Dear PTI, remember when you vowed to end VIP culture? Well, meet Faisal Vawda!

Published: February 1, 2017
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Faisal Vawda riding a motorbike in Zamzama, Karachi. PHOTO: TWITTER/@ZeshanMalick

Although Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has been in existence for over 20 years, but politically it really arrived in 2011 with one big rally in Lahore. The sheer size of the rally finally created a perception that it was “viable” to vote for the party and following that many who had merely ”respected” Imran Khan before, threw their weight behind him.

An overwhelming number of these “new” voters belong to Pakistan’s white collar urban middle class which has become the core support base of the party. Over the past five years, it is no surprise that PTI has ended up articulating their political concerns.

The dominant political concerns among this class are “corruption”, “patriotism”, “governance” and the end of the so-called “VIP culture”. Many PTI supporters, young and impassioned, often raise these issues on social media and are often judging leaders of other parties with excessive harshness, giving them titles such as corrupt patwaris etc.

On Twitter, prominent journalists are even mistreated and trolled if they take an opposing view with respect to PTI. Liberals in particular are hated and accused of being “sell-outs” and “anti-Pakistan”.

PTI trolls’ entire behaviour reeks of excessive self-righteousness and gives the impression that all except their party are seriously flawed. Given the strength of their negative opinions about other political leaders and parties, one would expect that their beloved party would be setting an example of moral uprightness on the issues it highlights.

For example, the so-called VIP culture is one such issue. Many PTI supporters think that it is a serious issue which should be highlighted in the national political discourse. Several of my friends (as many are PTI supporters) were literally crying with rage when in December 2015, the news emerged that a 10-month-old girl named Bisma had died due to Bilawal Bhutto’s protocol. On social media, just like during the Thar crisis, Bilawal Bhutto was once again called a murderer and the VIP culture was blamed for most of Pakistan’s ill. PTI Chief, Imran Khan, went one step ahead and announced that in order to set an example, he would stop using protocol.

After Bisma’s death, one of the PTI leaders to visit the aggrieved family for condolence was PTI leader, Faisal Vawda.

So one would expect this party of die-hard “patriots” and “principled” citizens to set an example of what they preach. Sadly, this is not so. Recently, a video has been making rounds on social media, showing Faisal Vawda riding a heavy bike through Zamzama in Karachi while being escorted by his protocol of four police vehicles.

The utter brazenness of this act is amplified by the fact that he was not on any official duty and was merely out for a drive on his heavy bike to enjoy Karachi’s rarely pleasant weather. Furthermore, he was diverting the already scarce police resources in a city where the crime rate, despite coming down due to the recent Karachi operation, still remains high.

He claims that his life is under constant threat, and yet how a police escort could protect him when he was riding an open bike defies my imagination. It was, in short, nothing but an arrogant display of power and prestige – the real reason why we have excessive protocol in Pakistan.

He even had the audacity to claim that people are merely “jealous” and are making an issue of a “routine” ride.