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Education, Laptops and Controversy

In 2012, the PML-N provincial government in Punjab ran a campaign distributing over a hundred and ten thousand laptops (portable computers). The government claimed to have been consistent in only awarding 'talented' students purely based on 'merit' (Tribune).

The facilitation was widely endorsed by supporters of the political party (and certain others) while it was contended against by many. A major allegation was noted that the government officials gave special favors to the contractor who enabled the supply of the machines. The Punjab government distributed 110,000 laptops to university students across the province allegedly to counter the rising popularity of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan among the youth just one year before the 2013 General Elections (PDF)

However, a special audit conducted by the government’s own wing – the Auditor General’s Office – pointed out serious corruption in the scheme.

Moreover, according to the Ministry of Finance, Economic Affairs, Statistics and Revenue (Revenue Division) Notification No SRO 655(1)/2007 dated July 29, 2007, Special Excise Duty is exempted on computer hardware including laptops, notebooks, PCs mainframe and other peripheral units and parts thereof. However, an examination of the record revealed that the contractor was paid Rs 200 per laptop as excise duty whereas it was exempted by the government of Pakistan as per the above notification causing a loss to public exchequer valuing Rs 22 million (PDF).

Documents available with Pakistan Today reveal that the price of one laptop was shown as Rs 20,000 as approved by the Provincial Development Working Party (PDWP) in October 2011 for a dual-core Dell machine. However, two months later, the PC-I of that scheme was revised and the laptop price was increased from Rs 20,000 to Rs 37,950 per piece without changing the original specifications (PDF). Such a change is worthy of being questioned as the price nearly doubled in a matter of few months, that too after the demand was generated.

This caused a net loss of around 2 Billion PKR to the public exchequer (Over 20.5 million USD as per the conversion rate then).

Moreover, the project to enhance IT labs in Punjab schools, a project of the School Education Department was rolled up and Rs 2 billion in finances were diverted to the Higher Education Department (HED) for the laptop scheme without any provision under the rules (PDF).

Such implications, proven allegations of corruption force one to reconsider the impact and effectiveness of such schemes. These laptops must have benefitted a lot but infrastructural developments In the educational sector were compromised at the same time majorly challenging the effectiveness of such giveaways being administered by a government.


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What an insightful topic, Hammad! I first heard about this scheme when my sister received a laptop through it despite not really needing one. It seemed like students with a GPA above 3.0 were automatically receiving them. Initially, I believed it was a commendable effort by the government to motivate students to excel in their studies. However, subsequent reports suggested that this initiative might have been a mere facade for election campaigns or an attempt to garner sympathy from the youth.

"Furthermore, the lack of transparency within this scheme has been a widespread topic among the people I know and across various social media platforms, including Instagram. There's undoubtedly a significant amount of controversy surrounding this initiative, and I share…


The revelations surrounding the laptop distribution campaign by the PML-N provincial government in Punjab raise serious concerns about the transparency and integrity of such initiatives. While the intention we can say is commendable, the alleged corruption and mismanagement of funds underscore the need for accountability in government schemes especially in Pakistan. This prompts a critical evaluation of the true impact of such initiatives. Such questionable practices detract from the intended benefits and compromise broader advancements in the education sector. The question is then, "In light of these revelations, what measures can be implemented to rebuild public trust in government-led educational initiatives?" Answer as I think of it is, people still trust these schemes. Another question would be "How can the…


The laptop distribution campaign by the PML-N government in Punjab, initially hailed for promoting "merit", now raises serious concerns. Allegations of corruption, including favoritism towards contractors and financial irregularities, makes us question the program's integrity.

Paying excise duty on laptops exempted by government notifications and doubling the price without justification is a blatant misuse of funds. The diversion of funds from school IT labs to the laptop scheme further served as a nail in the coffin. While laptops may have benefited some students, the compromised infrastructural developments and proven corruption makes me question the the overall effectiveness of such government initiatives. personally, I would prefer transparency and accountability in these schemes for my own satisafaction. what do you think?


Your examination of the PML-N's campaign offers a compelling insight into the complexities of government initiatives. It raises serious concerns about transparency, accountability, and the motives behind this scheme. The revelation that the government officials favored a contractor who supplied the laptops, along with the disparities in the duty payments, points to the misuse of public funds. Also, the fact that the laptops were distributed just before the elections raises concerns about the government's motives and whether this was for the public good or was just a strategic move to sway public opinion.

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