The Covid-19 vaccination drive for people aged 60 and above in Pakistan began on March 10 with many senior citizens and a number of older celebrities getting the jab but there are some people who are getting the vaccine out of turn.
A video of Federal Minister for Housing Tariq Bashir Cheema and his family members getting vaccinated in the comfort of their home started making rounds on social media and ignited the rage of Pakistani Twitter.
Netizens and journalists were quick to call out the minister and television host Iffat Omar, who was also tagged in one of the now deleted videos, for using their privilege to jump the queues, disrupt the system and then proudly flaunt it in everyone's faces.
Matters became worse when they denied using political influence to obtain the vaccines in the first place, with Omar claiming to have been part of a vaccine trial. She later deleted the tweet.
"This was a booster shot of a Cansino (trial) vaccine received from UHS who also provided the previous shot. It's not illegal or privilege," she protested in the now deleted tweet.
However, the explanation did not sit well with many who not only had proof, but also proceeded to call her out on the exploitation and the lousy justification.
This is because if CanSino was still undergoing trials it would still be in the experimental stage and would not be available to the public in Pakistan, let alone be available at someone's private residence for their convenient use. And the CanSino trial has concluded.
Check your privilege, they chanted.
Omar then made matters worse sharing a television clip, asking people to "take it easy."
People pointed out how the outrage had now shifted from a minister — a public official trusted to make decisions in favour of the people — to a television host, who too, cheated the system.
While it is the duty of every citizen to be responsible, Cheema is in public office. He is someone who used his influence as a public servant to abuse both that public office and his privilege. If anything, it was his responsibility to make sure he was serving the public, and not getting the vaccine for himself and his family out of turn. If you are are eligible to be vaccinated, get registered, go to the vaccination centres and get vaccinated.
People want an apology from both Omar and Cheema.
We want to ask public figures who use their influence to the detriment others, do you think you are more worthy than the rest of Pakistan? More than the health workers who have been fighting for our lives during the pandemic or the sick or elderly whose turn it is to get the vaccine? What makes you and your family more worthy of the vaccine than the rest of us?