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Tone-deaf and tin-eared.

There are occasions when serious questions need asking and answering as to the cognitive capacities of some of those who represent the government in the National Assembly. One such instance involved the salary of the president and the non-payment of salaries to temporary teachers in Islamabad model colleges and schools. The faux pas developed as the minister in charge of the cabinet secretariat sought to introduce a bill that would increase the presidential salary by 530 per cent to Rs846,550 from his existing pay of Rs133,333.

The Opposition was on it like mice up a trouser-leg. Just why was it that the government prevaricated and havered in the matter of teachers' salaries, but almost in the same breath was happy to put forward a bill that proposes an astronomical increase in presidential remuneration? This is weapons-grade cognitive dissonance, particularly as the money to pay the teachers has already been released by the finance ministry. Mystery surrounds why that money has not appeared in their bank accounts. No disrespect is meant to the office of the president or to the president himself who will have had no hand in this piece of jiggery-pokery. However, the office of president is tainted by this clumsy piece of footwork by a government that by now really ought to have known better than to toss the Opposition opportunities to make it look foolish which it did.

An increase in the presidential salary to bring it in line with civil services grades is not unreasonable, and it was last revised upwards to its current level in 2004 which would suggest another update was appropriate. There is however no suggestion that the president is in any way impecunious, unlike the thousands of teachers who have been kept waiting for their dues for months. Their salaries are lying in some anonymous bank account that will be accruing interest which will find its way into who-knows-who's pocket but certainly not the teachers. The president is essentially decorative and ceremonial, the teachers anything but. The president is not going to go hungry any time soon, but the teachers? Fill in the blanks.

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Publication:The Express Tribune (Karachi, Pakistan)
Date:May 30, 2018
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