Published On: Wed, Nov 28th, 2012

The Rich and the powerful Vs the common man

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By Faizah Gilani

A young bakery worker in Lahore was subjected to severe beating and public humiliation after refusing to serve a female customer. The bakery had been closed at the time when the female customer came in to purchase some items. After being refused the lady insulted the young boy who was later beaten by her guards. That lady was none other than Rabia Imran, the daughter of Punjab’s Chief Minister, Shahbaz Sharif.

The Elite Force stormed into the bakery, damaged the property and later abducted the worker and physically assaulted him, upon the orders of the CM’s daughter. All of this was captured on CCTV camera. Barring one or two news channels, this story has not received proper coverage due to Punjab government’s alleged intervention to stop this from leaking out in public. But now that this incident has been reported, Punjab government has said that it will take action against the guards.

This sort of reaction is very typical of those with power. They never own up to their mistakes and easily wiggle their way out by making a scapegoat of others. But this mindset is incredibly dangerous and has been very damaging for Pakistani society. Whoever has seen the footage will surely be shocked at the barbarism of the guards that targeted the poor innocent boy whose only crime was to refuse Shahbaz Sharif’s daughter custom. But even then one cannot blame the guards for what they have done.

Those guards were carrying out what they thought was duty and if action is taken then it should be carried out against Mrs. Rabia Imran. This display of intolerant and arrogant behaviour is unacceptable, that too from a lady whose father is at such a high position. This is simply a classic example of power being abused but it needs to stop. Those people belonging to wealthy and powerful families live as though they are above the law. They roam around in big cars and believe that they are untouchable. And the recent incident in Lahore highlights this point. A bakery boy has no standing in front of the CM’s daughter. Whether or not he has done anything wrong does not matter at all. The fact that he was up against wealth and power automatically handicapped him.

The unfortunate part to all of this is the fact that Shahbaz Sharif has not taken action against the real culprits. And there are no guesses for why he will not do so. But had he taken the right step and brought the real culprits to justice, he would have won over many hearts by this action. There are no two ways about this. The CCTV footage is clear cut evidence of what had taken place. All that Mr Sharif had to do was to admit and accept that his own family behaved in an atrocious manner. Sadly this has not been the case and it is only a matter of time that this entire incident will be swept under the royal carpet of the Punjab government and will be eventually be forgotten.

But Mrs. Rabia Imran is not the only individual to behave in this manner and she will not be the last. It is a mindset that has developed in Pakistani society over many years now and as cynical as it may sound, cannot be altered. The rich and powerful and those with political connections live in their own bubble. They do not see anything or anyone beyond their own status and if someone has to be crushed under their ego then so be it. What we have seen from the CM’s daughter is a practice which has been going on for far too long now and is considered the norm. But that is no justification for it happening. The law in Pakistan was never made for the rich and powerful. Time and again we see politicians dodge court appearances and jail sentences simply because of who they are. What they have done never matters. But it is high time that the laws are strengthened or amended in Pakistan and that the Supreme Court intervenes. This is not a small matter. It is frightening to see people get away with things simple because they have a well known surname or the backing of someone higher up. Everyone should be accountable for his or her actions, not just the poor. We all live in the same society. Living in grand bungalows and driving around in blacked out windows does not make anyone any different. Whoever commits a crime should be punished. Everyone is equal in the eyes of the law. Sadly these affluent families are hell bent on crushing its eyeballs with power. Mrs Rabia Imran is from a well known family and there is no doubt that her father and uncle are extremely popular and well followed political personalities. However, that does not suggest that she is above the law. The severe mistreatment of the bakery boy was due to her therefore she is directly responsible for whatever happened. There is no use hiding behind a surname, it will not fool anyone. And Shahbaz Sharif should do what is right. He should keep in mind that there are many people that respect him and look up to the party from which he belongs.  People see everything and are aware of what is going on. He should remember that.

The divide between the rich and the poor, the powerful and the common man is growing day by day. And these sorts of incidents highlight the divide and remind us all that power and wealth is the most dangerous weapon in Pakistani society. The laws are made for everyone barring those that have a name. It makes one angry to see what is happening but reality is that nothing can really be done. This is an old age practice which will we shall continue to see, unless someone decides to take drastic steps to change this. But the chance of that happening is just as slim as the chances of the bakery boy getting justice. So let us not hold our breaths

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