IT is a great irony that though our political leadership is hardly ever found wanting in expatiating on its resolve to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor, their actions unmistakably belie this avowed intention, proving it as no more than an empty rhetoric. And, as we have seen, with time the rich have become richer and the poor poorer Inevitably, because the benefits and incentives that the resourceful derive out of the iniquitous prevalent norms of society are not only denied to the poor but the adverse impact of these privileges has also to be borne by them. Not that some do not work their way up the social ladder through honest means; but the truth is that quite a few, rather the majority, would be hard put to make such a boast. Take for instance, the astronomical figure of the loan write-offs over the years, with its debilitating impact on bank profits, whose benefit the ordinary shareholder and the depositor would have drawn; then, another example that is the talk of the town today, is the corrupt practice involving billions of rupees condoned under the unconstitutional NRO. Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif hit the nail on the head when he said on Tuesday that the elite classes of Pakistan enjoyed every kind of facility, while the poor remained deprived of the basic necessities of life like proper food, healthcare and education. One would only hope that when he talks about the revolutionary measures his government is taking to spread education and points, with pride, to prestigious institutions like LUMS, NUST and FAST as proof of his claim, he is aware of the poorly provided schools for the general run of people: dilapidated buildings, overcrowded classes, ill trained teachers, and what have you. Education, general as well as vocational, holds the key to lifting the country out of the slough of poverty and backwardness and should receive dedicated, long-term attention. In the meantime, till the fruits of widespread education start pouring in bringing with them the tide of progress and prosperity, the authorities ought to make sure that the common man gets tangible relief. Decisions like raising the electricity tariffs and taxes for indiscriminate application, as reported in the press yesterday, would render life still more unbearable instead. The suffering and pain are all the more acutely felt when the corrupt and the looters of nation's wealth unabashedly defend their dark deeds in the name of reconciliation. They must realise that the interests of democracy are best served by a fair process of accountability.