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New PM Shehbaz Sharif wants ‘Pakistan speed’ in govt offices, Pakistanis say ‘RIP bureaucrats’

Shehbaz Sharif has said government offices will be open six days a week. Not all Pakistanis are happy with the ‘workaholic’ PM.

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New Delhi: One of the first decisions Pakistan’s new prime minister Shehbaz Sharif took was to reduce two holidays a week to one. From now on, government offices in Pakistan will remain open six days a week. Not only that, Sharif also increased office timings to 10 hours.

While some Pakistani commentators saw the move as essential to fast-track governance, others blamed ‘Crime Minister of Pakistan’ – Sharif and his sons are accused in a sugar scandal – for trying to encourage ‘corruption six days a week’.

If you thought he wasn’t serious, Sharif reached the Prime Minister’s Office at 7 am himself on Tuesday. The International News reported that government officials hurried to office on hearing the news. The decision comes in the backdrop of Pakistan’s economic crisis and inflation rates. “Now to meet the challenges, work will be done on Pakistan speed,” Sharif told the media.

Some PMLN leaders like Miftah Ismail, former federal minister of finance, praised the move by calling it ‘Shehbaz Speed’.

Also read: Pakistani media praises ‘workaholic’ PM Shehbaz Sharif, others say ‘beggars can’t be choosers’

‘Pakistan moving backwards’

Pakistanis on social media have pointed out that a six-day work week isn’t healthy and that ‘people weren’t donkeys’.

Others have said that Pakistan is moving backwards while the world is shifting to a four-day week for optimum performance. Replying to news portal The Current’s Facebook post about the move, a user wrote: “’How does increasing working hours improve productivity? Are the progressive nations dumb that [they] are heading towards a 4-day work week?”

Supporters of Shehbaz Sharif and PMLN, however, spoke in support of the move. A user named Adeel Sarfraz said, “Pakistan needs to work hard as much as possible.” Though the joke on social media was that the government now wanted to encourage ‘corruption six days a week’ instead of five.

Sharif is known for his punctuality and it seems he is expecting the same from his staff. He advised people not to waste even a moment. Sharif also told government officials they were there to serve the people of Pakistan. Dawn, in its editorial, called him a ‘workaholic’ and noted Sharif’s tendency to call himself ‘Khadim-i-Aala’ (chief servant).

The prime minister also increased civil and military pensions by 10 per cent. The minimum wage will be jacked up to Rs 25,000.

Also read: Expect small steps, not a breakthrough in India-Pakistan ties despite Shehbaz-Modi messages

Not the first time

PM Shehbaz Sharif is not the first prime minister to change the system of weekly offs. Pakistan has changed it two times in the past. After independence, the country followed the Western weekend off system till General Zia-ul Haq made Friday and Saturday holidays in 1977 to please Muslim clerics and allow citizens to go for Friday prayers.

After two decades, in 1997, then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reverted back to the Saturday-Sunday holiday system so that Pakistan could attract more foreign business and trade and not face losses, reported The Washington Post.

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