Who knows better than a Pakistani about traffic jams that get suffocating and horrid as soon as a VIP decides to saunter their way down the town with their battalion of guards and various onlookers. In simple words, we know how much discomfort we face when a high class politician or celebrity makes a point of visiting a public venue. Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Karachi and other cities witness this discriminating and unethical display of posh attitude every other day. It gets worse in summer given the climate we reside in.
There are different consequences of this display of unequal treatment.
- Classes of varying stratification are given less importance and are treated uncivilly by police.
- Ambulances and other cars with patients in critical condition are treated with secondary importance.
- Roads are turned into red carpets.
- Rules are bent for VIPs which shows how law is malleable and even distorted for people with privilege.
I remember when I was a young grade school student; I was waiting with my mother in the car to get groceries when a policeman told my driver to park the car on the other end of the road merely because a parliamentarian was driving by that part of the town. It did anger me and my driver; why should common civilians change their positions as soon as a politician shows up?
A citizen of Lahore once wrote to the editor in Pakistan Times about how her car was directed to the far left of the road simply because a VIP was driving on the same road. This discriminating attitude has discomforted many Pakistanis on a daily basis. What’s worse is that nothing substantial is being done to tackle this behavior. If anything, it is reveled in and even encouraged by elites.
Many times patients in critical condition have been told to wait as cars with blazing sirens and black screens drive by as they please. It really does disappoint and dishearten those with a sense of equality and regard for human life.
Roads are turned into red carpet events where celebrities and elites get the better of treatment and road space while the ‘commoners’ are ordered to drive at the far sides of the road. Here’s what happens: Something so common and ordinary like driving is turned into a spectacle or as they say in Urdu, “tamasha”.
What is the biggest and most obvious problem of VIP movement? Answer: Disobeying the law which is supposed to be made for everyone equally. When a VIP chooses to break red lights, stop traffic for no legitimate reason, use excessive vehicles and petrol for the movement of a single person, they are simply breaking the law and showing how they are somehow above any penalty. This attitude is unethical.
The solution to the problem is simple: Call out those who break the law regardless of their power in the society. If one stands up against this display of social inequality and indifference towards the law, others will follow the example most definitely. A VIP should never deserve different treatment simply because they have more power than the common citizen. Zulifqar Ali Bhutto once got out of his car to meet citizens back in the good old days; this proved how he attempted to maintain good relations with the common people. This example should be taught everywhere in Pakistan.