The elitist mindset
The above are not thoughts from medieval times, but were only recently echoed by a senator of the ruling party in Pakistan. While these remarks have sparked a controversy, they actually reflect the elitist mindset of politicians and other affluent members of society in the country. To them, the poor are born to serve the rich and in many ways their property. With their political power and strong connections, these influentials take decisions in their vested interests to often deny the poor equal rights and opportunities.
This was one of the rare occasions when a government official has chosen to be indiscreet about a bitter reality of Pakistan. For too long, we have heard statements on poverty and equality that sound politically correct, but not in line with the daily struggles of a common man. The senator should not be chastised by his counterparts for openly tabling his opinion — instead, he should be thanked for providing us a timely reminder about the socioeconomic state of Pakistan. It is no secret that the underprivileged in Pakistan are finding it hard to make their ends meet despite tall claims by the government of an economic revival. The status quo still prevails, with the gap between rich and poor widening every day.
So is it the government’s fault that the country is facing such conundrums and not showing signs of making much headway in the future? Yes, partly. The government has failed to provide the poor of this country with a decent existence due to low investments in health, education and other basic socioeconomic sectors of the country. Job opportunities for the untrained are scarce and even the country’s tax structure is majorly flawed to burden them. By design, all systems of the country discriminate against them and prevent them from crossing the poverty line.
As reflected by the senator’s comments, the real problem lies in feudalistic mindset of the elite class. Unfortunately, this attitude is honed in the expensive, private schools that are meant only for the rich and isolate them from tragedies faced by the ordinary citizens. Growing up with quality education and all comforts of life instills a sense of entitlement in their nature and they begin to look down upon an average Pakistani.
This arrogance fuels the menace of the VIP culture and corruption in the society. It is no surprise that most politicians and leaders of the society hail from such backgrounds and consider themselves to be above the law.
The former director of UNDP for Pakistan, Marc-André Franche, perfectly sums up the way forward for Pakistan. In a recent interview, he criticized the influential and wealthy of Pakistan for failing to sacrifice their short term, personal and family interests in favor of a wider national agenda. He believes that “the elite needs to decide do they want a country or not.”
If Pakistan is to progress, a lot of work needs to be done to strengthen public institutions and local governments for development in neglected areas. The “apartheid of opportunities” and glaring inequalities need to be overcome so that Pakistan can rise as a nation to confront its future challenges.
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view