No free lunch?

For the ruling elite clung to power, as a matter of their enigmatic right, the country has been more than a free lunch


Ali Hassan Bangwar October 02, 2022
The writer is a freelancer based in Kandhkot, Sindh. He can be reached at [email protected]

When I was preparing for the CSS exams two years ago, I used to practise writing essays. Of all the topics I had written on, the one that inspired me was ‘There ain’t any such thing as a free lunch’. This quotation would attest my belief that it’s only hard work that brings success. Only those who put in effort enjoy the results. I believe the CSS demands a submissive and unrealistically optimistic approach. Thus, it prejudiced me toward the literal or overt thesis of the topic. I was disillusioned by the dynamics of the exams, my personal over-optimism and the principles of scientific discourse. I then believed that everything costs something. However, I gradually realised that though this principle might work in scientific realms or in societies with decisive leadership, Pakistan presents a glaring exception where oddity reigns supreme and most of the laws of the land have been reduced to exceptions.

In our country, everything is free for some while something costs everything for others. For the ruling elite, clung to power, as a matter of their enigmatic right, the country has been more than a free lunch. It’s rather a feast guarded by power brokers, organised by the elite where the country’s resources serve as the food and the public as caterers. The elite has been mercilessly feeding on the very blood and bone of the country. Perhaps, the greatest irony is that this ruthless exploitation continues unhindered in the name of democracy, security, national interests, justice, public services and religion.

This is evident from the concentration of national resources in the hands of a chronically imposed aristocratic lot. Do you think they alone are equipped with superhuman capabilities to run (read ruin) the country? Yes, and no. Yes, because they outwit us by playing tricks on different pretexts. No, because they have displayed their epic inefficiency over the last seven and a half decades now. The avaricious and megalomaniac elites have embezzled the country and brought it to the brink of collapsing from the burden of foreign debt and internal fragility. And the public should not be under the illusion that they have used the debt the country owes in public services. Realistically speaking, they have transformed the country into a banana republic and thrown it into rudderless realms. They have done so by hacking the country’s democracy and constitution and hijacking the fate of the public.

One might ask what services they rendered to the country in the last 75 years. The answer is: they have been feasting on the country for their self-serving services which bring riches to themselves alone at the cost of those who should be the real beneficiaries. They enjoy tax exemptions, subsidies, financial favours, luxurious vehicles, fortified cottages, VVIP security, foreign trips and free utilities. Their children get an education from foreign universities only to return and maintain the malignant status quo. Their medical treatment is done abroad, with all lavish expenses borne from the taxpayer money.

Unlike the rest of the world where making the public socio-economically self-sufficient is the utmost priority of the leadership, our esteemed leaders have socio-economically improvised the public through carefully-crafted self-serving policies. Resultantly, the dream of inclusive socio-economic prosperity and self-sufficiency and the concept of a welfare state have remained a distant reality. The elites have been selling the destitute masses the false hope of prosperity as a ploy to prolong the plutocracy since the country’s inception.

Amidst the bleak national scenario, the growing sense of public weariness of chronic blind compliance is indeed good news. The gradual public enlightenment has been weakening the elitist clutches. Therefore, the hybrid power elite needs to realise that a status quo, built on sheer deception and hypocrisy, is no longer sustainable in the 21st century.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2022.

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