This shameful episode has exposed the insatiable greed of our elected and paid elite to retain gifts received by them in their varying capacities of holding public offices of importance. None of them would have received these gifts, while in service or post-retirement, if they did not hold these public offices, representing the people of Pakistan, from foreign countries they visit officially.
Yet, starting from Ayub Khan onwards, who chose to retain Ghandhara Motors, gifted by the US government, this greed seems to inflict almost everyone, with very few exceptions. It is time that laws are legislated that nobody should be allowed, irrespective of the public office he/she holds, paid or elected, to exercise the option of retaining them, after payment of a nominal fraction of a reassessed value, which is far below market value. There is absolutely no justification that these new expensive gifts are assessed at a depreciated value.
At the most, a VVIP in office may be allowed to retain a maximum of three items, during his whole tenure, with a market value below Rs30,000 just as a token of remembrance. It is the state of Pakistan which is being gifted and which in turn has to give such gifts to visiting heads of state and public office holders. Those holding public offices are honoured and compensated by the national exchequer for services rendered.
Unfortunately, this abuse of power, whether in the form of allotment of state land, tax exemptions etc. has been stretched too far and this gross irregularity has been regularized by those who are beneficiaries. It is not just unethical but a violation of the principle of conflicts of interest, which our religion has stressed to adhere strictly.
MALIK TARIQ ALI,