Child labour and parasitic elite – 10 Apr 2023

Pakistan’s escape from disaster lies in dismantling extra government ministries and parasitic commissions and bureaus

A parasite is an organism that receives nourishment or advantage from another, without giving any useful benefit to the host and often causing harm in return. In an identical manner, Pakistan, consumed by its own parasitic bureaucracy, has been rendered lifeless, helpless and penniless. A hugely inept, callous and resource-sucking bureaucracy has reduced Pakistan to a country best defined by default, disorder and dysfunctionality.

We know very little about Pakistan. We have no idea of the number of children born in the last 5 years, as most of them were never registered. We have no idea of those who died in the last 5 years, as the death registration rate is less than 40%. We have no idea of the number of ghost pensioners, although our pension bill has crossed Rs609 billion. We have no idea of the number of out-of-school children except that they now exceed the number of in-school children. We have no idea of the extent of child labour or child marriages, except what we are periodically told by the foreign NGOs.

The last Child Labour Survey in Pakistan was carried out in 1996 — exactly 27 years ago. More recently, a citizen decided to use the ‘right to information’ law to ask the Sindh Bureau of Statistics an unambiguous question, “Please provide a copy of the latest completed survey on Child Labour in Pakistan.” The Bureau went into a deep coma. Finally the matter was converted into an appeal and a notice was issued by the Sindh Information Commission to the Bureau to comply or face the consequences.

The Bureau of Statistics in its written response admitted that “No Child Labour Survey was conducted after 1996.” Thus, for the last 3 decades, the children of Pakistan have been considered irrelevant and unworthy of even a basic count that could give us some idea of their numbers, misery, occupations, hazards and broken dreams. This is just one dimension of how the bureaucracy has mistreated the children of Pakistan. The three decades of slumber however did not stop the Bureau of Statistics from purchasing and stockpiling an unmatched inventory of government vehicles for its own officials.

Sponging on the taxpayers, the Director Bureau of Statistics acquired a Rs15 million 2800cc fuel guzzler, a Toyota Hilux Revo, further depleting the resources that ought to have gone to alleviate the misery of the poor. As if there were no tomorrow, the department went on to amass a total of 21 official vehicles, seven of them purchased only in the financial year 2021-22. No wonder Sindh alone has about 25,000 of the 150,000 government vehicles now considered a birthright (read bribe) for every bureaucrat. An unmistakable correlation between this motivated burglary, the rampant child labour and those dying in ration stampedes cannot be a mere coincidence.

A recent study of correlation between Departmental budgets and the salary drawn by the Departmental Head revealed some astonishing trends. The Sindh Child Protection Authority, a department meant to protect the rights of children, has an annual budget of Rs73 million, one-tenth of which is consumed only in salary, allowances and perks of just one individual i.e. its Director General. Likewise, Rs25 million or 35% of the entire Rs70 million annual budget of the National Commission of Human Rights is spent on the salary and allowances of just one individual i.e. the Chairperson NCHR. One after the other, a clear pattern begins to emerge. The entire resources of our country are funneled and sucked away by a small group of self-serving scavengers.

Pakistan’s only option to escape a total disaster lies in dismantling half of its government ministries and almost all of its parasitic commissions and bureaus. They siphon resources and add no value. All 150,000 government cars and 200,000 TV sets ought to be withdrawn from government offices and sold in the market. The British who ruled us for 200 years have no TV sets in government offices and operate with mere 86 government vehicles. Can a bankrupt and drowning Pakistan not learn a simple sane lesson?

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