Protocol phobia in Punjab
During present week the Punjab government remains occupied to provide red carpet reception and protocol to visiting Turkish guests and Lahorites had to face unprecedented traffic congestion, lack of civic facilities and travel hindrance.
Although Istanbul Mayor Dr. Kadir Topbas was a distinguished guest in the city, the inconvenience faced by city folks because of the elaborate protocol accorded to him was above tolerance level. Topbas was offered a VVIP protocol with signal-free movement, high security apparatus and lavish banquets. The protocol was against the stipulation of the blue book, a document which decides the level of protocol to be offered to any foreign dignitary during visit to Pakistan. It was also higher than the protocol offered to Punjab chief minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif and his delegation during visit to Turkey in the last week of February. Punjab delegation had to stop at traffic signals as signal free travel was not allowed in Turkey’s rules. The visiting guest deserved protocol status at par to Mayor of a city but was offered at par to premier of any country.
Punjab government invited Topbas to visit Lahore city with the aims to ink various agreements and learn from his expertise in civic issues. To arrange reception for guests, the finance department provided Rs4.6 million as supplementary grant to the city government Lahore. The city government spent above 15.0 million (additional from own resources). The city was decorated with huge picture hoardings of Pakistan Muslim League leadership and Turkish leaders, flower pots and flags.
The Punjab government sent a special charter airplane to Karachi to pick delegation. The finance department released Rs5 million to pay for air travel. The delegation visited Shahlimar Garden, Mazar-e-Iqbal and historical Badshahi Mosque and Hazoori Bagh during its stay. The Istanbul mayor also visited Government College University where he was awarded honorary degree of doctorate despite opposition by chancellor of university. His wife visited vocational institute also.
It was a business nature tour as deals were signed to facilitate Turkish companies to earn in dollars in the coming years.
The whole provincial administrative machinery and city government manpower remained busy facilitating the visitors, leaving the tax-paying citizens much harried and exasperated.
The citizens appear justified in asking if this was the good governance promised by PML-N government.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.