It is unfortunate to be living in Pakistan when the political, economic, and social climate have all deteriorated to the point where questioning, objecting, and criticizing produce nothing but confusion and ‘dirty responses.’ People in the country are on the verge of adopting an anomic attitude. Thus, under the guise of “freedom of choice,” they display their puppet mentalities.
The troubling example, in this regard, is the people’s illogical and irrational collaborations with ‘elites,’ the illogical support to people with high social status and the illogical backing to ‘influencers’ who have a say in politico-economic matters. It is disturbing to see a significant portion of the population ready to be puppets to influential people by making ‘PR,’ to ‘survive.’ People have gone blind to apparent corruption, illegal practices, and infringement of fundamental rights. They only engage in ways that lead them to make money to survive in this rising inflation that is sucking the blood out of poor people’s veins like a vampire sucking on a living creature’s blood.
It is also worth noting that some emerging writers, influencers, and activists conveniently ignore cases that loudly demonstrate the country’s economy and violation of domestic law and international legal obligations but proudly raise voices on mundane issues and ‘spicy gossip’ that have the potential to attract the hollow minds and capability to become ‘Twitter trends,’ in the hopes of becoming stars overnight.
Another issue that depicts people’s puppetry and powerlessness to combat poverty as a result of economic and political crises is their use of social media. Individuals with good academic credentials, or more exactly, those who managed to get into good institutions through the ‘sacrifices’ of their bread earners, are looking to make a ‘name’ for themselves through TikTok, Instagram reels, Facebook memes, and contentious tweets. Young people are desperate to generate money, to earn a life where everything is sorted in the blink of an eye.
New graduates can be seen walking aimlessly in quest of good employment, prospects, and ‘that one gig’ to prove themselves. Failing to do so encourages them to become a part of the system that they once condemned on Twitter out of ‘child-like optimism and zeal’ to alter the system after they have ‘graduated,’ but they too become the elite’s “yes men” as a result of the system. Consequently, some people become someone’s advisors, personal managers, assistants, ‘go do this work’ guys, and so on. So, great minds that could have invented new products launched new enterprises, drafted regulations, and legislated on issues are squandered, and the country’s growth is stifled right there.
The question here is, why is the culture of ‘yes man’ rising? Why is everyone racing to become an overnight sensation? Why are educated people ignoring their degrees and focusing on building a name for themselves in professions that may provide them with ‘popularity, fame, and money,’ albeit through illegal means? Why is it that everyone wants power, whether it’s power through monetary gains, power through some ‘elite title,’ or power through becoming someone’s ‘puppet?’ Why are people merely surviving and not living? Why is everything too little for them? Why do people regard the cup as half empty and not half full?
The answer is the country they live in, a country with a discriminatory culture, a country where the powerful have a say, a country where the elite rule, a country where money defines fate, a country where regressive taxation is openly practiced, a country where the average after-tax salary only covers living expenses for 0.5 months only, a country where financial inclusion is stagnant, a country where only 10% of the population has bank accounts, a country with one of the lowest Human Development Index (HDI) in Asia, a country where inclusive and democratic institutions are lacking, where acceptance and inclusion of ‘less privileged people,’ is practiced conveniently, where millions of people, including men, women, and transgender people, do not have National ID cards, a country where people have to rely on ‘elites,’ to make a commendation and recommendation to get ‘things done,’ a country where 31% of graduates are unemployed, a country that ranks 140th out of 180 on Transparency International’s Corruption Index 2022, a place where nepotism and corruption rules, social connections matters and meritocracy is put to rest.
Thus, it is evident that the core causes of a country’s undemocratic culture are corruption, bribery, disparities in income and wealth distribution, and the absence of transparency and accountability of the elite. In this context, it is the obligation of the country’s policymakers, key drivers of the state, and other stakeholders to take this topic into account and create inclusive policies that benefit the entire society regardless of social class.
Anti-corruption and anti-bribery policies must be updated collaboratively. Whilst there is currently a Prevention of Corruption Act, the manner in which anti-corruption regulations are enforced makes a difference. The top echelon must practice what they teach in order to eradicate the culture of bribery in the guise of ‘gifts, sponsorships,’ and corruption totally. This will improve a country’s equity and stability. In addition, progressive taxes must be imposed. It will benefit the economy as a whole since low-wage earners will be less burdened, wealth will be more evenly distributed, and the lower-income class will be safeguarded from unfair taxation. This, in turn, will productively govern the economic cycle.
Stakeholders must ensure stable social and economic progress by increasing non-banking microfinance services to assist unemployed and low-income individuals. This will accommodate those with low financial resources, make people less concerned about their spending, and prevent them from becoming ‘elites’ puppets.
These efforts, when combined with additional initiatives already in the works to improve the country’s economic and social climate, have the potential to provide people with a sigh of relief. The focus must not be on how much or how little is done; instead, concentration must be on short-term objectives because only baby steps lead to pinnacles of sustainable success.
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