Curse of the ‘almost elite’

Rafia Zakaria, US-based attorney, in Dawn:

THEY speak English well, often with an accent that suggests time spent abroad. They’ve attended private schools and most have done their ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels. They dress with care, displaying designer labels on purses and jeans back pockets with the requisite nonchalance.

They watch the latest movies, skim through the latest books, eat at the hippest restaurants and make appearances at the trendiest parties. On a lucky weekend, their smiling faces may appear in the pages of a weekend society magazine.

These are Pakistan’s ‘almost elite’ — the people who hover around Pakistan’s landed class and coddle the delusion of belonging with painstaking persistence. They know the real rich well, perhaps better than the rich know themselves, having gone to the same tony schools.

Lacking largesse the real elite gather from acres of land or bevies of steel and textile mills, they compensate by the careful cultivation of personas that are somehow inherently invested with a degree of panache. These are the local executives of multinational companies, fashion designers, public intellectuals, doctors, hair-stylists and writers. Toting these identities, the ‘almost elite’ fulfil the necessary function of providing the admiring human haze that the truly rich require for the nourishment of their formidable egos. More:

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