Marc-André Franche, the head of the United Nations Development Program in Pakistan has delivered some harsh truths of the way the country is functioning as he prepares to move on from his posting. Franche is quoted as saying the country’s political and economic elites don’t do enough to help improve the lives of the poor. Having travelled all over Pakistan in the four years of his tenure, he has witnessed first-hand the disparity in development across the country. His comments have started a heated debate on social media and it is safe to assume that they sting, because we finally see ourselves as an outsider does, and it is not pretty.

While it may be easy to dismiss Franche as an outsider, it is also time to feel adequately humiliated, as he calls out the collective failure of the people who have the resources to pull Pakistan out of poverty and conflict. We fall far behind most other countries with our capacities. Franche maintains that Pakistan has 38% poverty and has many districts that live like sub-Saharan Africa. This is an apt description of the ground realities in areas of Balochistan as well as Sindh. While the government likes to boast about its economic successes, the trickle down to the grassroots level of that so-called success simply does not exist. He also talked about the inability and failure of the government to push for reforms in FATA, an area “that is institutionally living in 17th century”.

Perhaps the most disconcerting aspect of his criticism is that for the large landowners, who have exploited the land and its people for centuries and the business elites who have been given massive incentives and tax cuts by governments to build their fortunes. Perhaps this is also a veiled reference to half the cabinet ministers who are mostly landowners by profession and many of the parliamentarians that have office due to kinship and graft rather than passion and merit.

Mr. Franche insisted that “the only way a critical change will happen in Pakistan is when the elite of this country will sacrifice their short term, individual and family interests, for the benefit of the nation.” Sadly, this is easier said than done. The elite of Pakistan are too busy flashing their wealth on social media and defending their “God-given” hierarchy of riches to care for the country their forefathers sacrificed to build.