By Dr Ghayur Ayub
This term was tossed by a well-known journalist and anchor person Rauf Klasra for the bureaucrats of Pakistan. I agree with him but not all bureaucrats are Zakota Jinns. Clear majority is. Working as director general of health from 1996 to 1999, I came across such Jinns. They were full of arrogance trying to impose their self-centered opinions rather than concentrating selflessly on betterment of Pakistan. Each had personal agenda. If in a meeting, anyone objected to them they would give a shut-up call in a bureaucratic conceit. In the ministry, I was known for my outspoken opinions and used to respond to them in a tit-for-tat manner. For that reason, the health secretary didn’t like me but couldn’t do anything because the health minister supported my work. If it was up to the secretary, he would send me to dungeons.
His wish was fulfilled when Gen Musharraf took over the reign. Immediately, I was removed from the post making me OSD and starting investigation by NAB wherein I faced ISI, FIA, CBR, and Banking Council. 11 paras were framed against me. My friends advised me to go underground. I refused as I wanted to face the charges. I prepared replies without any help from lawyers which put me under immense pressure. I found myself lonely as most of my ‘friends’ disappeared fearing getting in trouble. The Zakota Jinns tried to break me and take away my dignity. It was then, I found solace in Bari Imam shrine and my spiritual mentor there helped me getting inner strength fortifying me from within.
One Friday evening, I got a message that the army task force was coming the following Monday to arrest me. Worried and in hurry, I went to see my spiritual mentor. When I told him about the situation, he got annoyed on my defeated attitude. I explained that I was not afraid of going to jail, it was the stigma attached to it which would disgrace my family especially my children. After a few wise words, he patted my back and asked me to take a glass of cold milk and relax as nothing bad would happen. It was 12 mid night when I left his place contented. Mondays after Mondays came and gone, no one came to arrest me. I stayed on ECL list as the NAB officials kept grilling me twice a week at their office in Rawalpindi. After two and a half years of grilling, I was cleared by the NAB.
It was then, I realized how powerful these Zakota Jinns were. The new health minister of Musharraf was from Queta and a friend. We remained in touch in his early days but after he was briefed by the Zakota Jinns, he changed and stopped taking my calls or talking to me. I wanted to tell him that I was in the process of implementing health reforms through a Health Policy which my team had prepared with help of WHO. In addition, I wanted to talk about my drug policy which was poor-friendly as we added important points from drug policies of France, South Africa, Cuba. and Australia.
Moreover, I wanted to inform him that I was working on three important health projects which would help Pakistan counter terrorism. One of those projects was related to alleviating poverty through Basic Development Needs Program of WHO. The second was related to involving Mosques and Madrasas in out-reach preventive health activities and starting outpatient departments and daycare surgery in major madrasas and mosques. The third was to establish a computerized Data Bank of finger prints, blood samples for grouping and DNA with help of 44,000 Lady Health Workers team spread in every village of Pakistan. I wanted to emphasize that those activities would help Pakistan counter terrorism in three different ways never tried before anywhere in the world. The Zakota Jinns who became the eyes and ears of the health minister of military regime killed all those important activities.
These Jinns are always active in every regime. Having said that, not all the bureaucrats are self-centered. There are some good upright people among them, but they are never given a chance to climb. For example, during Benazir’s government, a top man with help of crony Zakota Jinns started interfering in her government and soon he got the title of 10%. A very good friend of mine, Riaz Hussain Naqvi, was a member of CBR. Among the bureaucrats, he was known for his integrity, uprightness and honesty. A file was sent to him which needed his approval. It was full of irregularities. On enquiry, he found the top man was behind it. He refused to sign.
One day, he received a message that BB wanted to see him at PM secretariat. When he entered the room, he saw the prime minister was sitting at the top end of a mahogany table with a few of her ministers and Zakota Jinns taking the side chairs. Naqvi sahib took the empty chair at the bottom end. She greeted him and pushed a file on the table towards him. The file slid smoothly and ended in front of him. He leaned forward and picked it up. It was the same file he already had rejected. He slowly closed it and pushed it back towards her saying he wouldn’t sign it because there were irregularities in it. As the file was sliding back on the smooth surface of the table towards the prime minister the jaws of Zakota Jinns dropped. It was the courageous and upright bureaucrat Naqvi sahib who could say no to the mighty one, not the Zakota Jinns. That night he was transferred from the post.
Linking the subject matter with the present-day Pakistan, we all know that the prime minister Imran Khan is known for his personal integrity, honesty and uprightness. But according to news, he is gathering Zakota Jinns around him. If that is the case, he would soon be caught in a Zakota web created by these Jinns. I am sure there would be a few honest, upright and competent bureaucrats with likes of late Riaz Hussain Naqvi (God bless his soul) who can help him take the country out of mess created by the power-hungry Zakota Jinns. Why not pick up those instead of picking up the same old self-centred Zakota Jinns?
(The author is London based geo-political and social analyst and express his views without being prejudice.)