The Elite and the Masses
In form, Pakistan is a democracy; in practice, it is an oligarchy. The ruling groups – civil servants, politicians, lawyers, and a few industrialists, educators, and military officers – have much in common. All can speak English and are familiar with English law, history, and customs; most have been educated in England. Members of this ruling class tend to have a secular rather than a religious or parochial approach to most important problems and are characterized by a vested interest in the success, stability, and permanence of Pakistan. Most live well, travel widely, and have several servants. Perhaps one person in ten thousand will be a member of this influential group.
There is another educated class in Pakistan, considerably larger in size, that does not live so well. The majority are clerks who work in the cities and whose low income barely suffices to pay the costs of an urban existence in a period of slowly rising prices, Petty officials, school teachers, and small shopkeepers also belong to this class, which comprises between 1 and 2 per cent of the working population.
The overwhelming proportion of Pakistan’s citizens is in a third category. They strive merely to exist. They till the soil, perform menial and manual tasks of all kinds, live in an isolated village or an urban slum, visit the mosque and the bazaar, and pass their days in the customary pattern of family and village existence. They accept guidance from those more fortunate but in times of illness or famine rarely seek such guidance. Their way of life has not changed appreciably through the centuries, nor is it likely to change in the immediate future. Their primary concern is obtaining food, water, a small quantity of cloth, and shelter from the weather.
Both the first and the third groups are conservative, for different reasons: the first group has a vested interest in things as they are; the third group is too concerned with survival and too ignorant and isolated to press for change. Any radical political movements would probably get the most sympathetic hearing from those in the second category, which is restive and dissatisfied but not yet politically powerful.
To raise the living standards of the masses requires the greatest diligence and patience on the path of those who direct and operate the government, industry, and education institutions. The country’s resources are marginal at best. There is a shortage of skilled personnel of all types, yet those who are skilled often fail to find suitable jobs. There are signs that too few fully understand the importance of acting in “the public interest.” Pakistan’s future status as a nation may largely depend on the ability of those in positions of influence to place the public interest first even though it may conflict with their immediate personal interests and security.
A chapter from a book printed some 43 years ago, still holds so much truth about our society. Looks like nothing has changed in the last 4 decades and we are still the same exact nation as we were.. or even worst.
Some Aspects of Contemporary Pakistani Society
NOTE: I will be posting some more chapters from the book as I find time..