We, the 99% non-VIP population, are important too

Published: July 4, 2018
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Jibran Nasir was reportedly told that he’s fortunate that he was only slapped, not shot. PHOTO: SCREENSHOT

The Sindh High Court (SHC) Judge is a very important person.

You can tell that he’s very important because he has a nice car that travels at disruptively high speed among a convoy of other large vehicles. It’s very important for us, the ordinary people, to acknowledge that the SHC Judge is an important man who makes important decisions for this country; for which we should all be grateful.

My reaction to the menacing approach of a security protocol is the same as countless of my docile countrymen. We sigh, and give way to the baraat (crowd) of armed men as a gesture of reverence that should only be reserved for ambulances and fire brigades. This is Pakistan, we remind ourselves. To drive in Pakistan, is to endure the flashing lights, loud sirens, and abusive security personnel.

This is our punishment for not being important!

I am not an important man. I’m just a doctor. My medical decisions can afford to wait indefinitely in traffic, whenever a politician, general or judge chooses to grace my usual route with his presence. Quite often, the protocols even have the chutzpah of displaying their party flags and organisation logos, so the public knows exactly who to thank.

But what if you’re feeling particularly thankful? What if you have business to attend to? Schools and colleges to get to? Hospitals to visit? Deadlines to worry about? What if you’re simply having a terrible day and don’t quite feel like accommodating the whims of an over speeding Very Important Person (VIP) using the road as his private runway?

You may end up being beaten up on the street and getting arrested, like Mohammad Jibran Nasir.

Those who assaulted and arrested Jibran did not know his credentials. They did not know that he is a distinguished candidate with an impressive political record and robust social media presence. The Judge and his security team reportedly began to back-peddle as soon as they discovered the identity of the person they had abused.

The implication here is that it would’ve been perfectly acceptable for the VIPs to brutalise an ordinary citizen, like you and me.

How many Pakistanis have been beaten up in broad daylight by VIP forces, without a camera pointed at them?

I don’t believe I have the courage to count.

Jibran was reportedly told that he’s fortunate that he was only slapped, not shot. Imagine living in a country where you’re expected to pay thanks for not being murdered by a VIP’s security team in broad daylight, on your way to the yogurt store – no trial necessary. The fact that these very own VIPs are entrusted with the noble task of establishing law and order, ought to frighten the eyebrows off a citizen’s face.

The Judge is a very important person. But we are important too!

Governors and ministers, generals and judges, don’t build a nation. It is built by engineers juggling multiple projects of public significance. It is put together by manual labourers en route to the construction site. It is a system kept intact by the diligence of nurses and lawyers, paramedics and paralegals, you and I.

VIPs may struggle to convince you otherwise, but this country’s economy is run by its 99% non-VIP population.

The protocol culture also speaks volumes about what our oligarchic overlords mean when they use the word ‘security’. That security is never for the masses. A VIP protocol hurtling hazardously along the expressway, interrupting regular traffic, its personnel using the chambers of their guns to signal other drivers to stay away, openly assaulting citizens who disobey – doesn’t seem very “secure” to me.

That “security” is exclusively the security of the institutions of power. It’s for the security of those who would sooner run over a not-so-important nine-year-old child in Lalamusa, than risk a threat to the ruling 1%.

We are important too. We don’t usually put our importance on public exhibition by inconveniencing people around us. We do not resort to dramatic displays of power.

But we are important too. And we deserve respect!

Faraz Talat

Faraz Talat

A medical doctor and bubble-wrap enthusiast from Rawalpindi, who writes mostly about science and social politics (and bubble-wrap). He tweets @FarazTalat (twitter.com/FarazTalat)

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

  • farhaj badar

    I totally agree with the writer, as everyone is equally respectable as so-called VIPs who get the prominent positions by wrong doings or being obsequious.Recommend

  • Mi ahmed

    the 1st decent Karachiites I have seen in decades ….. well done brother ….Recommend

  • Stupid Intelligent

    Jibran means good, but he’s way too emotional and needs to learn to give it a break sometime. Not everything is black and white.Recommend

  • HZR

    The curse of poor countries is the lording over the citizens by the so called VIP who are nothing but a pain on society and they should properly named as PESTSRecommend

