A party at the zoo was a lame idea

This is with reference to the report “CS takes notice of zoo’s closure for private event” (Feb 5) according to which a lavish birthday party was organised at the Zoological Gardens in Karachi by a senior official of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) for his daughter. Due to the event, the Imli Street of Mughal Garden was cordoned off by security personnel and it remained closed to the general public.

Zoo is a public place meant to provide entertainment to city dwellers. Amenities, streets, waterfronts, public parks, etc., are not allowed to be used for private affairs as they are critical to the infrastructure usage and recreational purposes for the public, including the poor, who do not have spacious homes and gardens to retreat to.

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Public domains, such as a zoo, are therefore considered basic public service with the same priority as transport, water and sanitation which the state primarily focusses its resources on.

The birthday party, as such, was clearly and blatantly against the relevant rules and regulations. However, upon the uproar and furore caused by disgruntled and inconvenienced masses, the incident was reported by the media, and it was through the media that the authorities concerned got to know of the event which was then wrapped up quickly.

The citizens rightly termed the incident an abuse of power and misuse of authority by the official concerned.

The state at all levels needs compassionate, disciplined and accountable officials to run the business of the government.

Being the ultimate executive authority mandated with implementing all pieces of legislations, the bureaucracy holds a central position in establishing a truely functional state in the hope that it will one day actually become a welfare state.

Since the bureaucrats are the ones meant to ensure service delivery to the masses at the grassroots level, a compassionate, pragmatic, unfettered and humane public service system is essential for the state to function effectively.

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Regrettably, our officials are every- thing they should not be; ineffective and un-empathetic.

Recruitment lacunas, superiority complex, political appointments, lack of training and influenced postings and transfers are some of the reasons behind the dwarfed performance of the state machinery.

Being in the good books of the rich and the powerful is the elementary and sole approach of most, if not all, of the officials.

Hunger for power and their self-perceived social status reigns supreme in their hearts and minds. In short, for any government official, there are two objectives in mind; to hold as much power, and to amass as much riches as they possibly can.

Against this backdrop, it is not too hard to contextualise the reprehensible action of the public officer to hold a lavish family event on public property and banning movement of the public. The mindset is reflective of arrogance and, indeed, elitism, which is actually a term they love to be identified with.

This superiority complex is manifested in the fact that a large number of such officials behave no differently than autocrats in their respective realms.

The term ‘public servant’ appears to be a misnomer as such officials barely behave like one. Serving the masses, particularly the underprivileged, exists nowhere on their agenda.

The provincial chief minister should take notice of this blatant misuse of authority. Such instances of power abuse, indifference and apathy by public- service officials must be investigated and subsequent exemplary punishments be meted out.

The country needs a compassionate and accountable machinery comprising officials from the very top to the very bottom who sincerely believe that public good is above everything else.



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