Dear Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif

Naeem Sadiq

While our country burns in a cauldron, fired by political instability and financial bankruptcy, you decide to take 3 days off for a cruise in the blue waters of Bosphorus. Of course the beggar nation will sponsor the trip under the façade of ‘important high level discussions’.

There are two reasons for my protest against this official junket. First that a nation begging for one more coin, one more meal and survival for one more day ought to exercise extraordinary austerity. Next that all such visits are essentially non value-adding and devoid of learning anything from the host country.

How one wished that besides whatever else that might engage you in that wonderful country for three days, you would also take out half an hour to sit in a bus that runs between the airport and the city centre. You could also squeeze another half an hour from your ‘precious routine’ to travel in a metro and try to figure out how civilised countries operate their trains. No Pakistani leader visiting Turkey has had the humility or the good sense to engage in these two simple but quintessential tasks.

A bus ride could have given you a feeler on how Turkey runs its bus system and how it also exports busses to most of Europe. As a citizen I am ashamed that, only last week, we imported 140 busses from China to operate our orange line in Karachi.

A short metro or train journey would have taught you how Turkey runs its metro better than many European countries. We the eternal self-appointed champions of Islam, gang rape our women in the trains named after revered saints like Bahauddin Zakriya. The Islamic Republic of Pakistan, shamelessly, takes no responsibility as it had sublet the entire operation of the train to a private sub contractor.

These are the same sub-contractors who cruelly exploit and underpay a million sanitary workers working in Municipal Committees and Solid Waste Management organisations of Pakistan. These are the same subcontractors who treat thousands of private security guards as slaves, make them work 12 hours a day, pay half the minimum wage and deploy them in esteemed government organisations like National Saving, banks and Pakistan Post.

What good is your visit toTurkey, if you were to learn nothing from this great country and if you were to do nothing to prevent gangrapes in our trains or cruel exploitation of our sanitary workers and private security guards.


Naeem Sadiq

| Naeem Sadiq is a Karachi Pakistan based social justice activist and author.

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