Thursday, April 12, 2012

How the Islamabad Police helps me save...

This photo (taken today) is what's wrong with us
Sorry about the misleading title. Truth is that it doesn't. In fact, virtually any government run body that has any authority over basic facilities I need to live my day as an honest, hard working, upright citizen has managed to take what basic love and respect I have for this country and flush it down the toilet. I'm angry after my drive home fr and I'll tell you why.

I came back to Pakistan thinking I would get involved, do something productive with my time, education and life. I also though the system itself was tired of being bullied and needed fresh blood to take charge and take things in a new direction. Unfortunately, not only did the war on terror kill my ambition to be an involved citizen, it also developed so much negative publicity for Pakistan that anyone with half a decent blood cell in his/her body was stamped as a "Pakistani" - the kind with a green passport. Not their fault so we should stop calling the west and others ignorant. Instead, we need to stop, check ourselves for being the 'ignorant' ones. 

For all the lies we have told generations of Pakistanis coming in from every corner of what used to be the most celebrated country in the region. Remember PIA in the 50s and 60s? How about Hockey, squash and hell yes even Cricket (a game I have since began to despise). Don't forget the ski resorts up north. My dad told me he learnt how to ski in Malam Jabba back when he was defending Pakistan with Pride. Now, I hang my head in shame - defending my pride, period. We have done this and by we I mean the last few dozens of generations. All the corrupt leaders and cronies advising those leaders. From the PMs to the Presidents, all the way down to the munshies who run your paperwork between the courts in every city. Everyone became corrupt. 

Question I had been wondering all this time was, WHY? It occurred to me not to long ago. In fact, while I was driving home just now from work (yes, at 8PM), I remembered not to take the usual route because just yesterday I found that the last intersection before my final leg was blocked off by the Islamabad Police (I'm assuming they are responsible since they want to be the big boys of everything on the road with all the check posts - another story, another time). Obviously, they aren't on twitter and they don't have a Facebook fan page so there won't be a 'timely update' when they block off another intersection and make you drive an extra couple of kilometers before having to make another awkward u-turn to get to where you would have already been had they not been such punters with road planning and other such job-like responsibilities. There's no way for them to tell me what they are up to so I can plan my route, my day, my fuel consumption better. Instead, they prefer not to help, so I end up spending more money on fuel finding a way out like a rat in a maze. They are but one of many tentacles the Government of this country will not fix or take responsibility for because it's easier that way. Can't say the next guy will do much better because the system won't allow for change - which is something I have learnt the general populous is averse to.

The kids in my apartment building; oh what a special breed of human beings. Half animal, half homosapien. Somehow, I feel their parents forgot to raise them because I've found (and this is a fact) that my two domesticated cats are far better behaved and considerate of others in communal environments than these annoying, obnoxious, noisy at all the wrong time kids. So, I ask you all to stop asking me to have kids because this is what I live around and I don't want my kids living in a place full of this. It's everywhere by the way...all up to when you disembark the plane at Dubai International Airport, where everyone follows the rules and falls single file into a disciplined line.

Today, I went to Shifa (the highly lucrative business that pretends to be a hospital). We had an appointment with a doctor, whose assistants pestered us to hell yesterday with multiple calls confirming our appointment for today. I thought these guys are uber efficient, they really want to make sure things happen like clock-work. Can't hate them for that. We got there 5 minutes before time and sat down after informing our arrival. We waited....and waited....and waited...until finally 59 minutes later (and a few angry visits to the nurses counter), we were called in. I refrained from expressing my feelings to the good Doctor, but screw that! Not even an acknowledgement of the delay or an apology? Our time is precious too! I pay you to serve me so at least respect me and the time I took out to choose you over the many others in the city!

This rule should apply across the board to all those who don't respect one another. The government is there to serve the people of this country. Our taxes keep them there, but they also make them fat on nihari, power, free fuel and electricity, not to mention all the other benefits they get out of keeping us lost with load-shedding. How is it that they get to have fun, while we pay for it and they don't? Who put them in charge and where's the sense in that?

Common sense dictates...wait, my father-in-law said it right..."there's no such thing as common sense". It took me a while to get my head around that, but now I get it. He's smart as hell. Physicist with a Phd he completed in french...and he's Pakistani! Gone are the days we were celebrated. Here are the days we are fighting the good fight to regain what we believe was ours to begin with. 

How greedy can you be to ignore that your country is falling apart like a 60 year old car that has been bandaged to hell. My 40+ year old Volkswagen beetle is in better shape than the dysfunctional system we all survive every day! 

I am sick. I am tired. I am fed up. Could this be the reason my 4 years in college built me up to be proud of being Pakistani? What happened to the old me? I wonder if I've also become part of the system that is slowly corroding away with no one to notice me. I miss the days when I could drive to and from the diplomatic enclave (or the new world as I now call it) using the French gate (aptly named since the French Embassy is at that corner). Until recently (while I still had a good reason to go there), I needed to bribe the local police SSP and his staff to get a card allowing me legal entry into the place where I once owned a home! Imagine that. I pay another countryman who otherwise won't let me go home. And the best part...he can ask for 1 amount and then another, much higher amount when you go to pay. He asked for Rs. 20k and I ended up settling at Rs. 3k (per card that is, for each family member).

My advice, don't put all your eggs in one basket. Motivate another Imran Khan to come up and show the rest how we can be the best of the best, again. How we can live with honor without destroying the moral fiber of our society and still respect India and other countries so our energy is efficiently spent in plans of real progress. Create healthy competition, make entrepreneurship a career to consider and give some flexibility to the hard working kind so they can have a reason to enjoy working and living simultaneously.

The sickness that is eating away at our very souls is becoming a part of our daily life and even with fuel prices at Rs. 100 a liter (US $1.1), and our nominal GDP per capita (which seems far from accurate) at US $1,254 (reported by the CIA world fact book), our country is not going to shit, it's swimming in it. We are below Laos and above Kyrgyzstan. We have successfully managed to scrounge, steal, burn and wastefully spend to our heart's desire, while the hard working kind keep working hard to continue living a dignified life in the vicious cycle that is a difficult life...that is until they too resort to corruption because it's an easy buck, or two. Also because it will help feed the family 3 square meals a day. Honestly? Is that even a good enough reason to be corrupt and wasteful? It would seem so when you are hungry because the rich fatsos are getting richer and fatter, creating a middle class out of the upper-middle class and a lower/have not class out of the middle and lower-middle class.


Just stop, please. Let me live a peaceful life while I still can. Even if I don't want to stay, no one else will take me. Get those politicians and wannabe superstars out of their high cars and government paid security detail out of their cars and teach a lesson for stealing from us.

All this while I defend the company I love working for.
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