There is no dearth in Pakistan of political leaders and other influential figures who claim their utmost commitment to the welfare of common people. However, their wealth, power and attitude negate these assertions. The release of details by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) about the assets and wealth of applicants contesting the July 25 general elections is shocking and revealing. Those who are supposed to represent the mostly impoverished population of this country in the national and provincial assemblies are a walking contradiction. There are numerous hard realities facing this country today. More than a third of the population is living below poverty line; 25 million children are out of school; around half of the population lacks clean and safe drinking water; condition of government hospitals and schools is pathetic; public transport in most of the cities and towns is below standard. Furthermore, massive unemployment; frustration, anger, antagonism among the youth, crime and drugs are destabilising society. Far from these realities are those who approach their voters with fabulous promises but never bother to show their faces once they reach the assemblies. Some say that contradictions in the words and deeds of people is a part of the culture in this part of the world and the failure of people to rein in those who default in their promises made during election campaigns is a major reason why there is such a trust deficit between voters and elected representatives. It would be justified to question how it would be possible for those who remain unfamiliar with the ordeals and plight of common people to have any ability to provide these unfortunate souls with dignity, comfort and security. Most of the people who submitted their nomination papers reflect three things: first, concealment of facts such as payment of taxes, sources of income and educational qualifications. Second are those who have declared their assets which are in several hundred million rupees in real estate, cash, prize bonds, luxury vehicles, agricultural lands and so forth. Third, hundreds of applicants possess dual nationalities. It would be justified to question how it would be possible for those who remain unfamiliar with the plight of the common people to have any ability to provide them with dignity, comfort and security For instance, take the top and middle level leadership of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI). Not from any angle do they represent most Pakistanis because their affluence and wealth. One may point out a fundamental contradiction in theory and practice of leaders of three major parties. Have they travelled in public transport? Have they received treatment in government hospitals? Do they drink tap water? Do they send their children to government schools? The answer will be negative, because political elites seldom experience the life which an ordinary Pakistani is living and have their well-established comfort zones. So how can one expect them to change the quality of life of an ordinary Pakistani? This is a dilemma which exists in many other post-colonial states. The political, bureaucratic and military elites exploit ordinary people while in power thus maximising economic and social status gap in society. Who is responsible for this situation and how can it be dealt with? Strangely enough, materialism and the misuse of power became increasingly common in post-1971 Pakistan. Earlier generations lived a lifestyle which was simple and not extravagant. According to the details of assets submitted by the top political leaders of Pakistan before the election commission in June 2018, the PPP Chairman has assets worth more than Rs one billion; co-chairman has assets worth Rs 758 million. PML-N President has assets worth Rs 159 million whereas, the daughter of former Prime Minister and PML-N President has assets amounting to Rs 845 million. PTI Chairman’s declared assets before the election commission are Rs 38 million. Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Senior Vice-Chairman of PTI has declared assets worth Rs 283 million. Assets of other leaders of the three major political parties are in billions of rupees. Except PTI Chairman who earned money by playing test cricket for several decades, no other leader mentioned above earned money either by doing a regular job or service. And, the assets which have been declared by such leaders may not be complete as there is a tendency and culture in this part of the world to hide wealth from official declaration in order to avoid paying taxes. Except the PTI Chairman, can any other top leader explain how they accumulated such wealth in such a short span of time? The PPP Chairman has no job but at the age of 30 his assets are worth more than a billion rupees! According to critics, the most contradictory politician of Pakistan is Imran Khan, who since the inception of his party in 1996 till today has been talking about bringing qualitative change in the lives of the people by enhancing their socio-economic status, providing them with justice and pulling millions of people from the menace of poverty. But has Imran Khan ever travelled in a public transport? Has he ever gotten his medical treatment in government hospitals? Has he travelled in a second class compartment of Pakistan railways? Travelled in the economy class in Pakistani or foreign airlines? When was the last time he drank tap water and lived without an air conditioner? Has he ever bought from markets essential items like vegetables, fruits, flour, rice, cooking oil and other items? In this regard, he is no different from other politicians. Ironically, it is the people of Pakistan themselves who have brought this upon themselves. When they tolerate slavery, opportunism, hypocrisy, contradictions and eventually being let down by those who win elections and reach the corridors of power, it means they themselves have ruined their past, present and future. They should not blame politicians because common people lack the wisdom and courage to expose them. It is like choosing between the devil and the deep blue sea. The writer is a Meritorious Professor of International Relations at the University of Karachi. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, June 29th 2018.