Commuting in metropolitan cities like Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad often bestows upon you the unforgettable experience of being reminded how ‘ordinary’ you are and may only use the road when it isn’t being used by a ‘VIP’. When a policeman raises his hand or puts a picket to stop you, he may only be saying “stop and wait” but what you actually hear is “Wait, you ordinary worthless citizen! your time, life and business are of no value, wait! while the all important VIP passes”. It is quite similar to how when Kings and Queens passed through markets and thoroughfares, everyone and everything was brought to a halt – the only difference? those weren’t democracies.
Not only does this experience entail the pleasures of frustration and irritation for you, it also has, on occasions, caused death of the sick in ambulances stuck in traffic and birth of ordinary non-VIP babies in rikshaws and taxis. In effect, shaving 15 minutes off a VIP’s travel time has sometimes proven to be more important than a citizen’s life.
This almost royal protocol is one of the key perks of becoming a VIP in Pakistan, probably the most attractive feature too; one every wannabe VIP dreams of. The frequently raised question – why are these servants and representatives of public causing them anguish and mental torture, even loss of lives? is most popularly replied with the recently found excuse of ‘security risks’. It is the terrorist threat that forces these poor VIPs to travel in convoys, honking sirens and blocking traffic for ordinary citizens who actually face far greater and severe security threats and die thereof every day.
One wonders why a VIP’s life is more valuable than life of an ordinary citizen. A very common reply to that question is:
‘it is not the person who is important but the post that he holds‘.
So then if you separate the person from the post, aren’t the President, Prime Minister, Chief Minister, Minister, Chief Justice etc. all replaceable? And isn’t a citizen; a father, a brother, a son, a daughter, a mother irreplaceable?
If I am the head of a state where pathetic law and order situation causes citizens to be killed like diseased animals on a daily basis, my conscience would not allow me to hog a thousand security guards employed by the state for my own security. Wouldn’t it be my moral duty to ensure security of a citizen’s life and property before I secure my life or the lives of my family? Fact is I may never be a 100% motivated to improve the security situation in my country until my life or the life of my son is as exposed and threatened as the life of an ordinary citizen.
Fact is, we need to be reminded that there is no distinction, we all are VIPs and we are all ordinary citizens.