- Social justice cannot be put on backburner
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s presence at the passing-out parade of Islamabad police was an occasion when one least expected him to devote a good part of his speech to berating the leadership of the PML(N) and the PPP. At a time when the country’s economy is under severe pressure while Pakistan is also in the grip of the coronavirus’ second wave and its student community has already lost months of instruction, there is a need on the part of the PM to pay undivided attention to these grave national issues. It was natural on this occasion for the Islamabad police to ask the PM to bring their pays at the level of their colleagues in Punjab. Telling them that the expenditure of the PM House had been reduced by 60-70 percent would hardly satisfy them, or for that matter the man in the street when the PM himself acknowledges that the people of the country are facing unprecedented inflation. While it is good to tell the police to reform their conduct, become people-friendly and perform their duties to protect the life and property of the people, it is equally necessary to remove their genuine grievances related to salary structure.
Telling people to wait patiently till the national wealth increases would not satisfy those finding it already difficult to make ends meet. PM Khan’s ideal, Ayub Khan, tried to sell the trickle-down theory which requires accumulation of wealth in the hands of the industrialists and businessmen as a precondition for the common man’s prosperity. While the proverbial 21 families flourished under Ayub, the people suffered from rising prices, unemployment and rampant corruption which led to the mass movement that overthrew him. There is a need on the part of the PM to follow instead in the footsteps of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah who had serious concern for the economic and social uplift of the masses. The Quaid visualized a major role of the public sector in fair distribution of the resources between the haves and have-nots, advocated social justice and a democratic welfare state.