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Sunday April 21, 2024

Inequality crisis

By Mansoor Ahmad
February 25, 2024

LAHORE: We can reduce the huge expenditure of internal security and security of the ruling elite, top bureaucrats and even middle ranked police officials by ensuring social justice for all.

When we deny social justice, we invite rebellion of those who are deprived of fair play. The elite need security because the deprived think that they are responsible for their woes. The deprived population loses its sense of nationhood.

Islamabad police can be seen at a security checkpoint in the federal capital. — X/@ICT_Police
Islamabad police can be seen at a security checkpoint in the federal capital. — X/@ICT_Police

When they react, they have no idea that the national assets they destroy during strikes and sit-ins would have to be restored from the national exchequer and the government may not be left with resources to look after them.

But then, the deprived segment of society sees nothing coming their way even if they do not react to the injustices prevalent in Pakistan.

Our leaders and the five to ten percent of rich and influential fan hatred among the downtrodden with their lavish lifestyles. Many of them are rolling in wealth though they came from a humble background.

The wealth they accumulated came from tax evasion and many other unethical practices. Those living in two room houses or 1000 square yard residences now live in palaces spread over 30-50 acres of land. The people they lived with three to four decades back are still living as humbly from the income they earn through legal means.

Social injustice has made most of the population insensitive to many ills. They litter water channels with garbage because many factory owners do this with impunity. They dig roads without informing the municipality, they steal power (in most of the slums the electricity comes directly from the live wires or kundas).

The people of these slums are aggressive and do not allow the power officials to disconnect them. They see that at many offices, factories or residences where they work, the power theft is rampant with the connivance of those very officials that come to remove their kundas.

We have neglected the social and environmental needs of the poor to cater to the economic demands of the privileged. There is a dire need for change which must start with a focus on social justice.

People would appreciate it when they see their prime minister and other rulers living in a two bedroom house like the one every British PM lives in at 10 Downing Street. People would love to see their rulers using public transport instead of moving around in a fleet of luxury cars and blocking the traffic for the common man.

Social justice means policies and actions that create equal access to opportunity. The politicians must be answerable for the posh life they live on government expense and also from their own resources when they are not in power.

It is a sin to organize large rallies, public meetings, sit-ins or blocking highways that siphon off limited national resources. The poor willingly become the fodder to face police brutalities as protests give them the opportunity to vent their anger against injustices they daily face. Pakistan’s economy is in a dire state. It is high time to ensure that each citizen enjoys the basics of a dignified life. And the use of national resources by rulers or bureaucrats is fully accountable.

A culture of real simplicity is needed at the official level. The ruling elite and the bureaucrats must live modestly when they are serving the public even if they have tons of money (which everyone when asked says).