payments and without touching the projects causing billions of rupees loss to the exchequer and inordinate delay to the projects.
On the other hand, the government kitty is said to be empty and the authorities are unable to find a solution to the issue of completing the unfinished projects as fiscal year will end on June 30. According to reports, 32 contractors in Chilas were found to have received payments without completing the projects. The law came into action but further probe showed that all the fault was with the authorities of PWD and hence the matter ended without any result. Such type of favoritism on part of the government and lack of accountability has eroded public confidence in the government. If the authorities of PWD are guilty of wrongdoing why action is not being taken against them and why they were being made sacred cows? This is just one example of corruption in the region and shows that if the government is not involved in all cases of corruption and malpractices, it is surely not serious in dealing with the menace with an iron hand.
There have been tall claims after claims by the government, especially by the chief minister, to eliminate corruption from society and in this regard different agencies and forums like national Accountability Bureau (NAB) Federal Investigation Agency and the chief minister’s inspection commission and public accounts committee were formed and put to action but so far the result has remained zero. Now it seems that the purpose of taking all these steps and forming these bodies was not to end corruption but to provide lucrative employment to the near and dear one of the rulers.
It is the misfortune of the PPP - or the masses on whose name it comes to power with lots of promises- that it has always promoted corruption and given a free hand to corrupt elements and plunderers. We have seen that whenever the PPP government is packed, its leaders are put behind bars and corruption cases registered against them. However, due to loopholes in the judicial system, most of them come out ‘triumphant’, claiming to be victims of politically motivated adjudications. But in reality, they have always done more harm to the national interest than the cases actually show. It is another matter, that the leadership of the party never learned a lesson from their misdeeds and continue, with even more vigor, their misdeeds after coming to power again.
It is sure that Chief Minister Mehdi Shah would have to answer the corrupt practices and irregularities his close colleagues and near and dear ones have started in Skardu. This is despite the fact that some well wishers of the chief minister have been advising him to bring transparency to the working of his government. Nobody knows where the Rs3 billion given to the region under the prime minister package have gone.
Despite the passage of a law to form public service commission and service tribunal over one year back, the government has done nothing in this regard, because the government says its coffers are empty for such important projects. But when it comes to making payment to contractors, the government seems not short of money in dishing out even advance payments.
Wherever we look in Gilgit-Baltistan, we find hosts of problems and issues confronting the masses – from law and order to unemployment, target killing, poverty to absence of development works. It is not that there is lack of resources but the fact is that there is no political will on part of the rulers who are busy in filling their own pockets as much as possible without caring for the welfare of the public.
About Author: Dj Mathal is from Gilgit Baltistan (Yasin) and is Editor at Baang Sahar News.He/She can be reached through email@example.com