Mr. Prime Minister, Don’t Insult My Intelligence

Posted on March 21, 2009
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Economy & Development, Law & Justice, People, Politics, Society
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Adil Najam
Let me confess that I have a certain fondness for our Prime Minister, Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani.

He may not be an orator or even the take-charge leader that we needed, but there seems to be a certain air of genteelness and dignity about him. You get the sense- or, at least have the hope, that even if he does not always do the right thing, he would recognize and cringe at that which is obviously bad – and, maybe, even act on his convictions sometimes.

I still invest hopes in him, but I realize that I may well be wrong on all the above. But maybe this is why I have taken such affront to a newsitem in Daily Times that is otherwise unremarkable, even normal in what goes for politics in Pakistan.

Here is the gist:

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani may be one of the poorest members of the National Assembly (MNAs), as his furniture, fittings and others items of personal use are worth only Rs 200,000, and he owns no other property.

I know, I know. “Nothing special here.” “These numbers are just numbers. Things that you file. Khanna purri.” “No one believes them. No one is meant to.” “And, everyone does the same.” “It means nothing at all.”

But wait. Please. At some point you get tired of your intelligence being insulted. Do our politicians think that we are all idiots? Why do they behave as if we do? And, pray tell me, why do we act as if we are?

I cannot imagine that even Mr. Gillani believes that people will believe him on this. If he does, we are in even bigger trouble than we thought we were in.

Maybe he thinks no one will care, because everyone does this. The scary part is, he may be right. But just because everyone does it, does not make it right.

Maybe this has more to do with how we (mis-)count rural wealth because of our crazy tax rules and land reform issues. But, please, give me a break. His entire property is Rs. 200,000 (US$2500)! If it is so, Mr. Prime Minister, please let us know. We at ATP will like to send you a little contribution from our ads revenue!

I realize that I getting a little too excited about this, but sometimes these things just get to you and you hold your head and say, “Why, O God, Why?” What do you – or he – think would have happened if he had given a real number. Would he have lost the election? Would he have been disqualified? Would people who voted for him have voted differently? Does he really think that poor people voted for him because thy think he is poor? “Why, O God, Why?”

I had better wrap up this post before I get even more agitated about this than I am.So, first, a little more detail from the Daily Times on Mr. Yousuf Raza Gillani’s wealth:

Details of the assets and liabilities submitted with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) have revealed the premier does not own any plots, apartments, commercial buildings or agriculture properties. He also has no business capital. His declaration states he brought no remittances from outside Pakistan, including bank drafts, or machinery. He has no investments in the country, and apart from the official motorcade, Gilani also does not own any personal motor vehicle.

The prime minister’s statement declared that 200 tolas of jewellery had been gifted to him by his parents at his wedding, but did not mention whether he or his wife owned it. It said he held Rs 8.5 million in a bank account following the sale of inherited property in Multan, and had retained Rs 989,734, which were frozen by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in 2001. The statement of assets, submitted by Gilani on September 27, 2008, also reveals that he has no liabilities, loans or mortgages.

Obviously, he is not the only one. I rant about him, because he is the Prime Minister. Another one worth ranting about is the “Maulana” – Mr, Fazlur Rahman – who would have us believe that he is the custodian of all our moralities. One assumes that Maulana Sahib does not think that lying is a good thing. If so, can he please explain the following from the Daily Times:

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman is also among the poorer leaders of the country, as details of his declared assets reveal he owns no private vehicle. He has no business capital in or outside Pakistan, nor any investments. He has also declared that he has only Rs 3,000 in his bank accounts.

The JUI-F chief declared that he has a one-fifth share in his family’s house in Dera Ismail Khan, which is worth Rs 100,000. He also has a residence in DI Khan worth Rs 2 million and a 5-kanal plot worth Rs 500,000. The other assets declared by Fazl include 25 tolas of jewellery, furniture and articles of personal use worth Rs 50,000.

The assets declared by Fazl’s younger brother, Maulana Attaur Rehman, who is currently tourism minister, reveal that he owns one-fifth share in inherited property, worth Rs 100,000. He has no other property or business investments in or outside the country. Attaur Rehman has declared he has no bank account anywhere despite him not only being an MNA, but also a federal minister. He said he has no private vehicle, and his furniture and articles of personal use are worth Rs 20,000. His wife owns 50 tolas of jewellery.

As I said, maybe I am making to much of something that is not realy a big deal. But if you if you forever ignore the “small deals” you end up so getting used to things that you ignore even the “big deals” when they happen. Moreover, I am not an idiot, and I woudl really really appreciate if our politicians stopped insulting my intelligence!

22 responses to “Mr. Prime Minister, Don’t Insult My Intelligence”

  1. Bumsqueak says:

    “But if you if you forever ignore the

  2. Sohaib says:

    Quote from Daily Times article: “He has also declared that he has only Rs 3,000 in his bank accounts.”

    Hehe. Clearly Maulana sahab does not believe in the riba-based banking system and operates with cash only. :)

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