Today another close friend, who was known for his passionate defence of anything Pakistani, has bid adieu to the land of his birth and moved with his family to Canada, becoming another digit amongst the increasing numbers that are leaving, what is no more the land of their dreams. The reasons for this Exodus are that it has become almost impossible earn an honest living through entrepreneurship and business in the face of unimaginable corruption and lack of government.

A close acquaintance, who runs a franchised international food chain business in Lahore was astounded one day when a Lesco official walked into his establishment and arrogantly demanded to see the owner. In a tone that said a million things about the culture prevailing in, what for all purposes was a public service provider, he informed the owner that the electricity bill for the premises had not been paid and he had come to terminate the connection. The individual was shown the current bill and it was pointed out that the due date for payment was still four days away. The ‘power company gangster’ saw the bill and walked out of the building, but not before he had disconnected the electricity.

In another incident, the aforementioned gentleman received a list of seven offences from the Labour Department, including one saying that his list of employees had not been displayed on the ‘appropriate board’ and therefore he was being served with an arrest warrant.

Some days later, a gentleman from the Cantonment Water Supply Board sauntered into his establishment with a notice stating a hefty amount. Investigation revealed that other establishments within the same building had received much lighter bills. This time the victim adopted the established route and met the top official in the concerned department through a reference. He was treated with uncharacteristic courtesy and told not to worry as his bill would be rationalized.

I may mention here that this particular gentleman is known for his single minded disposition to pay taxes and not feed the gaping maws of corrupt departments that pay regular visits to his premises. As I sat talking to this avid Pakistani, I could sense that his passion had begun to show signs of erosion, thanks to the rogues, who run the affairs of departments mandated to provide utilities and services to the business sector.

I don’t know whether it was providence or just coincidence that as I drove to the airport the same evening, I happened to glance up at the hill bearing the words ‘Unity, Faith, Discipline’ in huge metallic letters – letters that were jaded and unpolished, just like our national character.Many thoughts crossed my mind during the remaining short distance to the Islamabad International Airport, when there was a frustrated outburst from my driver. I saw multiple lines of vehicles, almost a kilometre long, waiting to enter the airport in a chaotic muddle, with everyone vying to be the first one in. It was then that the large metal letters on the hill flashed through my mind and I saw the last of these three profound words come tumbling down.

I am reluctant to answer a particular number on my cellphone in view of the fact that though I want to, I don’t have the wherewithal to help the poor man, who lost everything he had saved at the hands of a group of con artists while returning from a wedding near Bahawalnagar. It would have been a simple matter for him to walk up to the local police station and lodge a report had it been any other place except the land of the pure. I am putting this particular incident in this week’s column in the hope that it is read by some honest and concerned police official, who can help poor Abdul Sattar of a village near Faqirwali, recover his lost valuables.

I went to the Pakistan International Office in Blue Area a few days ago to book my passage to Karachi and was horrified to see a young man in airline uniform reclining at his work station in a manner which was both offensive and unprofessional. This person, who was perhaps one the thousands inducted on political grounds was oblivious of the fact that officers senior to him in age and perhaps appointment were busy handling customers many of whom were females.

A few days ago, I approached the police barrier near Saudi Pak Towers to find that two other cars had come up from behind and sandwiched me in a bid to reach the point first. Unable to do anything but slam down on the brake, I let the morons involved, carry on. I stopped the car after crossing the check point and advised the poor overworked man on duty that his job would be made easier and speedier, if he and his colleagues would not allow vehicles to mill around at the point of entry. He looked at me, shrugged and expressed his inability to do so.

The mention of the check point and the persons manning them at risk of their lives forces me to reiterate what I have said in many of my previous columns – will someone in authority please see that the uniforms and turnout of the police personnel is prim, clean and proper and not wrinkled and filthy - for aren’t these the people who are a critical part of our national front office? But then perhaps the state of their uniforms, haircut and general demeanor is a true reflection of what we have become and how we have tainted this beautiful piece of God’s earth to become the land of the not so pure.

    The writer is a freelance             columnist.