Jamshed Dasti: We get it, you are powerful.

Published: July 30, 2013

When you try to get out of a speeding ticket, by using your title and your armed guards, you make it okay, by default, for every man to get an illegal connection from KESC. PHOTO: INP/FILE

I wrote my first blog for The Express Tribune about two years ago. I wrote it with high expectations, wrote it with all my heart and wrote it with the hope that the readers would feel it resonate with their daily lives. The comments surprised me to no end.

How could the average man think that people in power deserve privileges that defy the norms of decency?

Maybe it is just the first instinct of every reader to say, “No, you’re wrong, here’s what I think and clearly my opinion is better and your blog deserves a place in the lowest rungs of hell!” or perhaps it is just us Pakistanis who tend to rationalise the behaviour of the people we idolise. Perhaps I have come a full circle, perhaps nothing really changes in the human condition because here I am writing about yet another powerful man, claiming yet again, that his privileges are above everyone else’s.

What interests me now in writing a blog like this again is to address a certain MNA and many others like him who think that the rest of us are children of a lesser God. The rule of law is paramount for a state to run smoothly and if it’s very lawmakers attempt to break those laws, the rest of us have little hope to save this country from epic failure.

Regardless of how high your position is in parliament, regardless of how much money you have in your bank, regardless of how many people Mr Dasti has helped, regardless of just how many people are working under your thumb, regardless of just how many votes you got at the end of an election, you are not above the law. No one is.

Jamshed Dasti is a man I like.

He’s someone I would vote for. He’s often known as “15” in his constituency because he hops on his bike and comes straight to help you, irrelevant of day, hour and moment. The son of a labourer and a part time wrestler, Jamshed Dasti is a wonderful rags-to-riches story Hollywood can make a summer blockbuster about.

But then of course, if we give it a touch of life, once he gets elected, the bike is replaced with a Hilux and all this power goes to our protagonist’s head and he ends up telling Motorway Police that he can get them transferred to Balochistan, which is also a fate worse than the lowest rungs of hell.

Mr Dasti was stopped by the Motorway Police on the Swabi Interchange for speeding. He threatened the police officers with transfers to the no-man’s-land for having the nerve to give him a fine of Rs700. He told them they didn’t know who he was and they ought not to have the audacity to stop speeding ministers.

Eventually, after giving threats and spats, and the regular exchange of pleasantries that is perhaps just as common in Pakistan after an argument with the traffic police (perhaps as common as the common man in Pakistan), the MNA finally gave the Rs700 fine and went off.

Whether or not he will speed again or get the poor officers transferred to Balochistan is another story.

This is exactly the kind of hope that we have when we elect someone we relate to. We expect them to understand that MNAs with protocol and shrieking sirens shouldn’t scare people. We expect them to stay within the law, set examples that when a common man is elected, he doesn’t repeat the mistakes of the elite, he continues being the common man.

Unless of course the dream you are selling to the common man is on the contrary to what we expect; “Get elected – so you can get out of speeding tickets!” instead of “Get elected – so you can end corruption!”.

The young men and women of Pakistan have a new dream now. All thanks to you and the many others who make power a get-out-of-jail-free card. We didn’t expect this from a man who defeated a powerful family like the Khars and we certainly didn’t expect it from a man who rose from nothing, not even a cent to his name.

When you try to get out of a speeding ticket, by using your title and your armed guards, you make it okay, by default, for every man to get an illegal connection from KESC; you make it okay for people for committing bank frauds; you make it okay for politicians to take money from faulty engineers and build flimsy bridges; you make it okay for every man to cheat, swindle and threat anyone that they possibly can.

So thank you for that, MNA Sahab. Life in Pakistan suddenly makes more sense now. The Pakistani dream has a new meaning:

Become an MNA, get out of speeding tickets.


Mahwash Badar

The author is a clinical psychologist, a mum to two boys and permanently in a state of flux. She tweets @mahwashajaz_ (twitter.com/mahwashajaz_)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.