One class en­rols all

The Pak Banker - - Front Page -

are more tra­di­tional than oth­ers, the PPP–PML-Q com­bine has still to come to terms with this new re­al­ity. This is why the al­liance prefers to work by old logic and work away from the main ur­ban cen­tres oc­cu­pied by the new mid­dle class. The PPP–PML-Q al­liance is con­tent with hold­ing an Eid mi­lan party in Mandi Ba­haud­din and a pub­lic meet­ing in Ve­hari at a dis­tance from the old cen­tre of pol­i­tics that Lahore sig­ni­fies and pre­serves in its chang­ing man­i­fes­ta­tions.

Via this by and large small-town and ru­ral-ar­eas route, the al­liance is hop­ing to by­pass their op­po­nents and, cru­cially, the ur­ban-cen­tric me­dia that thrives on cham­pi­oning causes close to Mr Ah­san Iqbal’s new re­al­ity.

Ex­actly where does this mid­dle class ex­ist and what does it look like no one is sure. Is it, maybe, a col­lec­tion of white-col­lar pro­fes­sion­als and ed­u­cated ur­ban cit­i­zens, joined by jus­tice cam­paign­ers and civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions at large? Per­haps it is more spread out than this.

As clas­si­cal def­i­ni­tions fail to keep pace with the times, the ter­mi­nol­ogy is get­ting loose. It’s been a while since the ex­perts un­der­took — or bor­rowed from out­side — a worth­while division of peo­ple in classes, so no one is ex­actly sure where the lower class gives way to the mid­dle and to what ex­tent it con­tin­ues.

The es­ti­mates are rough and def­i­ni­tions vary. This is a long de­bate but quite clearly the re­al­i­sa­tion of some­thing new on the PML-N’s part and the con­se­quent rise in its pub­lic pro­file in­di­cates that those who stick to the old po­lit­i­cal di­vides and slo­gans do so at their own peril.

In a 2011 write-up, a pro-Bharatiya Janata Party com­men­ta­tor pointed out how the ‘gha­reeb’ or the poor had gone out of the Congress re­frain dur­ing Prime Min­is­ter Man­mo­han Singh’s gov­ern­ment. The old slo­gan ‘Congress ka haath, gha­reeb kay saath’ was al­tered to ‘Congress ka haath. aam aadmi kay saath’.

This aam aadmi or av­er­age ci­ti­zen ac­corded some dig­nity to the man in com­par­i­son to the pre­vi­ous ‘poor-man’ ti­tle which could have been found to be too offensive in the changed times. It was recog­ni­tion of a change by a party which boasted of its so­cial­ist cre­den­tials that the de­ci­sive masses of votes — the emerg­ing mid­dle class — could no more be la­belled as poor. Par­ties in Pak­istan pre­tend­ing to have a so­cial­ist present or past could take a cue from the Congress in In­dia. If noth­ing else, they can at least pre­tend that, in pur­suance of the slo­gan they had raised many long years ago, the gha­reeb has been pro­moted to the more re­spectable class sta­tus

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