First, a small, random quiz – Part 1: Your personal ambition

Did you ever feel that you wanted to:

  1. get admission in a particular (read: prestigious) school, college or university and you couldn’t?
  2. get a certain corporate job and you had all the qualifications and experience necessary and you couldn’t?
  3. go overseas for a university degree on a fully paid scholarship and you couldn’t?
  4. win a government tender, a civil works contract and you couldn’t?
  5. get a prized government posting, an overseas stint, a particular board position, a CEO role, an advisory role and you couldn’t?
  6. rub shoulders with important (VIP) people, go to these colonial clubs, be invited to elite receptions and you couldn’t?
  7. get published in a major daily or appear on a TV talk or reality show, or even become an anchor or show host and you couldn’t?
  8. share this big, bright project which you wanted to showcase to the world through national or international press and you couldn’t?
  9. get rich through hard work, honesty, opening more doors, selling more and you couldn’t?
  10. become country’s top academic, a vice chancellor, a rector, a dean, a famous poet/ writer/ author and you couldn’t?

A small, random quiz – Part 2: Your business ambition

Did you ever feel that you wanted to:

  1. set up a large chain of schools, colleges or universities and you couldn’t?
  2. set up a chain of hotels, restaurants, bakeries, departmental stores, eateries and you couldn’t?
  3. set up a chain of hospitals, clinics, pharmaceutical manufacturing plants, drug stores, diagnostic laboratories, ambulance networks and you couldn’t?
  4. set up a TV channel or newspaper publishing house and you couldn’t?
  5. set up this ambitious business and all you wanted was easy access to finance and you couldn’t?
  6. bring a famous global franchise to Pakistan and you couldn’t?
  7. become a politician, clean the mess in the country or in your city and you couldn’t?
  8. become a top-tier religious scholar, set up a large seminary and you couldn’t?
  9. become president of a chamber of commerce, a trade body, a textile owners body, a car manufacturers body, a lawyers bar, sports board, farmers body, doctors association and you couldn’t?
  10. become a big-time road contractor or infrastructure maker, a big textile or sugar mill owner, a modern urban town designer/ developer, a bank owner, a shopping mall owner, a large bus transport or truck network owner, a courier owner or container terminal owner and you couldn’t?

If the answer to most or all of the above is no, you can stop reading. This post may not be of interest to you.

If the answer to any of the above is yes, barring a few million chances of your own ill-preparedness in the current population of 200 million, you might have been the victim of a phenomenon I would call under control or network gatekeeping.

You may call it monopoly, whatever. Definitions of these words for the newbies somewhere on this page.


Which brings us to the third curse in Messed-up Pakistan Series: Monopoly

The first crime being: Fraudulent Claims

The second curse being: The Sultan Rahi Syndrome

As soon as Pakistan came into being in 1947, a few chosen ones saw an opportunity in a big, unutilised land filled with natural resources.

It was an abundant opportunity of elite capture – making money and creating and perpetuating influence in the lifecycle of this new country.

History is silent about who these chosen ones are. Until, of course, the history declassifies itself.

What it does tell is that they got together, evolved a cartel and decided they will run the show – precisely 1947-onwards.

Through exchange of favours, upgrading of class and inter-marriages, they perpetuated their influence.


They will decide who gets the jobs, who gets the tenders, who gets the lateral entry, who gets the infrastructure project, who gets the civil and defence contracts, and who gets the tax-exemption.

On media, they will decide who becomes the editor or a talk-show host, or even a panelist on these shows, or who gets the license for a newspaper or a TV channel or who gets the cable-operator license.

In city services, they will decide who gets the hydrants.

In healthcare, they will decide who will set up the posh hospitals, clinics, pharmacies.

In urban planning and real estate, they will decide who gets to develop big towns and shopping malls.

In entertainment, they will decide who gets the top singing or movie contracts – here in Pakistan or in Bollywood.

In religious philosophy, they will decide who people will throng to in times of disillusion – online or offline.

