Orthodox Mindset of Bureaucracy

As a package of grant, a car was to be provided by European Union (EU) for exclusive use of project director.  In one of his site visits, the representative of the Union discussed the matter with me and asked for the car of my choice, particularly realizing that I didn’t have a reliable transport. The one that was earmarked for me and approved by government of Sindh was purchased and ruthlessly used by everyone in fish harbour authority, as it was anybody’s car during the absence of project director. By the time I was enrolled, it was a junk car and would undergo break downs every now and then. I proposed to the EU representative for procurement of a four-wheel sturdy jeep for me, which he didn’t agree.

He argued that a jeep was not a comfortable transport and it was not required either, as there was no rugged terrain in the project area necessitating a jeep. I couldn’t tell him my justification for the jeep. But in the heart of my heart, I apprehended that if a luxurious car was purchased for me, it would probably not stay with me and would be hijacked by my superiors. The Union representative was a German and he proposed either Mercedes or a BMW for me. And I told him that if at all a car was to be provided, then I would prefer to have a Volkswagen, considering the chances that it would not be attractive as much as the other two. And the possibility was that I might succeed in holding it to myself. The representative curiously looked at me and agreed to a Volkswagen Passat. 

On the day the car arrived, my boss Abdul Aziz Ashrafi said that he would accompany me to get the delivery of car. And my goodness me, I had almost fainted at the first glimpse of car. I had thought of an ugly looking foxy beetle, that I had as my first car when I had come to Karachi, the kind of a car for which you will even have to lure even a thief to steal it. But this was a magnificent car and the first of its kind in Karachi. In appearance it was even better-looking than the Mercedes or BMW. I was afraid that my superiors would take the car.  Ashrafi said that he will keep this car for a few days and will give it back to me in a week’s time. And I knew very well that he will not keep the promise, but I had no option but to concede to his insatiable lust for holding that car for himself.

Secretary food and agriculture Sindh

When secretary food and agriculture Sindh saw the car, he told Ashrafi that he was not entitled to have such a luxurious car. And Ashrafi kept on explaining and howling that it was a project car for project director and had nothing to do with entitlement. But the damage was done and the car moved out from my office to Sindh secretariat.  The news of a glamorous car spread like a wild fire and the Sindh minister for food and agriculture, summoned the car at his house for himself. From that day on until I left fish harbour authority, I would only see this car on the day it would require refueling, as repair and maintenance of the car was to be done through the funds allocated for the project.

All those days I grumbled continuously about Ashrafi taking the car from me. And Ashrafi would do the same for secretary food. The Union representative was observing all this but he couldn’t say a word and never talked to me on this subject ever again, although at times he muttered that fuel cost should not be reflected in project cost. But in Rome, do as Romans do. And we do it this way in Pakistan.  No wonder, we are reeling behind and not progressing to keep pace with the world.

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