Omar Khattab in Islamabad
Islamabad is afloat with rumors that the federal minister of finance Shaukat Tareen resign from his post because he did not agree with the Army high command to curb the every-increasing Army budget. Last year, just like every year, the Army took the lion’s share from the budget. The amount it got was 322 billion rupees as opposed to 2 billion rupees for health and education.
This year the Army demanded that an additional sum of 130 billion rupees be given to it because of its action against the militants in Pakistan’s northern areas. The action itself has been dubbed bogus by many independent political observers both in and outside Pakistan. It has been argued that the Army is in fact protecting the Taliban instead of destroying them. It is the ordinary people who are being killed and the world being told that the Taliban are being gotten rid of.
But from the point of view of Tareen, say the rumors, after giving the major share of the budget to the Army, there would be nothing left for development of the country. For a number of years now, no money is available for development in education and health sectors; all they get is money to pay up the salaries. Every time when it wants to raise money, the government levies new taxes on electricity and petrol which hits the ordinary very hard. But no one has ever dared hold the Army accountable for the billions it squanders. In Pakistan’s history no government has ever dared discuss and audit the budgetary share given to the Army. For a person who wants to curb the all-powerful Army, the only way is to keep quiet and continue to work or resign and keep quiet. The latter is a dignified way compared to the former. This is what, it is believed, Shaukat Tareen has done.