Agent Provocateur And the future is not ours to see, but despite that, bits and pieces of disturbing news remained in the forefront in the past few days. The rickshaw, the poor mans mode of public transport, came back into the limelight. Some months ago, it became famous because a baby was born in it. It was not by choice and, decidedly, could not have been very comfortable, but it happened because while we, the citizens, can be made to wait indefinitely for hours when our VIPs have to pass, nature is not quite so respectful to them. The babys mother was waiting to get to the hospital in Quetta, Baloc-histan, but the road was blocked because our President had to pass. Both mother and child survived the ordeal and the rickshaw driver got a crash course in midwifery, which also gives multi-tasking a new dimension Apparently, a monetary compensation was also given to the mother and child and the story had a safe ending. The rickshaw has hit the headlines again earlier this week with another story which does not have a good ending. A poor man, who used to drive one for livelihood, opted to poison himself and his immediate family to get out of the wretchedness and hopelessness of the poverty trap. I feel that this is a time for all those in charge of our collective fate to do a re-think of the way things are. The bulk of this nation is quite stoic and accepting of their fate and the preference of dying is not a choice that is made often, despite seemingly insurmountable difficulties. The fact that the rickshaw driver could not get out of the cruel debt trap that he was in, given the lack of opportunities that exist to help the poor, while the influential get so much written off, is a shameful fact that should be cause for much anguish for the government. And also the fact that the provincial government has announced a help of rupees one million for the members of the unfortunate family who miraculously survived, is no balm, considering there was no help possible when he was alive and struggling. How can a few good NGOs provide the kind of succour that is required by all citizens who have the potential but no resources to make their ends meet. The time for rhetoric is passed and the focus must shift on to the teeming millions of Pakistan. As opposed to those who are born in adverse circumstances, those born with silver spoons can and do get away with anything. A glaring example is that of the posts of commercial counsellors which have been especially created in countries with negligible commercial ties with Pakistan, to induct sons and daughters of parliamentarians, obviously without looking at merit. This is a sophisticated way of top-level patronage which translates into you scratch my back and I scratch yours in ordinary language. Significant new perks and privileges have been set up for these fresh appointees. The way the countrys resources are misused and eaten into, just to please a few odd influential people is shameful. And to think, that it was never meant to be a state for the privileged few but for each and every Pakistani, whatever his caste, creed or faith Even though these lines are oft-repeated, particularly aro-und Independence Day, they have carried no weight with those the Gods or the voters chosen to rule over us. The slogan coined by General Pervez Musharraf 'Pakistan First was not appropriate. For any government it should be 'Pakistanis First. It is Pakistanis who have to be protected in their country as well as on foreign shores. The protectors and keepers of our souls, or in other words, those whom we elect, pay little heed to languishing Pakistanis, trapped abroad or at home until the electronic media, Allah give them more power, takes up their case. The hue and cry raised by the media in both recent cases of Pakistanis in Kyrgyzstan, as well as freedom flotilla, propelled the government into action which otherwise, would have done things their own preferred way - slowly, slowly and yet more slowly Postscript: The US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W. Patterson, in a unique and engaging diplomatic initiative, has led the third delegation of Pakistani business leaders to the US and to Boston as part of the Pakistan Business Ambassadors Programme last week. This idea was launched initially by the US Embassy and the Pakistan Board of Investment (BOI) in April 2009. The programme seeks to highlight Pakistans most successful business leaders and stimulate trade and investment opportunities between the US and Pakistan. The delegation represented a diverse range of sectors, including energy, power, private equity, banking, airlines, infrastructure, consumer goods and services. The local Pakistan US business community lauded this support, and effort of the US diplomat. The Ambassador represented Pakistan as an island of opportunity and treasure, and surprised the audience by raising the bar on Pakistan; for not to compare Pakistan with failing security and poor law and order domestic environment, but to look for prospects, opportunities, benefits and returns for their investment as benchm-arked by any other lucrative international business investment opportunity. Perchance is there a possibility, this time around that the Americans want to go with Pakistanis first instead of the Pakistani rulers first. There is no harm in hoping and wishing The writer is a freelamce columnist. Email: