There are other ways to get from point A to B, that do not have to include blocking roads and hijacking planes. A PIA flight scheduled to fly directly from Karachi to Islamabad had to stop at Sukkur at the whims of PPP’s leader of opposition in National Assembly Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah and Sindh minister Manzoor Wassan. The passengers traveling in the flight protested after the change in the route. They had purchased tickets, while the two parliamentarians had not spent personal funds – an event of gross injustice, which we have seen much too often. Additionally, it is troubling that PIA just cannot seem to get itself out of the limelight. From technical inefficiencies to economic losses and political favours, the institution is a true reflection of the state-endorsed VIP culture.

The underlying rage of the masses is at a point where people are angry enough to start breaking protocols set up for motorcades, or violently protest when their flight is delayed due to VIPs, only to end up in jail. Even then, the state officials will protect themselves as VIPs within the justice system.

This week, opinions on social media about an alleged food bill estimate for 15 VIPs and 35 VVIPs, footed by the Prime Minister, range from annoyed to enraged over the sheer cost of the bill, as well as the government openly using the “VIP” terminology. Honourable mentions of money being squandered include KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak who has spent Rs 25 million as entertainment funds on tea and gifts in 6 months at the CM Secretariat, and the Rs 730 million found at the Balochistan Finance Secretary’s home.

Our leaders’ endorsement of, and participation in VIP culture is only making them look small and greedy. A reminder needs to be issued that seats in government and parliament are not allocated to reward individuals with perks. The office of the Prime Minister, the office of the Leader of the Opposition, and all other executive positions are worthy of respect from citizens. However, respect has to be earned, not demanded.