Dear Chairman HEC,
Many thanks for your prompt and understanding response on this important subject of state organisations spending tax-payers’ money on celebrating each other’s anniversaries. I am sure that any conscientious person will agree on the blatantly unethical and unlawful nature of this act.
While we both agree that such expenditure should not be incurred, I do not seem to agree when you say that it may be too much to ask the VCs to publicly apologise or to reimburse the amount to state exchequer from their own pocket. I see no reason why any person, should not be able to say even “sorry” after having misused public funds. In a civilised country these VCs would be proceeded against in a court of law for financial irregularities.
If you were to give them clear instructions to follow one of the two options (public apology or personal reimbursement), or to voluntarily opt out from the job, you would have the matter resolved in a few hours (not even days). In doing so, you would be setting up a very high tradition of ethical behaviour and respect for public money. You have already demonstrated that you are capable of taking such a stand when you ordered your name to be removed from the buildings that had been named after you.
I am sending a copy of this letter to many of those VCs who participated in this birthday bash, with a hope that some of them will have the moral courage to rise to the occasion without even waiting for your letter. I hope that those who don’t, will promptly do so on receipt of your formal instructions. That would indeed be a proud day for Pakistan and all its citizens.
Dear Naeem Saheb
I agree with you that such expenditure should not be incurred—While a public apology from the VCs may be too much to ask ,I will try and ensure that if supplements are published in the future they should be largely through private sector donations rather than with university funds—also there is absolutely no need to have so many pages—1 or 2 pages can suffice
I will also make suitable remarks in my public speech on the issue
I will continue to benefit from your positive criticisms of our shortcomings
Kind regards, Atta
Happy birthday to you – at public expense.
I have no issues with birthdays. My next one is just around the bend. I thought it was a good idea to let go of my pretended ‘enlightened moderation’ and organise a grand public celebration. Some one mentioned that government has a special ‘poverty alleviation’ fund that is given to deserving down-trodden citizens so that they too could celebrate their birthdays like all rich people do. It is with these high hopes that I approached a number of Federal Government organisations with a request to sponsor ads for a two page supplement that I want to take out on this occasion. All the federal government departments that I approached (PWD, Port Qasim, KPT, NHA, and PNSC) refused to even accept my application. They said I had to be a British citizen and 52 years old to receive this special favour. I felt most helpless and discriminated. There is no quick way for one to become a British citizen, and there is no easy way to become 52 years old for the second time.
Frustrated with this experience, I decided to register my silent protest by refraining from newspapers for a few days. However I could not resist the unusually heavy and colourful newspaper of this morning, that carried an extra 8 page supplement, to celebrate the third birthday of HEC. While the public sector universities appeared prominently because of their quarter page coloured advertisements, the HEC chairman was conspicuous by his photograph repeated at seven different places.
I always thought that the public sector universities suffered from an acute shortage of funds and ideas. Of course this is no longer true, at least as far as the funding is concerned. Loaded with the taxpayers money, they now have surplus funds and deficit conscience, amply demonstrated by their irrelevant and meaningless quarter page ads, costing in the tune of Rs.100,000 per ad. Let me describe just two of these master pieces. A quarter page coloured ad of Karachi university has two photographs ( VC of KU and the HEC Chairman), with the following words of wisdom sprawled in the middle –“partners in quality education”. The Shah Abdul Latif University takes the cake with another quarter page coloured ad, which besides the standard two photographs has a wishy-washy slogan “Making track of Success”, and signed off (as if it was a personal message of felicitation), by the Vice Chancellor.
Needless to say that every government organisation (and there are hundreds of them), will be older every year by at least one more year. This is not an achievement for which any thing in particular has to be done. It is therefore neither wise nor ethical to spend public money to celebrate these yearly organisational birthdays. Vice Chancellors represent the most respected and enlightened role models of our society. More than any one else one expects them to realise that to spend a hundred thousand rupees of public money in projecting themselves and their boss is simply unethical and unlawful. Judicious use of public money is the first responsibility of any government official. Will the HEC Chairman and the vice chancellors please stand up and publicly apologise for this conduct unbecoming.