Published On: Sat, Dec 22nd, 2018

VIP culture – we are the victims of this mindset, but we are also the culprits. Guilty of promoting this awful culture.

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By Faizah Gilani

A Samaa TV cameraman was attacked outside Parliament by a security guard working for former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif. The attack was unprovoked and the kick so severe, leaving the cameraman on the floor until others rushed to his aide. He was eventually taken to hospital. This unfortunate incident reflects Pakistani society. It sums up how the rich, powerful and elite see themselves as above anyone and anything, even the law. It is a mindset of those who believe that they can get away with anything because they have power on their side. The poor cameraman was only carrying out his duty. He was simply doing his job and the reaction from the security guard was completely uncalled for.

This incident is not the first of its kind and will certainly not be the last. So, it is unsurprising. But it does begin to make me question whether we as people, as a society, will ever change. Yes, most of us truly want to see a ‘Naya Pakistan’ where all people are equal, and those that are unjust or abuse their power are held accountable. But it also makes me wonder, is it even possible? VIP culture and self-entitlement have become so deep rooted within our culture, it is difficult to see how it can be eradicated from society. Even if laws are strengthened, even if strict action takes place, changing this mentality of self-entitlement seems like a seriously tough task which is not going to change any time soon. It is almost as if we as people have become so accustomed to it, it no longer surprises us or causes outrage.

And we are all to blame for this mess. We are all responsible because we allowed things to progress to this stage. We have allowed VIPs to hurl abuse at bakery staff in the past, we have allowed traffic wardens to use violence against motorists. We have allowed politicians to get away with their big cars hitting pedestrians on the way, all in the name of protocol. Had we not taken this so easy in the past, perhaps our present state would have been a whole lot better. But the worst part in all of this is that there does not seem to be a solution in sight. The security guard that attacked the cameraman will probably be fired from his job and given something else to do. The actions of the security guard were unjustified. But he is not the main culprit. The problem is with the top dogs that hire these security guards to act like thugs.

Politicians, bureaucrats, VIPs, the rich and powerful – they are fully aware of how their staff behave towards the common man and woman. They are not oblivious to it, they just simply do not care. Within the western world, no one would even dare to brazenly get away with such behaviour, as they would be aware of public outrage and ultimately the consequences. Unfortunately for us as a society, there is no real fear of backlash. An incident becomes news one day and forgotten the very next. Here the media is partly responsible. It will cover an incident an entire day with talk shows filled with similar topics, but there is no follow up. Incidents like the attack on the cameraman should be kept in the news long enough for it to be acted upon or at least taken notice of. But a mere apology is simply not good enough.

Again, this is not a problem with one political party alone, or an issue related to politicians only. Those with money and power think that it is their birth right to be above the law and above everyone else that is less fortunate than them. This is something for the present government to think about and work on. Prime Minister Imran Khan has always spoken firmly against VIP culture and promised that his government would break this trend. But it is very difficult to get the entire party in line over this. Since coming into power, we have witnessed several high-profile ministers with protocol and enjoying VIP culture. And nothing can really be done about it, simply because it is now deep rooted in how the country operates. No matter how much Khan Sahib opposes this culture, it can never really be stopped. This culture has developed over the years and is now difficult to separate from our social structure.

This situation is infuriating, but also very depressing. It is depressing to see how big people feel that the common man and woman are beneath them, that they have less or no value at all. It is heart breaking that we have become a society where our position and bank balance determines our value and significance. Every single individual within a society holds importance. No matter how small his or her role, we all work within our own capacity to see that a nation functions properly. But the germs of self-entitlement, this arrogance and snobbish attitude has become so ingrained within our minds, we cannot look beyond this now. At the end of the day, we are all victims of this mindset, but we are also the culprits, guilty of promoting this awful culture.

 

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