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Quaid on government spending

quaid-studyQuaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who assumed office as the first Governor General of Pakistan, on August 14, 1947, exercised strict watch on government spending, the official expenditure on the Governor General's House in Karachi and his person.

He refused to accept the high salary to which he was entitled as the Governor General, and shunned the huge expenditure and personally examined expenditures on the staff every month, services and utilities of the Governor General's House in Karachi. He instructed the staff to show care and economy in the consumption of electricity and piped water in the household.

According to the Quaid's sister, Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah, at times the Governor General, instead of burdening the State Exchequer, bore some part of the monthly administrative expenditure on the Governor General's House from his personal funds which he brought into Pakistan through his bankers in Mumbai.

He took only Rs.1 per month as his official salary from the Government of Pakistan.

The Quaid’s income from his professional fees and profits from corporate investments was considerable, indeed more than his budgeted salary as Governor General of Pakistan.

He still used his old Packard limousine, which was brought from Mumbai to Karachi. It was very well maintained and Quaid-e-Azam bore the expenses of maintaining it. He retained the services of his old chauffeur who had served him most devotedly in Mumbai and opted to serve him inKarachi. Jinnah had purchased the Packard some 15 years ago through the good offices of a commercial firm in Calcutta headed by his most devoted party colleague, Mirza Abul Hasan Ispahani.

The Pakistan Foreign Office and the Protocol wing of the government impressed upon the Governor General the urgent need for him to have a new suitable limousine for use in Karachi and a new aircraft for use on state duty. The Quaid called for a report from the government on what kind of limousines and aircraft were in use for heads of state in other Commonwealth countries.

Quaid-e-Azam felt utterly surprised when he learnt from Prime Minister Liaquat Ali details of the lavish spending by the British Indian Government on the office of the Viceroy and his person and family in New Delhi.

"This expenditure is too huge for our new State, we cannot afford it. Cut my budget to the barest minimum. I can live decently in Karachi with my own funds. We need more funds urgently for Kashmir and refugee rehabilitation, he said. "I don't need a new limousine, my Packard is still a beauty and runs well. I can use commercial aircraft and Air Force planes for travel in the country," said the Governor General Jinnah to his Prime Minister.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Sir Zafarullah Khan took it upon himself to explain to the Quaid-e-Azam the rationale for a suitable limousine and aircraft for his use on state duty. The Governor General agreed but instructed Ambassador M.A.H. Ispahani in Washington D.C. to look into the matter to buy a suitable new limousine and a small aircraft in the USA for the use of the Governor General in Pakistan.

Ambassador Ispahani suggested purchase of a new Super Cadillac and wrote that the manufacturer of General Motors would give a very substantial discount in the listed price for the new model. Quaid-e-Azam got a detailed report on the limousine, the net price payable, and the time when it would be delivered in Karachi. He also got a report on which other countries were using Cadillacs for their heads of state, government and ambassadors.

Quaid-e-Azam, suggested that as Pakistan has a left-hand traffic system, the Cadillac should have a left hand drive system. He also wanted assurances from the manufacturers that spare parts needed for the vehicle would be made available in Pakistan quickly.

General Motors offered to install many new gadgets, facilities and conveniences in the Cadillac at a nominal expense such as long distance telephone. The offer was accepted largely because the amount was small. The Quaid was a hard taskmaster and Ambassador Ispahani knew his penchant for the minutes' detail and absolute transparency.

The exchange of correspondence about the purchase of the Cadillac Limousine between Ispahani and Governor General Jinnah is amply covered in a 1948 book “M.A. Jinnah Ispahani Correspondence 1936-1948” edited by Z. H. Zaidi and launched in Karachi by Ispahani in a crowded press conference at his residence in the presence of his wife, Begum Ghamar Ispahani.

Seemingly, the Governor General was a bit annoyed when the delivery of the Limousine ordered from the USA through our Embassy there was delayed. In his letter dated December 11, 1947, to Ispahani, Governor General Jinnah wrote... "What about my car? It was to be delivered in the middle of November and here we are now in the middle of December and I have not yet heard as to what has happened to it. Please let me know how the matter stands because I want the car very badly." In his letter of December 20, 1947, from the Pakistan Embassy in Washington D.C Ambassador Ispahani informed the Governor General of Pakistan that the Cadillac had reached New York from Detroit, its place of manufacture by General Motors and it will be placed on board a ship bound for Karachi before the end of next week. I am sure you will like the automobile.

In this letter, Ispahani also enclosed a photograph of the new 20-passenger Model 34 Beechcraft aeroplane, which had successfully completed its initial flight test on October 1, 1947, and can be bought at a reasonable price for use of the Governor General in Pakistan. In his letter dated January 8, 1948, Ambassador Ispahani informed the Governor General that the Cadillac booked for him was shipped on SS Explorer, which left the USA on December 29, and it was due to reach Karachi port in the first week of February.

It was also suggested to the Quaid-e-Azam that along with the Cadillac ordered for him, he should have a second limousine. The Quaid told Ambassador Ispahani that he did not want a second car, but looked forward to the Cadillac because the number of top ranking foreign dignitaries visiting Pakistan were increasing and at times they had to ride with the Governor General in his official car from Karachi Airport to the Governor General's House in Karachi.

The meticulous care with which the Pakistan Governor General attended to official work, is evidenced by Ambassador Ispahani's letter of October 20, 1948, from the Pakistan Embassy in Washington DC to him in Karachi in which the Ambassador wrote that he had received the letter of the Military Secretary to Jinnah, Colonel Birnie dated October 21, 1948, advising him of the remittance to him of $6,000 to meet the cost and other charges incurred on account of the Cadillac car.

In a letter dated November 3, 1947, from Washington DC, Ambassador Ispahani informed the Governor General that the aircraft for his use from the Beechcraft Corporation would cost around a quarter million dollars.  Jinnah did not approve. He said that the Governor General of Pakistan cannot afford to travel in an aircraft, which will cost more than fifteen lakhs in rupees. The Quaid opted for a slightly less expensive aircraft of Vickers Armstrong whose Viking planes were in use in India and Pakistan for civil purpose and he said in his reply to Ispahani letter that its price was reasonable. Another difficulty with the Beechcraft plane was servicing while for the Vikings it posed no problem.

The Governor General called for reports from the Pakistan Air Force to ensure that the aircraft was technologically the best for the price. It should be remembered that the time when the Quaid-e-Azam was personally examining this matter in Karachi he was not in the best of health and his physicians were pressing him to shift to Quetta or Ziarat.


Copyright Business Recorder, 2011