Nothing is more precious than Bilawal’s security”- this was the defence given by Sindh Senior Minister for Education and Literacy, Nisar Khuro, after a 10 month old gird died after her father was delayed entry to a hospital by protocol staff due to the arrival of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on the premises. Reacting to the death of Lyari’s infant girl Bisma, Khuhro said he sympathizes if anyone has died but the “most precious life is Bilawal’s”. The confidence with which this callous statement was delivered is shameful and disgusting and the PPP must be censured for it.

The security protocol caused the victim’s father to remain stuck in the traffic jam. This is something most Pakistani citizens have seen countless times. Busy traffic at a standstill, because some VIP is passing by. We all knew that our time, our responsibilities, our right to free movement, and our life, was less precious than the security of a VIP. Now a minister has said it out loud, and it stings even more.

Even if Bilawal was not directly responsible for the girl’s death, it is clear what needs to be addressed, and what is wrong here- the brazen, often horrifying, misplaced sense of entitlement that puts those who rule so far above those ruled. Nisar Khuhro, had the audacity to say that whatever they did was in the interest of the country. He is a prime example of how embedded VIP culture is in the elite mindset.

What was in order was a massive public apology from Bilawal Bhutto himself. A promise that he would never threaten the lives of citizens by stepping out of this house would be even better. What happened was criminal, and should prompt criminal charges- if our broken legal system could muster the courage to prosecute VIPs.

This instance is not the first one; neither will it be the last. Residents of Peshawar recently faced the worst traffic jam as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited a university there. Not long ago, Imran Khan who used to stand on his container every day in Islamabad, to raise his voice against the ‘curse’ of VIP culture arrived at Peshawar’s Army Public School in a grand convoy of 21 vehicles. A woman gave birth to her baby girl in an auto-rickshaw stuck in a traffic jam when police closed roads to let the then President Asif Ali Zardari’s motorcade drive by during his visit to Quetta in 2010.

We have to make some things clear to all politicians and public figures, their rich families, and law enforcement agencies: The streets of Pakistan are not red carpets. The police is not a mercenary force up for hire to protect the rich. Bisma’s life is not more important than Bilawal’s.