A recipe for de-VIP-sation
October 2, 2014
Some three years ago, I received an invitation from an NGO to attend a school function at a five star hotel, where the chief guest was to be the Sindh minister for education. I regretted to join the event on the grounds that the NGO could exercise austerity by holding the event at a more modest location. I also could not help expressing my abhorrence to the invitation of VIPs to educational events – especially those who contributed most to the destruction of education in the province.
For sixty seven years Pakistan has promoted VIP-sation and weaponisation as the cornerstones of its ‘recipe to rule’. Weapons and VIPs have become synonymous as two sides of the same smudged coin. Like malignant cells, the two lesions now uncontrollably divide and spread to form lumps or masses of tissue around our entire body. The sight of two such lumps being unceremoniously ejected from a PIA flight and the subsequent outburst of equally uncontrollable joy, speaks volumes about what the ordinary people think of VIPs in Pakistan.
Getting rid of the ‘VIP culture’, is a promise repeated ‘ad nauseum’. In practice everything is done to reinforce just the opposite. Here are some practical (though hard to swallow) steps that the citizens could push for.
The airports and the national airline have emerged as the leading bootlickers for those in power. The CAA and PIA must be asked to purge all airports of all signs and symbols of exclusivity. The ‘Parliamentarian counters’ be removed and all persons regardless of their private or official status be made to stand in the same queue and undergo the same body search. The VIP lounges be shut down and every one must utilise the same departure hall. The rich and the powerful, escorted by their minions shamefully carrying their personal luggage be prohibited from doing so. Every person regardless of how important he might think of himself, must stand in a queue, prove his identity and personally receive his boarding card. Currently these invisible services are performed by obsequious underlings.
The national airline, an epicenter for cronyism and apple polish, be publicly warned not to delay the planes for any individual, even if he happens to be the Prime Minister of Pakistan. A notice to this effect must appear in all newspapers for the knowledge (and satisfaction) of all citizens.
One cannot be a genuine VIP without owning a cache of weapons. No citizen, regardless of his rank or status must be allowed to possess, carry or display any weapon of any bore – licensed or otherwise. All shops selling weapons be closed and all citizens be asked to surrender every type of weapon regardless of how it was acquired.
The federal and provincial government officials in Pakistan have been allocated over 150,000 cars, ostensibly for official use. Officials in green number-plated cars act as if they were the Lord’s specially chosen representatives. They carry armed guards, stop traffic, break traffic lights, take their vehicles into areas forbidden for ordinary mortals, park at wrong places, ( Courtesy CAA’s bootlicking, VIPs park their car at the Arrival area of airports while all slave Pakistanis park in the parking lot.), do not pay the parking fee (even at the DHA’s Nisar Shaheed park), and browbeat those who do not clear the way for their high speed caravans.
All government cars be withdrawn and publicly auctioned. No official, regardless of his rank be entitled to possess an official vehicle. Any one proceeding on official duty could requisition a vehicle from a small common car pool maintained by each department. Like the practice in UK, all individuals, including the ministers ought to reach their offices at their own arrangement. In stark comparison to our 150,000 official cars, the UK government uses only 85 cars – of which 13 are allocated to ministers and the rest reside in a common car pool.
The de-VIP-sation process must include removal of all barriers, walls, road blocks and tents from the homes of those who have been shamefully designated as important. Karachi’s one third police and one third mobiles are engaged in protecting this breed. What the police gets in return is incompetence, humiliation and slavery. The fourteen Model Town killings and the murder of Suleman Lashari in Karachi are a result of such canine loyalty.
Finally no building, road, bridge, airport or construction of any kind be named after a serving official or politician – unless he has paid the full cost of the project from his own pocket. Even the inaugural inscriptions on plaques or foundation stones should not bear the names of those in power – a practice that will mercifully cut down many fake and hurriedly orchestrated inaugurations. Are those in power willing to ‘detox’ themselves and give up their perks for a classless Pakistan.