Waqf audit and clean up

Greater Kashmir
Publish Date: Oct 11 2012 12:00PM

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s order for a much-awaited special administrative and financial audit of the J&K Muslim Waqf Board is a welcome step. This audit must be independent, genuine and, among other things, address the deep public concerns about the mismanagement, nepotism and financial irregularities in the Board. The audit must not only focus on the Board’s operational issues but also seek to suggest measures that would help it embrace a longer term vision of development with the kind of transparency and accountability it requires. One of the key goals, of course, for the special audit committee should be establishing ways and means for a cleanup of the Board’s financial management systems. But at the same time, the administrative audit should be able to suggest measures for a more prudent and productive use of the vast Waqf resources, most of which lie underutilised because of a lack of vision and capacity in its leadership. The current level of political and government interference in its functioning also needs a review. In view of the fact that the Board has recently made public details of some of its most valued assets, the committee should strive to take note, and even engage in some degree, of public discourse about the ways of making an optimum use of those resources. For a longer term vision, two priorities must remain on the top for a restructured and reformed Board: one is the creation of educational institutions of excellence and the other a social welfare system that takes care of the financial and other social needs of the most downtrodden sections of the society. Although the Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST) has been a good endeavor towards that direction, much more needs to be done. J&K state needs institutions of educational excellence today because a large number of its youngsters leave the state creating a situation of an avoidable brain drain. That is an area where the Waqf’s resources could be really useful.