NationalVOLUME 16 ISSUE # 04

Abuse of the system

There is no denying the fact that all machinery of the system, including the judiciary, police, education, politics, society and economy, etc. of the country support and serve the ruling elite. Since the creation of Pakistan, the ruling elite, including politicians, feudal lords, businesspeople, religious leaders, pirs, military and civil officers, forms and implements the system just for protecting its own interests, enhancing its own power and controlling the poor people of Pakistan.

Apart from the ruling elite, other people of the country are facing acute economic, health, social and security problems. They are facing poverty, hunger, illiteracy, insecurity, a poor law and order situation, polluted water, unhygienic food and spurious medicines Even, children and women are not safe from abuse and harassment across the country.

On September 9, a woman was assaulted at gunpoint on the Lahore-Sialkot motorway. The tragic incident happened in the presence of her three children. According to news reports, two men raped the unfortunate woman when she was waiting for help on the motorway after her car ran out of fuel. The incident has shaken and enraged the people of Pakistan.

Instead of accepting the failure of the police for providing protection and security to the victim family, Lahore CCPO Umer Sheikh questioned the victim’s choice of travelling on the motorway without any male companion. In this way, he shrewdly tried to cover up the failure of the state by blaming and shaming the unfortunate survivors, including three innocent children. The CCPO’s attitude is bad, unprofessional and unacceptable as the Constitution under Article 15 gives full right of choice and freedom of movement to every Pakistani, including women. However, the CCPO’s remarks unmask the true face of the Punjab police and other law enforcement agencies, which often blame the victims for their suffering.

After a strong reaction from the people of Pakistan and the judiciary, the CCPO has tendered an apology and taken back his callous remarks. The Punjab police have arrested one culprit, Shafqat, while the main accused, Abid Malhi, is still at large. Unfortunately, women are considered a lesser human being in Pakistan. According to the Global Gender Gap Report, “Pakistan is the world’s third worst country to be a woman in, ahead of only Iraq and Yemen.”

The Human Rights Watch says “a woman is raped every two hours in Pakistan. The country has 2,937 rape cases filed in 2018 and 3,500 cases of rape and abuse reported in 2019.” According to an NGO, “as of June 2020, some 497 child abuse cases have been reported in the newspapers. A majority of the cases, almost 57 percent, were reported in the Punjab. Of the rest, 32 percent were reported in Sindh, and 6 percent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. More than 35 child abuse cases have been reported in Islamabad during the time, another 22 have been reported in Balochistan, 10 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and one in Gilgit-Baltistan.”

According to the report, “At least 173 children were gang-raped, whereas there were 227 reports of attempted assault. While 38 children were killed after they had been abused.” The figures clearly manifest that the state has utterly failed to protect children and women.

Tragically, Abid Malhi, the main culprit, had raped a woman and her daughter in Bahawalnagar in 2013. But, due to a corrupt and flawed police and judicial system, he was released. It is said that not only powerful people of the area but also some corrupt persons in the police support him. That is why he is still at large. If he had been sentenced in 2013, the motorway tragedy would have been averted.

There are many cases which show that powerful and influential people are not punished in Pakistan. The system has allowed former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Pervez Musharraf to leave the country even after being convicted. Shahbaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, Asif Ali Zardari and Faryal Talpur are enjoying their lives outside jail. Our judicial system has granted them bail.

Former Balochistan lawmaker Majeed Khan Achakzai, who killed traffic warden Haji Attaullah Dashti at Quetta’s main GPO Chowk in June 2017, has been acquitted. Sharukh Jatoi and Siraj Talpur, who were convicted in the murder of Shahzeb, are now free. Mustafa Kanju, son of a former foreign minister, killed Zain, a 15-year-old only son of a widow, in Lahore in front of hundreds of people. But, he is enjoying his life freely after Zain’s mother forgave him to protect her daughters.

On the other hand, many poor Pakistanis never get justice and protection. The victims of some cases, like the Lahore Model Town tragedy, Sahiwal carnage, more than 150 people, who died after using expired medicines in the Punjab Institute of Cardiology, and hundreds of people, including children and women, who were burnt alive in the Baldia Town Factory in Karachi, are waiting for justice. It shows that there is no equality of law in the country. This inequality is, in fact, a rape of the entire system. No state can survive without the rule and equality of law.

Plato asserts: “Where law is subject to some other authority and has none of its own, the collapse of the state is not far off; but if law is the master of the government and the government is its slave, then the situation is full of promise and men enjoy all the blessings”.