Prosperity yet to Trickle Down in Pakistan

He wished to enter a street in Aabpaara, Islamabad, but the cops insisted that only private vehicles were allowed. “Why you folks change rules every day to please your âÂ?¦.,” he hurled the question right into the face of the policeman but didn’t wait for answer and changed his way.

The cab driver, seventy-three, was in good health. He drove me 25 km from a point in Islamabad to my rented-home. He has three sons and works from dawn to dusk along with them to meet bread and butter for his expanding family.

If you can’t afford to buy a car, you have to pay daily for your traveling. This is what I am doing for the last five years. Living on the margin of the capital, I have never been able to convince myself that I should utilize the public transport service for the simple reason that minibuses and wagons are overcrowded. I know I can save Rs. 2000 a month but I wish not because many cab drivers wait for me to make their first trip to the heart of the city.

Back in my village in Bahawalpur the one bag of DAP is being sold by the fertilizer dealer at Rs. 1100. My younger brother, one of 95% of farmers who hold only 5% of the cultivatable lands, says recent raise in support price of wheat will only benefit feudals. He complains of his falling share in the canal water due to Punjab government’s obsession to increase the size of agricultural lands. He has still to pay a ZTBL’s loan he got three years before.

The old man I have just mentioned remembers well the days when Marshal Ayub Khan made his decision to shift Capital to Rawalpindi. The Murree Road, he said, was only six feet wide and there was only one hotel at Committee Chowk. People used to travel on tongaas; cars were rarely visible on the road.

When Islamabad became capital, its roads were better and well managed. These were the days when the political leaders like Zulfiqar Bhutto liked to mix up with people. Sometimes he would visit a tea house in Rawalpindi and chat with the common people. Islamabadites used to line up on the roads to wave their hands to him. “We have got no leader of his stature,”Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½the old manÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½said insisting that he was really interested in improving the lot of the poor.

His father used to transport scrap for the first steel mill of the Sharif family in Lahore. He remembers very well that the father of ex-premier used to work himself along with his assistance. The lot of the family changed when Zia-ul-Haq declared Nawaz Sharif as his son. The number of factories multiplied till the death of the Mard-i-Momin. He had no good feelings of this family who probably drove his father out of job.

The cab driver believed that the haves in the country are not in favour of improving the lot of the have-nots. He doubted their intentions, for they were in the habit of earning interest from the banks rather than circulating money in the society through doing business. He wondered as to how one can expect growth of industry in the country when the capitalists were not ready to enhance purchasing power of the labourers.

In his opinion the country has been hijacked by few corrupt souls. For it, he blamed none but the people themselves. “We are in the habit of taking out rallies against gentle and sober leaders but sit in our homes when rough souls rule the roost,” he said. Maybe, his opinion is manipulated by activists of one or the other party; maybe, his immediate interests have made him to favour a particular ideology.

When he’s gone back I am impelled to think about a Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½people-friendly’ government. For the last five years it has patronized big businesses in a hope that they will share their profits with the society through indulging in welfare activities and paying better wages.

The economic policies for the last five years have only encouraged monopolies,who have a known anti-people tendency. No sane person can think of trickle-downs in imperfect markets. Shifting from one role to another is not that difficult if a government thinks it has to act on behalf of the people rather than the likes of oil firms and automakers.

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