The ‘Aam Aadmi’ in Pakistan struggles with his halal earnings

Published: July 17, 2016

Does the government even have any plans to steer the budget towards increasing allocation to education and health sectors and limit our financial debt while increasing taxation on the affluent class who drive Audis and Range Rovers? PHOTO: THINGLINK

My name is ‘Aam Aadmi’ (literally a ‘common man’) and I am a 35-year-old with two children. I live in the not-so posh areas of Karachi with a monthly income of Rs50,000 per month. I used to take pride in being a middle-class citizen of Pakistan. My life revolves around the first of every month – supposedly salary day. By the end of the first week of each month, my salary disappears from my account and I go through the ordeal of an 8 to 6 job, which, if you live in Karachi, extends to an 8 to 8 since it takes 1.5 hours to reach home.

I call myself a proud Pakistani and at every debating corner, I have resolved my beliefs to stick to my beloved country and shun the much orgasmic obsession with immigration for a local citizen. Be it obeying the traffic signals, paying parking fees or standing in the queue at the corrupted government departments etc. I have done my duty as a honourable citizen, but has the government of Pakistan done its duty towards its inhabitants?

Not at all.

My interest in the well-being – or lack thereof – of my country compels me to read the newspapers and keep an eye on the government’s affairs despite our turbulent relationships, as a separated spouse would do for the sake of the common factor – children. My children are the children of the state and will either make this country proud or hope for immigration themselves. Albeit, with growing inward-looking policies, coupled with rise of anti-immigration politicking in Europe, I doubt the countries will be welcoming immigrants. Thus, our next generation ought to be the backbone of the country (at least in theory).

Then comes the budget announcement every year, and we see the ‘Aam Aadmi’ being ignored once again.

Measures, such as, increasing duties on mobile phones, increasing taxes on bottled water (that my wife keeps insisting on for our children’s hygiene) just complicate our miserable life even further. In the past, I used to invest in a Rs1,000 committee per month, hoping to get a lump-sum amount for expenditures, but it seems the forced saving will be said good-bye to as well. So called incentives in the form of tax credit on blah blah investment – house loan, mutual funds, health insurance etc – are measures helping people who have a savings buffer, not the ‘Aam Aadmi’ with a deficit hole.

Confessing the truth, we cannot switch on the ACs as our incomes are of a third world country and our electricity costs are higher than developed markets. We save that ‘luxury’ to divert it to exorbitantly absurd level of tuition and school fees. Last month, my son fell sick owing to a viral infection and the treatment at a mediocre private hospital was for Rs8,000. As a halal earning father, I opted not to borrow but to sell my android phone and settle for lower grade to meet the medicinal expenses.

I have defended my country at every point, but isn’t it my governments responsibility to provide quality education and health facilities through the public sector? How long will millions of fathers remain frustrated at themselves? How long will they remain cranky at home for not being able to provide the luxuries they see their rich brothers offering their children?

Does the government even have any plans to steer the budget towards increasing allocation to education and health sectors and limit our financial debt while increasing taxation on the affluent class who drive Audis and Range Rovers? Or will I be left at the mercy of my current boss who keeps telling me,

“If you quit, I have candidates who would be willing to take your job at a lesser salary.”

These things keep me up at night. If the Sharifs, Bhuttos and Khans had answers, then I could save another Rs250/month that I spend on popping a sleeping pill every night to escape from reality.

An eternally struggling,

Aam Aadmi

Arslaan Asif Soomro

Arslaan Asif Soomro

The author has a degree in Investment Management from Cass Business School, London and has also obtained CFA and FRM qualifications. He is currently working as a Senior Advisor to Swedish based Tundra Fonder AB.

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

  • Dipak Mehta

    Because people have always been governed by luxury loving Military and Mullahs.Recommend

  • uk

    Dear Writer. I can feel your pain. That’s why I decided and was lucky enough to migrate out of my home land leaving my parents and loved ones behind just to provide a better quality of life to my children. I live in Denmark and the state provides clean water, affordable education, free health facilities, cheap housing and other benefits to deserving people regardless of whether you are a Danish citizen or an immigrant . people. This is how a Muslim/Islamic state was supposed to be.

    I have thought about coming back to Pakistan a number of times but I decided not to due to all the problems that you have mentioned in your article. But as I am not on a permanent residence here, I spend each day worrying about the time when I have to come back to Pakistan and live a miserable life again in the so called ‘Islamic Republic of Pakistan.’ At this point of time, I just wish the Army would take over and get rid of all those who have made Pakistan a ‘hell hole.’ May Allah help us all. Ameen!Recommend

  • ABC

    Thank you for writing on the real problems of a hard working common man of Pakistan. Normally on Tribune we see blogs all about if covering head or not is our problem or pseudo Feminists blogs etc kind of unimportant issues.Recommend

  • Desi

    Totally agreed with the writer. However its strange that the writer being a graduate from london and having a certificate in CFA is getting just 50k per month. Recommend

  • M500

    The problem is twofold, one, perception of reality, and the inability to see that your own life is far better than many others within Pakistan, and that things can and will get better, provided you keep the optimism. When that optimism is lost, even if you get much more money after that, You won’t get any satisfaction, due to the change in your mindset. – And two when people think they are entitled to x,y, and z. Entitlement to go to a private hospital, drive an audi etc. Get it through your head. The politicians do not have, and will not give you the answers. The change comes from the people, from individuals on the ground, who create and enforce that change. Go talk to any Pakistanis that live in Texas, and they’ll tell you about what the Govts role is, and what it should and shouldn’t provide! – Also, when you fail to mention the giant “elephant” in the room in Karachi (controlled from London), when talking about why things are in such a bad state, its not giving a full and accurate picture.

    ET will probably block this comment as it goes against the agenda.Recommend

  • LibertarianPakistani

    Ermm, Denmark is only able to do that, due to the fact that a) the govt is transparent (very little corruption, fraud etc, AND the fact that the people have ZERO TOLERANCE for corruption, fraud etc..). The issue in Pakistan is, certain people/groups will defend corrupt politicians to the end of the earth….Maybe because that politician gave them a laptop… or because that politician is from the same ethnic group as them… You can’t buy people with laptops in Denmark.

    b) Danish people pay very high taxes, which people in Pakistan simply won’t pay, because the politicians at the top don’t pay their taxes, when trying to enforce the paying of taxes for others, which is further exacerbated by the Panama Leaks….

    Pakistan does not need to create such a welfare state, what Pakistan needs is a government that enforces security, and deals with the absolute basics, low taxes, and stays out of trying to provide people with housing, healthcare..etc Because thats just an excuse to do more corruption over here.

    Let the free market, or cooperatives deal with housing, healthcare etc.

    Life doesn’t have to be miserable in Pakistan, provided you have the right approach, perception and mindset. Its not all binary, west = good, Pakistan = miserable.

    Your last point about the army is excellent. I agree. It just facilitates the conditions for growth to occur at a much faster pace. Instead of all the riff-raff, “naya pakistan”, “qadam barhao”, “sher aaya”, “sher hamara”!!Recommend

  • Hippo

    Im sorry to say..but janab why have kids when you cant afford it… Recommend

  • omer

    He not talking about himself. Recommend

  • Anwaar


  • Anwaar

    *another facepalm*Recommend

  • Anwaar

    “let Army takeover” … how has army take over ever helped Pakistan? .. care to explain… they were the OTHER kind of mismanagement that we are suffering now….Recommend