(By Aijaz Hussain)
As a resident of Pakistan, there have been numerous occasions where I have seen important roads being blocked by security personnel and hundreds of vehicles forced to stop in their tracks because a ‘VIP’ accompanied by a dozen or more protocol vehicles chose to take the same route.
It is surprising and ironic to see how that even though, the constitution of Pakistan has kept everyone as equal in the eyes of the law, the ‘VIP’ culture has only grown over the years in its essence. As a person who has also been part of such a movement, seeing a security guard pop out of the back of a Toyota Vigo and literally harass a local rickshaw driver all for the sake of making him clear the road for us to go through, was something I was not impressed with.
The reason being that this was a downright violation of a citizen’s right. And to get the sudden realization that this was not the only case through which this culture was being practiced, was a bit worrying.
It is a common practice to place police lights in your vehicles and put stickers on the windshields of cars to avoid standing in line at security checkpoints like everyone else. People also use their cellphones as the tool for the basis of getting past such obstructions by making a phone call to someone who is a civil servant or has some authoritative position in the government.
Heck, it also gets as easy as lowering the glass window beside the front seat and introducing oneself as a person who as some sort of an acquaintance with a person who is in power somewhere. All such acts are a testament to the fact that we still are far very away from constructing a society which is based on the principle of equality.
Gun culture and roaming around the city with guards and their AK47s and shotguns is another problematic situation that no one ever finds the need to address. Although, in a country like Pakistan where the law and order situation is not a stable one, some high-profile individuals do legitimately require such protection. But it is the abuse of such power which can sometimes end in very unfortunate and troublesome incidents, going as far as the death of a person.
There have been numerous cases which have involved the inculcation of VIP culture, the most recent one being a girl slapping a policeman at the Dolmen Mall Clifton in Karachi.
According to reports, she was being denied access by him, at which she confronted him with physical abuse. No one in the country is alien to the Shahzeb Khan murder case, which is the worst form of power being abused.
Not many months ago, a video went viral in which the wife of a retired army colonel was threatening a guard on a motorway by saying that she would let him off his job after she was stopped for checking.
A lot of concerns have been raised over this culture to ultimately go towards its complete abolishment in the country.
From what I believe, it is significant to eradicate the root cause of this problem, which is the mindset of thinking of oneself as being superior or mightier than the other in terms of significance.