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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Defying logic and reason By Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

MULLAH Naseeruddin, the sardonic sage, once decided that he could make his donkey survive without fodder because it was proving expensive and troublesome. In spite of objections he began reducing the fodder daily by a fistful. This continued for quite some time until one day a dejected Mullah told people that the foolish donkey died just as it was getting used to living without fodder.

Slowly and inexorably the prices of commodities are going beyond the reach of the majority of people. A few statistics will help explain the acuteness of the food inflation problem. Figures comparing the prices of some essentials in 1999 with those of 2007 are self-explanatory. The price of a 2.5 litre Dalda ghee tin rose from Rs173 to Rs275, a 59 per cent increase, while loose-ghee prices skyrocketed by 127 per cent from Rs40 to Rs91. Significantly, only the poor use loose ghee.Fresh milk rose from Rs22 to Rs34, a 54 per cent rise. Irri-6 rice jumped from Rs12 per kg to Rs24 in 2007 and is now selling at Rs26. Beef with bone registered a 166 per cent rise from Rs60 to Rs160 while the boneless variety shot up by 186 per cent from Rs70 to Rs200.

In the period that prices of essentials tripled for the people, the total cost of running inefficient state institutions rose four-fold.

The expenses at President House rose from Rs75m in 1999 to Rs309m now, on the PM from Rs98m to Rs367m, on the National Assembly from Rs250m to Rs1, 006m and on the Senate from Rs111m to Rs577m. The icing on the cake is that the veritable army of incompetent, bumbling and at times positively rude ministers, advisers and special assistants now costs Rs155m while seven years ago Rs24m was enough for this contingent’s upkeep. In 2004 Mr Jamali took 29 persons for Umra at a cost of Rs16.7m, Chaudhry sahib’s 134-person entourage dipped into the exchequer to the tune of Rs15.23m while Mr Aziz took along 49 persons on a trip that cost us Rs11.12m.

It is said Mullah Naseeruddin was told one day that his mother-in-law had drowned. He rushed to the river and asked to be shown the spot where she had drowned. He then started walking upstream. Surprised, his friends said it would be better if they went downstream. He replied, “You probably don’t know the lady, she acted obsessively differently from normal people. So I am certain we will find her body somewhere upstream.”


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