You ViewsVOLUME 18 ISSUE # 47

Gangs of exploiters

The economic situation may never have been as pathetic as is the case for the last few years. From experts to mere laypersons, everyone cites this reason or that for the prevailing misery. Some blame ‘exploitative’ politicians for the rot, while others accuse the civil-military bureaucracy.

The fact is that while the larger crisis in the country may have been because of these factors, the current predicament definitely owes its origin to the activities of various mafias that have been working for their own narrow vested interests even if they have to put the country’s economy and its survival at stake. That has been done for the last several decades without any fear or remorse.

Due to these mafias, the country has been facing severe crises, but the worst part is that these cabals are neither accountable to anyone nor has any entity challenged and stopped them from their relentless loot and plunder. Considering the exploitation by the mafias, we should not be surprised why we lag light years behind other developing countries, leave alone the developed world. Over the years, different mafias have gained benefits in cement, steel and sugar sectors, while automobile manufacturers happen to be no less than a gang of exploiters. The sugar mafia always works in connivance with government officials, and leaders of almost all political parties own sugar mills. One can well imagine why.

Automobile manufacturing cartels have been looting the public by sharply increasing the prices of their vehicles without improving the quality and safety features. No government official asks them why and on what basis they increase the price. Now the price of cars is out of reach of even the upper middle class. In fact, the auto mafia puts pressure on the government from time to time to ban the import of used cars to prolong their monopoly in the market.

Such mafias are visible and earn the condemnation of the masses every now and then for their various exploitative activities. What about those that do exist, but are hardly identified and condemned? For instance, retailers, traders, roadside vendors, transporters, as well as stakeholders in cellular and pharmaceutical industries have all been involved in exploitation both individually and collectively. However, it is important not to underplay the contribution of factors like political instability, economic disparities and social issues that prepare the ground for these mafias to carry on with their despicable activities.

The development and wellbeing of Pakistan depend on collective efforts of its people, leadership and institutions. We need to work with sincerity and passion for Pakistan instead of narrow interests. We are basically an agricultural country with enormous national resources. But we have always had a leadership crisis that we have not been able to overcome for some time.

Those in positions of authority need to come forward and rein in all the blood-sucking mafias and their facilitators without showing any mercy.

Yahqub Lodhi