By: Shirin Sadeghi
This week, as flood waters ravage Pakistan’s land and 20 million of its people, and after Pakistan’s own president, Asif Ali Zardari, managed to muster only $58,000 of his own vast wealth to the flood relief (a donation nearly doubled by Angelina Jolie), yet another devastating blow has hit Pakistan: news that the government has now approved an $11-million statue of the President’s assassinated wife, Benazir Bhutto.
And yes, this is Pakistani taxpayer money.
The statue itself will cost 4.7 million dollars, and it will be built on land that is worth another 5.9 million dollars. Apparently, Mr. Zardari, whose personal wealth is estimated to be more than 1 billion dollars, just couldn’t afford to donate the land or the statue in honor of the mother of his children.
His government decided the people of Pakistan could afford it, though. People who, according to the World Bank, have an average per capita income of $870 annually.
Admirably, the people of Pakistan have taken it upon themselves to try and stop this misguided use of funds in the midst of a national disaster. A legal action failed, but now a petition is available online.
Another day, another battle in the Pakistani people’s war for a representative government.