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"I announce today that this blasphemer who has abused the holy prophet, if somebody will kill him, I will give that person a prize of $100,000, (£60,000)," famous words of Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, Pakistan's railways minister.
He also invited Al-Qaeda and the Taliban to join the worthy mission.
One wonders where he got all the money from? Obviously the promised $100,000 bounty is not the sum of all his worldly goods but an amount he can spare for his religious obligations (read madness).
The film, Innocence of Muslims, has ignited rage and protests among Muslims all over the world. But this is by far the most irresponsible and bizarre announcement by any one representing a country’s government.
However, he did say he was not implicating Pakistan's government and acting independently as a person. Under the circumstances, his announcement is nothing more than fuel to a fire that is already raging high and claiming innocent lives.
Of course, the government of Pakistan has disassociated themselves from his mad bounty call. Even though his party, Awami National Party (part of Pakistan's governing coalition) said it would not be taking any action against him, there has been a lot of pressure on him to resign from his post.
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The minister, with his past riddled with instances of corruption has finally it seems, found a use for at least a portion of his ill-gotten stash.
Under his patronage, Pakistan Railways continues its downhill tumble as more and more trains are rendered unfit to be used. The railway tracks deteriorate, employees are underpaid and there is no check on corruption all the way from coolies to the Minister himself. Under pressure to make things better at the railways, his famous responses have been:
“With the ongoing pace of Pakistan Railways recovery, I don’t think this government, which has only nine months left, will be able to make any significant improvement in its operation… May be the next government can do better than us.”
"Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia do not have Railways, why Pakistan should have it?"
“Drag me in the streets with a noose around my neck, if I fail even after the provision of new locomotives.”
Ask Mr. Balour about the Ministry under him and he says he has no hopes for it. He laments that half of the total locomotives are out of order. Almost 86 % bridges are more than 100 years old. The trains, tracks and machinery are outdated or faulty. He says that Pakistan needs 25 to 30 engines annually. He is now making a plan to repair, hire or lease locomotives in collaboration with the private sector. If he is given adequate funds, he will make sure Pakistan’s railway system reaches every ‘nook and cranny’ of the country.
However, getting those funds and using them for what they are intended for are two different matters entirely. With a political culture ripe with corruption and misuse of funds, not many have hopes that he will make any difference for the betterment of the ministry under him. Some people even think that he is actually bent upon destroying Pakistan Railways with the connivance of Transporter Mafia in Pakistan-a fact given substance by the fact that he himself has high stakes in the transport sector.
Being part of a government, he should be responsible for his words and actions. His irresponsible words can create havoc, incite rage and result in destruction especially after the recent protests against the film in Pakistan that turned ugly leaving over 78 injured and 15 dead.
Well, he is the Minister for Railways, railway=trains=locomotives. We all know what loco means. So apparently all we have here is a loco with a motive. Hopefully no one will take him seriously.