The death of feeling

FOR a God-fearing, right-minded person it is painful to imagine that while the common run of people are increasingly finding suicides as the only shield against the inflationary onslaught, rampaging the country for quite some time, their rulers would be looking for still more ways to add to the rigours of life. This is the story of Pakistan today, with hundreds of valuable lives ending in suicides and self-immolations, leaving a trail of suffering for the surviving dependents in the face of skyrocketing prices. The deaths in Lahore of four of a family, including the breadwinning rickshaw driver facing acute financial straits, through self-poisoning - are a crying shame on our merciless policymakers and a stark reminder to their supporters to rein them in before it is too late. The Punjab Chief Ministers gesture of doling out Rs 10 lakh would be of no avail, if the only surviving member, gasping for life, were to breathe her last. Would that the common mans plight becomes the primary focus of the authorities planning, rather than the quest for more perks and luxurious lifestyles The ground reality belies this hope. There has been a relentless, periodic rise in the utility charges and fuel prices, either through the withdrawal of subsidies or the levying of new taxes, to cater to the whims of international Shylocks, who must ensure that they get their pound of flesh; the increased revenue returns would serve as a sort of guarantee. It is none of their concern if, as these measures set off an all-round inflationary spiral, the public were to feel more miserable and more desperate. The greater the misery, the higher the chances of the government pleading them for more favours in terms of loans to check the cauldron of discontent from boiling over. Thus, the country gets trapped into a logjam of need and submission, at the beck and call of the loan-giving agencies masters. It is ready to do their bidding to advance their strategic interests, even to the detriment of their own nations core causes. And, if its leadership happens to be corrupt, profligate and inefficient, as, unfortunately is the case with Pakistan, it is all the better, both for the creditors and their masters. While poverty continues to take an alarmingly high toll, there is yet time to set things right. If only the affluent classes, which incidentally form part of the ruling circles, were to give up their wasteful lifestyle, things would start making a turnaround. There is hardly anything to add to what the media, the people, in fact, the whole world has been saying about Pakistans corrosive evil of corruption, whose end alone would be enough to dispense with the begging bowl in a surprisingly short span of time. All is not lost. What is needed is a strong sense of commitment to pull through.