I HAVE been desperately trying to make sense of the chaos we are swimming in — socially, politically and economically — but howsoever hard I may try, nothing makes sense. Every politician and intellectual finds it an easy scapegoat, blaming the people for ignoring the national duty to pay their taxes. At a recent social media dialogue, a former interim prime minister boldly declared that the citizens only wanted rights without shouldering their duties. I found it a bit rich, and could not help but chuckle when the audience erupted in applause.

The question is simple: why do they, the politicians and intellectuals, not include themselves in this responsibility talk? Why does this bias and exclusive treatment persist, especially towards the struggling salaried class? And then there is the irony, as the politicians, who cannot seem to turn their promises into action ever, expect the people to be paragons of responsibility.

And let us not skirt around the issue that nobody appears to be talking about — the alienation the people feel from the decision-making process. When the elite-centric policies of the politicians crumble, who gets hit first? The people do. They are the ones who get slapped with increased taxes and tariffs, while the bigwigs slip through the cracks. It is like being treated as tamed animals who are expected to bear the weight of a system gone awry. It is beyond frustrating.

Perpetually, this lack of representation in decision-making adds to the sense of being treated as mere subjects rather than active participants in shaping the direction of the nation. The emotional toll of feeling used and discarded is the part nobody perched on a pedestal seems to get. It is like our voices are drowned out, and we are left grappling with the aftermath on our own. It is more than just numbers on a tax return; it is the human struggle that is being overlooked. And that hurts more than words can say.

Rakhshanda Abbas
Gilgit

Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2024

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