Voice of the People

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Articles and letters may be edited for the purposes of clarity and space. They are published in good faith with a view to enlightening all the stakeholders. However, the contents of these writings may not necessarily match the views of the newspaper.

Putin’s commendable remarks

During his recent annual press conference in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that insulting the (Last) Holy Prophet (PBUH) is not artistic freedom. He termed insults to the Holy Prophet as ‘violation of religious freedom and the violation of the sacred feelings of people who profess Islam.’ He also criticised the publication of blasphemous sketches of the Holy Prophet in French Magzine Charlie Hebdo. Prime Minister Imran Khan welcomed Putin’s statement in a Tweet.

It’s a matter of fact that Muslims have emotional connection with their religion and its founder. That’s why they cannot bear blasphemy of Holy Prophet (PBUH) and its religion in the name of expression of freedom. But despite that some elements blaspheme against Islam and its founder in order to tease Muslims. Sometimes it causes violation. The attack on office of French Magazine Charlie Hebdo is its proof. Putin’s recent opinion pleased Muslim world and Muslim media highly appreciated him.

Putin’s stance about freedom of expression is really commendable and for those leaders, who support the idea of ‘unlimited freedom of expression’ is imitable. Everything is liked and admired in its limitations, so freedom of expression must have its restrictions. I think the time has come to set strict laws in order to limit so called freedom of expression, so that no one might dare to attack on respect of any sacred personality and on any religion.

NAEEM UR REHMAAN

Karachi

Failure to balance the budget

It is an internationally accepted norm, that “it is not the business of government to do Business”, because the very concept of free market enterprise is based on competition, equal opportunities, transparency etc. Insider Trading is considered a financial crime in all developed countries where there is rule of law. Unfortunately, when powerful individuals or state institutions enjoying immense clout and influence within the corridors of power, get involved in commercial business ventures, it is unethical and irregular. Such Conflicts of Interest are not allowed in Islam which was emphasized when Hazrat Abu Bakr (Rahmatllah) on becoming Caliph discontinued his flourishing trade. Revenue collection by the state is so low that salaries, perks and pensions of paid employees is funded from foreign and domestic debts.

In Pakistan, almost 65% of commercial business is owned by cartels registered as Trusts and Foundations, enjoying Tax Exemptions, State Subsidies etc. This anomaly leaves about 35 % of business enterprises which are subject to direct taxation.

Foundations and Trusts enjoying tax exemptions and subsidies should be non-commercial ventures. Paid or elected public office holders and institutions are not expected to do business while holding public office. There were 2.178 million individuals and companies in the Active Tax Payers List for 2021 which is almost a 30% decrease from 3.12 million ATP list for 2020.

Such financial irregularities and violations of established ethics, has landed Pakistan into a crisis, which threatens the state’s capacity to protect its sovereignty under pressure of international donor and financial institutions. In the developed world, major cities are self-reliant, raising their revenues from tax collection and sale of lands etc at prevailing market rates to fund their development budget, building roads/bridges, providing subsidized education and health to resident citizens, instead of relying on federal dole-outs.

MALIK TARIQ ALI

Lahore

Electricity bills

If the government thought that increasing consumers’ electricity bills many times over by sliding fuel adjustment charges into them – especially since the additional charges are at times more than 200 times the original bill – would not immediately trigger a harsh reaction, then it just did not have its hand on the pulse of the people; which ought to be unforgivable for a ruling party in the present circumstances.

Results of LB elections reflect the harsh sentiments of the people of the KP. The recent drubbing in the KP local body polls should have been a strong reminder for the government that it has taken its eye off the ball. In terms of economic management, especially such policies can only be termed ridiculous, more so because they are not communicated to those who are going to be most affected by them ahead of time.

High inflation, particularly in food items, and insufficient job opportunities have already pushed much of the country’s population against the wall. And for the government to resort to such tactics to inflate its own balance sheet reeks of a disturbing disregard for the life and livelihood of the people. Yet the PM chose to blame wrongly distributed tickets for the loss, not the government’s policies and how they are rubbing the people the very wrong way.

The whole situation becomes that much darker when you realise that these charges and price hikes are only the tip of the iceberg and the people will have more to lament once the government presents the much-hyped mini-budget in the NA as a necessary prior condition for reviving the IMF programme.

It will withdraw billions worth of subsidies and impose billions worth of more taxes, making the life of the people, especially those at the very bottom of the food chain, even more miserable. Despite blaming previous regimes the government’s spokepersons should confess the ground realities and make realistic & effective policies to relieve the public.

MUNAWAR SIDDIQUI

Lahore

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