  • Parvez

    Brilliant….just brilliant.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Good article. Kudos to the author. Good write up.
    But he forgot to mention one thing. Being a doctor
    and all… it’s called “SPINE”.
    As long as Pakistanis remain spineless and being run
    rough shod. They deserve this treatment.
    As long as Pakistanis don’t stand up for their rights
    as long as they fight among themselves, as long as
    they don’t unite, as long as it is Punjabi against Muhajjir
    Pathan against Sindhi, Baloch against Hazaras…
    they shall be little people, silly people, greedy people,
    barbarous people.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Curious situation in Pakistan!
    VVIPs get free private police protection and security protocols, but pay no taxes!
    Rest of country pays all the taxes but gets hardly any police protection!Recommend

  • Patwari

    No, they don’t. The Supreme Court rescinded that.
    Politicians must pay for their own security now. No
    more undue or frivolous/unwarranted police protocols.
    They took away the govt. provided luxury autos too.
    That the politicians were hogging.
    Judges must be provided police protection. For very
    obvious reasons.
    SHOULD WE GO INTO INDIAN CHIEF JUSTICE
    DIPAK MISRA’S IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS?
    And Hindustan’s BLACK ECONOMY? [Taxes involved]
    How about Modi Sarkar banning Rs.500/Rs,1000 bills?
    Wiping out a hefty chunk of the Bharati economy in days.
    Since Hinduland is the most dangerous country in the
    world for women, do you think Bharati police protects
    women? Any women,… desi or foreign?
    [have you heard the expression,…’physician heal thyself’?]Recommend

  • gp65

    Reuters was asked to provide the data to support their report that India is the most dangerous country for women. They said it was not based on data but perception. Perception of 600 people globally and not selected randomly. If such a report gives support to your conclusions – fine.
    By the way, there are no grounds for India to be complacent. A lot more needs to be done to empower women. However be it participation in economy, mobility or literacy levels, Indian women are more empowered than Pakistani women.
    As far as demonetization is concerned, it allowed Indian tax authorities to identitiy 1.8 million individuals with wealth beyond known resources and also helped shut down 300,000 shell companies. The direct taxes grew by 20% in a year that economy only grew by 6.7% so that shows that it was effective in the goal of formalizing the Indian economy.
    Despite demonetization, GST and many other structural reforms, there is a significant portion of Indian economy which is black and so ongoing reforms as well as utilization of technology effectively are needed to the economy and improve the tax to GDP ratio.
    Modi government also got rid of lal battis for VIPS and now only the President of India and CJ of SC are entitled to that. No one else.
    Dipak Misra’s impeachment had no basis other than Congress trying to push back corruption case of National Herald against Sonia and Rahul. It was no different from Musharraf reference against your then chief justice. It did not work.Recommend

  • Patwari

    The whole world is wrong. Hindustan is always right. Always.
    Everyone else is wrong. Even those in Papua/New Guinea
    Shining Hindustan, Rising Hindustan, Saffron Hindustan.
    It’s all a conspiracy against Bharat. Fake media. Fake statistics.
    Fake journalist. Fake social scientists. Reuters must be owned by
    Pak Muslims. [maybe by Al Jazeera,…hhmmmnn?
    All to prevent Hindustan from building this Huge Hindutva Mothership,
    to reach Mars, colonize it and populate it with Hindustanis.
    There, see, “done gone have a Bharat Jr. In the Milky Way Galaxy.
    Modi Sarkar, the Vermillion Lord, is Bhagavaan ka upahaar. He can do
    no wrong. Hail Modi Sarkar. May he live long and torture Muslims longer
    Yup, Shades of Trump coming alive here.
    Question:- why in the world would Hinduland want to identify nearly two
    million individuals.with wealth beyond means. It will take 7 reincarnations
    to prosecute and bring them to justice. By that time they will find more
    loopholes. What purpose would it serve? Get a measly Rs.6.75 in the treasury? Rumor has it from reliable sources that Jashodeben Chiminlal’s
    husband’s policies are not worth the paper they are written on. Mass panic Even Sushma is scared. And shell companies! They are a way of life! In just about every civilized country with a credible banking system. They are needed. They are a tool of commerce. Nothing devious there.
    Scott Pruitt has some too.Recommend

  • Zulfiqar Khan

    Mr Jibran Nasir your Social Activism for Social Change is more effective than your participate in Politics….because Pakistan need Major Social reform more than Political Reform or change…Recommend