NationalVOLUME 17 ISSUE # 46

Pakistan’s problems

A state fails when there prevail ignorance, corruption, disunity, class division, poverty, injustice, unethical customs, lust for power, intolerance, extremism, poor law and order, sick economy, weak institutions, unprincipled leaders, overpopulation and cruel, immoral ruling elite.

Arnold Toynbee, a great historian, asserts in his 12-volume magnum opus “A Study of History”: “Great civilisations are not murdered. Instead, they take their own lives”. Luke Kemp, describing various causes of a society’s decline, writes in the BBC news, “Inequality and oligarchy: Wealth and political inequality can be central drivers of social disintegration, as can oligarchy and centralisation of power among leaders. This not only causes social distress, but also handicaps a society’s ability to respond to ecological, social and economic problems”.

Prof Paul Ehrlich, writer of The Population Bomb, while talking to the Guardian, asserts, “Population growth, along with over-consumption per capita, is driving civilisation over the edge: billions of people are now hungry or micronutrient malnourished, and climate disruption is killing people.”

Tragically, all these causes and factors which prove instrumental in harming the edifice of a society and state can be found in Pakistan. Since August 14, 1947, the Pakistani state has not been able to achieve its pristine goal of creating a moderate, equitable, prosperous, peaceful, and healthy society. However, its ruling elite has formed a system which is supporting its cruel rule and corruption relentlessly. Due to this flawed governing and controlling system, the state lost East Pakistan in 1971. Unfortunately, the ruling elite has not learnt any lesson from the tragedy. It is still not willing to form people-friendly political, economic, social, judicial, educational and health policies. On the contrary, to prolong its cruel rule and strengthen its hold, the ruling elite has made all institutions weak and corrupt through their policies. Resultantly, all institutions and systems of the state and government support the ruling elite and powerful people in plundering the resources of the state, while the poor and weak are leading very miserable, helpless and fearful lives.

The history of Pakistan shows that the judiciary has been used to legitimise unlawful and illegal rule, punishing and controlling opponents. It is a proven fact that many judges damaged the sanctity of the institution by supporting the powerful elite and rulers and indulging in unethical practices. Reprimanding judge Arshad Malik heavily for his conduct, former Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa wrote in his judgment: “His admitted conduct emerging from that press release and the affidavit stinks and the stench of such stinking conduct has the tendency to bring a bad name to the entire judiciary as an institution. His sordid and disgusting conduct has made the thousands of honest, upright, fair and proper judges in the country hang their heads in shame.”

PML-N leaders also threatened to expose more people through videos if Nawaz Sharif and other family members were not given an NRO. This is a classic example of an immoral and unethical society, where politicians don’t feel any shame to blackmail judges. Tragically, the judicial system failed to punish powerful people for their corruption and anti-state activities.

All politicians, who were arrested in the past, enjoyed all facilities even in jail and NAB custody. Is this not a mockery of justice? On the other hand, many innocent and poor people have been punished, jailed and even hanged under the flawed judicial system. Two brothers, Ghulam Sarwar and Ghulam Qadir, were wrongly sentenced to death in May 2005. On October 6, 2016, the Supreme Court declared them innocent. But the brothers had already been hanged on October 13, 2015. Muhammad Aslam, their nephew, aptly said: “There is no justice in this country for the poor – maybe there is for the rich.”

According to Justice Project Pakistan (JPP) Director Sarah Belal, “there are very deep structural problems in Pakistan’s criminal justice system. Anyone who works within it, victims, lawyers, judges, prosecutors, all the way to the Supreme Court knows that something needs to be done.”

All powerful people, including politicians, businesspeople, feudal lords, religious leaders etc, use police to suppress poor people, crush rivals, win elections and enhance their power and influence in society. With the support of the powerful and corrupt people, police commit all sorts of atrocities, including extrajudicial encounters.

The Model Town carnage and the Sahiwal tragedy are some examples which show the brutality of police and helplessness of poor and ordinary people. According to the HRCP, 3,345 people were killed in police encounters from January 2014 to May 2018. Ten passersby were also killed and 53 injured in the encounters. Sindh was on top of the list of killing people in police encounters from January 2014 to May 2018. According to the JPP, “Torture is accepted as an inevitable part of law enforcement in Pakistan, and perpetrators of torture are granted impunity through a combination of socio-cultural acceptance, lack of independent oversight, widespread powers of arrest and detention, procedural loopholes and ineffective safeguards, including Pakistan’s failure to criminalize torture despite being a signatory of the UN Convention Against Torture.”

Unfortunately, law enforcement agencies have failed even to protect children. The murder of six-year-old Zainab in Kasur had shocked the entire country. Before it, a scandal of 200 abused children had broken out in Hussain Khanwala village in Kasur. Another child abuse case was unearthed in the Samundari area of Faisalabad district. In this case, more than 30 children were abused. According to Sahil, an NGO, child abuse cases increased by 11pc in 2018 from 2017.

Imran Khan’s PTI government also used police for protecting its interests. He forgot his promise to change the colonial nature of police. Another dream was shattered. Another leader deceived poor Pakistanis.