by Khadijah Ali
The criminal conduct of Pakistani elites was on full display in the manner in which a leading fashion designer and her husband treated their coronavirus infected servant.
Maria B (the ‘B’ stands for Butt but B sounds more chick!) and her husband Tahir Saeed found that their cook, Umar Farooq had confirmed positive for COVID-19.
Given the serious risk of spreading the disease, the elite couple did not seek medical help for the poor servant.
Luckily, Maria B and her husband did not test positive for the virus. It is almost certain that if they had, the poor cook would have been beaten to death for endangering their lives.
The elite couple ordered the cook to sleep in the servants’ quarter with other servants.
When Farooq pointed out that he would infect the other servants, he was ordered to return to his village.
To get to his village (Vehari in rural Punjab), the poor man had to change two buses.
In visible distress, when he reached Vehari, Umar Farooq went to the local hospital who immediately realized he had the infection.
After recording his history, the hospital in Vehari notified the local police.
They in turn notified the police in Lahore where the elite couple lives in a vast mansion with several servants at their beck and call.
The Lahore police arrived at the couple’s house past midnight on March 23 and arrested Tahir Saeed.
This is when Maria B hit the roof. How dare the police arrest her husband and treat him like a common criminal, she demanded to know.
Tahir Saeed was charged with hiding Farooq’s diagnosis, failing to quarantine him or informing the relevant authorities in Lahore to take appropriate safety measures.
By sending him to his native village, the elite couple knowingly put many other lives at risk.
An infected person traveled on two packed buses. How many other people were infected by the virus is anybody’s guess.
Is there any way to trace the passengers on those buses, all of them poor folks? Umar Farooq’s entire village has been quarantined as a precaution.
The elite travel in chauffeur-driven cars and never have to come close to the riff-raff of society.
The poor people are only seen as servants, cooks or doing other household chores.
They are not treated as human beings. Even the elite’s dogs get better treatment.
But here is how Maria B acted like a true elitist entitled to special privilege, like most elite women in Pakistan, the one that join activities like the ‘Aurat’ (woman) march.
In a video message, she appealed to Prime Minister Imran Khan to intervene on her husband’s behalf.
She said armed police arrived at her house past midnight and took her husband away.
Maria B alleged that the police refused to “cooperate” with her. It takes gall: was she supposed to cooperate with the police or the other way around?
What she meant was that the police did not pay attention to the fact that she is a famous designer and knows many people in high places.
This is standard practice in Pakistan. The elite get away, literally, with murder because they are well connected and can circumvent the law.
Even the police are often reluctant to arrest such people for fear of reprisals. Police officers can be transferred to some remote locality, suspended or even fired from their job.
The police officer who ordered Tahir Saeed’s arrest should be applauded for doing his duty.
Why Maria B was not arrested at the same time is a mystery. She is equally responsible for the couple’s reprehensible conduct. Unfortunately, Tahir Saeed has since been released from police custody.
Prime Minister Imran Khan often talks about creating a state modeled on the Prophet’s state in Madinah that would provide justice to every person regardless of their status in life.
We need to remind ourselves of an episode during the Prophet’s (pbuh) life in Madinah.
A woman name Fatimah belonging to a powerful clan was found guilty of committing a crime.
The Prophet (pbuh) ordered her to be punished.
People came to the Prophet and said the punishment should be suspended because the woman was from an important clan.
The noble Messenger (pbuh) was visibly upset. He said, “By Allah in Whose hand is my life, even if my daughter Fatima were guilty of this crime, I would not spare her.”
Pakistan is a Muslim majority country but few people practice the principles of justice and fairness in Islam.
Instead, arrogant elite like Maria B and their ilk insist they are above the law.
If the poor cook, Umar Farooq dies as a result of COVID-19, the elite couple should be charged with murder and punished accordingly.
It is important to demonstrate that nobody is above the law.
The conduct of Maria B and her arrogant husband provide a good opportunity to put the equality of everyone before the law into practice. But it may not happen.
The least the people of Pakistan can do is to boycott Maria B’s designed expensive clothes.
This may be a forlorn quest since the women that purchase such designer clothes also belong to the elite class.