In wealth creation, they will decide who gets the next burger chain, or who gets the next cola brand, or who gets the next courier company brand.

On golf courses, in colonial clubs, on private farmhouses, they will decide who to sponsor next.

In politics, they will decide who rises from a councillor to an MPA to an MNA to a Minister to a Chief Minister and a Prime Minister.

They will decide who will install the next government, get the coveted or money-making ministries. So when it comes to keeping their financial interests safe, there’s no surprise from these ministries.

Whenever a surprise will hit the cartel, they will hit back and ‘take care’ of the trouble-makers, remove them from their positions, or remove them from this world.

glass ceiling

See also:

The future is different: Wali on Pakistan of future

Back to the future: Pakistan in 2050

In the former East Pakistan, they will decide who takes the next flight to Dhaka and sets up industries and mills there, until that East part becomes ungovernable and it had to let go to become Bangladesh.

On the haram side of things, they will decide who brews the beer, who imports alcohol, who runs the prostitutions rings, who runs the extortion mafia, who sets up fake clinics, harmful food providers, who provides the fake PhD degrees to their chosen heads, who grabs the lands or who safeguards the land grabbers/qabza group, who keeps a tab on target killers or hitmen, and who appoints the SHOs and IGPs whose eyes and ears could protect these ‘services’.


This cartel, which is unknown to this writer, created an in-gorup and an out-group, and benchmarked a glass ceiling which nobody from the out-group could touch or break.

In order to be in a position of influence in this country, you had to be ‘one of us’.

The earliest expression could have come in the form of 22 families, plus the Aitchisonians, the Grammarians, the Ravians, the DMGs.

With changing times and 22 families dying their natural death (because of ill-gotten wealth, and drunken, drugging and womanising third-generations), new nazims, Khans, Chaudhrys and Maliks were given lateral entry.

(More on this elsewhere as there will be a separate post on a curse called ‘Elite Class’.)

There was a complete control on the supply line.

People with ambition, talent and enterprise, from outside the system, were co-opted very early on when they were in schools or colleges or they got their prized entry as soon as they left the university.

And not just the formal education. The cartel would have eye on each seminary, each religious sect and the religious parties and networks too.

This religious group too would come handy in ‘times of trouble’ and change. (There will be a separate post on ‘Use of Religion’.)

As it happens in the network gatekeeping, those with ambition but from the out-group were neutralised, blackmailed, removed, ridiculed, put into abyss quickly, or just pushed away/forced to migrate.

Can we do something about the monopoly in #Pakistan2050?

This is Part 3 of How we messed up: A series by Wali.

The Series looks only at events and patterns that impacted Pakistan in the past. No present assessment. No solutions suggested. That’s elsewhere on this blog.

Will appreciate your comments. Stay tuned for Part 4.

Part 1: Messed-up Pakistan Series – No 1 crime: Claims

Part 2: The Sultan Rahi Syndrome: Messed-up Pakistan Series 2

Part 4: The Ummah Card: Messed-up Pakistan Series 4

Wali Zahid is founder of two reform movements – Tehreek-e-Adl aimed at social and political reform in Pakistan, and #HumanizeMedical, aimed at global medical education reform (HumanizeMedical.org). A social media strategist, he can be reached on TwitterLinkedInFacebook and Google Plus.

Do not miss our Understanding Pakistan Series

Back to the future: Pakistan in 2050

Wali on Pakistan of future

Long Term Orientation in Pakistan: from Zero to 50 in 2 years

Pakistani culture through 6-D Model

Native languages in Pakistan

How future oriented are we?

Pakistan’s two value crimes no one talks about

Is Whatsapp your source of info? Welcome to Project Ignorance

  • rifatmushtaq

    Sir in Ramadan its really a”sadqa-e-jaria”.God bless you.Being Pakistani I mean true Pakistani we really need to stand up now.

  • Fida Marvat

    Wali Zahid

    Part is the best among all three.