‘’Among a people generally corrupt, liberty cannot long exist’’
This quote from Edmund Burke holds true for Pakistan’s government sector in particular, where the inefficiency and disruption have absorbed so powerfully in the entire structure, that the ones with different thought patterns either end up dissolving in the system submitting to it or the stubborn are simply thrown out of it.
The struggles of an individual who enters in the system with a vision of changing it are no different than a person who expects deaf to appreciate his verbal power. Ashir Azeem is one of those people who met the similar fate. Most of us remember this name by the popular ”Dhuwan” and later from movie ‘Maalik’, that was dubbed as the biggest possible threat to democracy in Pakistan. After dodging the Federal and Provincial watchdogs, the movie ruled the screen.
People see him as a revolution in Pakistani media industry, who has finally found a unique method of amalgamating relevant issues with the power of screen in a country like Pakistan, where we have – whether openly or unannounced – submitted to the system and the unethical environment it is operating in.
Ashir has previously been a part of the same system as well, which he tried to change but was pushed out of the door. Though inquired many times about his experience in customs, he avoided talking about it but finally decided to reveal it a few months back in a YouTube video, which gives us a deep insight of the horrible insides.
CUSTOMS AND THEIR SIGNIFICANCE FOR NATIONAL ECONOMY:
Customs are the determinants of economic competitiveness that in turn impact each and every individual directly or indirectly. In the first part of his video, Ashir gives an understandable yet in-depth description of how the system works and how a healthy system positively impacts economy on the national and collective level.
As the world is progressing on a fast pace and communication means have drastically improved, the Custom Services should be more modern to accommodate the new visitors, and dexterous to tackle the new challenges that they bring.
Ashir highlights that the system lacked the capacity to absorb them as the laws were simply a copy-paste from 1800’s with no current relevance and it relied heavily on human power, that automatically impacted the efficiency as the personal interest always remained a concern. He further added that containers took 12 days to clear port in Pakistan whereas, in the US, it took just a few minutes. Things needed to be changed, and Ashir and his team devised a strategy to improve it.
To significantly amplify the efficiency, they suggested the system to be entirely computerized. He said that the idea was to increase the access, that instead of an individual coming to office, the office should go to the individual. The new system worked tremendously well and made the process convenient for the importer and the exporter. The clearance time decreased from 12 days to only four hours. Productivity increased dramatically as well as the system was now more transparent.
Transparency, that became a little too hard to digest for the corrupt mafia and people from inside the department started to turn against them.
FAULTED, BLAMED and ultimately, QUITTED:
As mentioned initially, Pakistan’s Government Sector either absorbs a capable individual in it throws him out – in this case, Ashir and his team met the later fate. He states that power changed marking the end of Musharraf’s era and Pakistan People’s Party gained it’s foothold, making things hard for them. As the leadership structure changed, they could sense that the room for efficiency in the government sector has decreased as well.
Soon after it, the new improved Custom Services department was under question for its working. It was called inefficient at first, but the stats clearly rejected the claim. When they couldn’t find any loophole in the working, they dubbed it as a national safety issue, blaming Ashir and his team for working for CIA.
They were interrogated in the safe house and cleared of all charges and then later blamed for corruption. They faced the investigation and proved themselves and were later restored but decided not to continue in this corrupt department.
He encapsulated his experience in part two of the following video:
The torch-bearers will always do their part regardless of the challenges they face. We hope that at some point in time, the system bows down to them as well.
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