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Citizen Voices

Pakistan’s VIP Culture Continues Even In The Middle Of A Pandemic

The VIP culture in Pakistan is said to be partially responsible for exporting COVID-19, but still, the elite did not bother to get rid of this menace. On the other hand, Pakistani students studying abroad, particularly in China, were not permitted to travel to the country after the outbreak in the beginning of this year. However, pilgrims from two brotherly countries were allowed to enter the country due to the political pressure of the elites in February 26, 2020.

At the end of February, only two positive Covid cases were identified, but no one was restricted to move and get quarantined. On June 25, 2020, the cases reached 192,970 mark, with 3,903 deaths. A single day positive cases stood at 4,044, with 148 deaths. This pandemic started with exponential growth, but it then turned to territorial growth. Millions of Pakistanis are feared to be the victims of the disease but no one is held responsible due to the prevailing elite culture.

Pakistani elite considered themselves above the law and the state institutions either supported them or turned a blind eye to the issue. One can find the culture to be prevailing quite seriously. Every day, the Pakistani streets and roads become eyewitnesses to this culture. Either powerful people, their families, relatives, friends (even friends of friends) or colleagues display their power with a single phrase “tenu nahi pata main kon hon” (You don’t know who I am) Starting from bureaucrats, the politicians and representatives of the three pillars of the state enjoy a high level of elitism.

The severity of the issue is not limited to these people, as the academics (which are perceived to be intellectuals of the society) and even the agents of social change are also “prisoners of VIP culture”. They hardly consider the law to be implemented on them. Some of the persons can not even be mentioned or pointed out. If one mentions them, it will brings bad luck, criticism, contempt to them, to the extent that it can even bring to the verge of losing their life.

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However, if some of us look closely, they may get the insight to this social phenomenon. If one can creek or peep in, he or she can see the naked reality. With a VIP stature, one can breach the security of any institution in the country or bypass every red line. For this, only a few tips and resources are needed.

The culture is so penetrating into our indigenous identity that human values are becoming secondary. Masses are getting humiliated on the roads and in government offices and public institutions. Everyday, we watch video clips concerning all walks of life, reflective of the culture. Starting with the government vehicles, bureaucrats, security personnel and politicians to others use special number plates and enjoy the VIP status. These persons want to demonstrate that they are superior creatures and the rest are inferior. The country is their’s and they are born to rule. This is the colonial legacy that has historical transition since the British entered the sub-continent and it has become embedded in our traditions and value system. Those who have power or upper-class status were perceived to inherit the right to enjoy the VIP culture.

It is high time for the state of Pakistan to decide if it wants to give every citizen equal status as per the Constitution of 1973. No one should be above the law and every citizen must be considered equal irrespective of their clan, ethnic identity, caste, creed, color, race or belief. They should be given equal human respect, honor and social status. The first step would be to abolish all symbols of the colonial legacy. Using green color, red and blue number plates for vehicle should be banned. Those elected or the bureaucrats who place their names on development projects at the cost of public money must be highly discouraged or they should pay for it. Anyone who claims superiority must be discouraged at the state institutions and state offices. Every kind of VIP protocol must be banned because they are the source of insult for a common man and to the taxpayer. The fact is that we give examples of the Western countries and ideal Islamic culture, but hardly anyone practices the same in Pakistan.

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Once we have equality and no VIP culture, we will be promoting best practices for every public sector organisation. We would have less chances of future viral diseases (like Covid). To abolish the VIP culture was the agenda of the current government, but it seems to have forgotten it. The government should realise that it must honor its promises made to the common man.

Once the VIP culture is abolished, the gap between the state and the society will be bridged. And, with that, emerging dislike against the government and public institutions can be averted. Public harmony and sense of ownership to the country be enhanced by eradicating the scourge of the VIP culture.

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Naya Daur