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Preserving the Dignity of Civil Awards

by Bilal Ghauri
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Bilal Ghauri

Evaluating governments involves looking at various aspects, including how they award honors and medals. Civil awards are significant in Pakistan. Lately, concerns have arisen over how these awards are distributed. The previous PDM Government’s approach to this issue raised eyebrows due to its unusual nature. While compliments weren’t awarded, they broke records. It seemed that during Tehreek-e-Insaf’s rule, merit was prioritized, leading to expectations of the same under Shahbaz Sharif. However, he didn’t uphold this belief. Instead, he appointed individuals to crucial positions based on other factors and even disregarded civil awards.

In Pakistan, the President awards civil honors under Article 259(2) of the Constitution. A committee formed under the Cabinet Division decides recipients. Therefore, government decisions play a significant role. Generally, awards are given on Independence Day and Pakistan Day. During Tehreek-e-Insaf’s tenure, 426 individuals received awards over three years. However, after the PDM government’s arrival, 921 people were awarded in two years. This surpasses previous records. Bangladesh awarded only 314 in eight years, while India distributed 927 over a longer period. This drastic increase in awards warrants attention.

It’s puzzling why prominent figures haven’t protested this misuse of civil awards. Historically, many received awards from military rulers despite restricted freedom of expression. Some, like Saraiki poet Iqbal Soktri, declined military rulers’ medals. Ahmed Faraz returned Hilal Imtiaz due to Balochistan’s intervention. Others, like Raja Dahir and Taj Joyo, returned awards due to personal tragedies or political issues. Veerta Ali Ujjan refused the award in light of repression against journalists and writers.

It’s time for writers, intellectuals, historians, researchers, and journalists to decide whether to criticize or take action. Until proper procedures for award distribution are established, they can choose to resist or abstain from receiving awards. This choice is crucial for maintaining the integrity of civil awards and the respect they deserve.

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