NationalVOLUME 15 ISSUE # 04

Pakistan’s problems

A state falls when there prevails ignorance, corruption, disunity, class division, poverty, injustice, unethical customs, lust for power, intolerance, extremism, poor law and order, sick economy, weak institutions, traitors, unprincipled leaders, overpopulation, cruel, immoral ruling elite and the “might is right” principle.

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 dismantling the edifice of a society and state can be found in Pakistan. Since August 14, 1947, 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 has already 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 the institutions weak and corrupt by their unpatriotic policies. Resultantly, all the institutions and systems of the state and government, like the Judiciary, legislature, executive, police, the FBR, FIA, etc. are supporting 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 life.

The entire history of Pakistan shows that the judiciary has been used to get the “the doctrine of necessity” verdict for legitimising unlawful and illegal rule, punishing and controlling opponents. Even, Pakistan Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa has categorically declared that the credibility of the accountability process is at stake and the government should take urgent steps to dispel the impression. “We, as a relevant organ of the state, also feel that a growing perception that the process of accountability being pursued in the country at present is lopsided and is a part of political engineering is a dangerous perception and some remedial steps need to be taken urgently so that the process does not lose credibility,” the CJP said while speaking at the opening ceremony of the new judicial year 2019-20. “As an important and independent organ of the state responsible for safeguarding the constitutional ethos of the country, we feel that such loss of political space in governance may not augur well for the future of the country as a constitutional democracy,” the chief justice feared. “The recovery of the stolen wealth of the citizenry is a noble cause and it must be legitimately and legally pursued where it is due. But if in the process the constitutional and legal morality of society and the recognised standards of fairness and impartiality are compromised, then retrieval of the lost constitutional and legal morality may pose an even bigger challenge to society at large in the days to come,” he added.

It is a proven fact that many judges like Chief Justice Muhammad Munir, Justice Malik Mohammad Qayyum, and now judge Arshad Malik etc. have 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, CJP Asif Saeed Khosa, in the Supreme Court judgment, wrote: “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,” the judgment read. “His sordid and disgusting conduct has made the thousands of honest, upright, fair and proper judges in the country hang their heads in shame,” the CJP said.

Shamelessly, PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz, a member of the “Sicilian mafia”, also threatened to expose more sitting judges 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, including a woman, don’t feel any shame to blackmail judges and judiciary. Tragically, the judicial system, including the NAB and FIA, is not able to punish powerful people like Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, Maryam, Hamza Shahbaz, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Saad Rafique, Asif Ali Zardari, Faryal Talpur, Khursheed Shah, Siraj Durani, Pervez Musharraf, Altaf Hussain etc. for their corruption and anti-state activities.

All politicians, who have been arrested, are enjoying all facilities even in jails 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. In another case, Asia Bibi, who was sentenced to death on blasphemy charges in 2010, proved innocent by the Supreme Court in 2018, after spending eight years in solitary confinement. Muhammad Aslam, the Ghulam brothers’ nephew, has 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, businessmen, feudal lords, religious leaders etc, use the 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, the police commit all sorts of atrocities, including extra-judicial encounters.

The Model Town carnage and the Sahiwal tragedy are some examples which show the brutality of the Punjab police and helplessness of the poor and ordinary people. The Punjab police have also written other stories of brutality by killing five people, including Salahuddin, a mentally retarded person, Amir Maseeh etc. with torture during recent weeks. Many other videos have also been circulated on social media which show policemen beating an elderly woman outside the IGP’s office and torturing labourer Muhammad Anwar in Hafizabad. According to the HRCP, “3,345 people have been killed in police encounters from January 2014 to May 2018. Ten passersby were also killed and 53 injured in the encounters. Sindh is 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 as four bodies of children that were abused in Kasur’s Chunian area have been discovered. The murder of six-year-old Zainab in Kasur last year had shocked the entire country. Before it, a scandal of 200 abused children had broken out in Husain Khanwala village in Kasur. Now, another child abuse case has been unearthed in the Samundari area of Faisalabad district. In the case more than 30 children have been victims of abuse. According to Sahil, an NGO, child abuse cases have increased by 11 percent in 2018 from 2017. There are reports that Zainab’s rapist was forced by the police to admit other child abuse cases just to placate the people. The recurring incidents clearly show that the police are also involved in the crime as they are not arresting the real criminals behind the heinous crime and business. In short, poor people are now guarding themselves not only against militants but also law enforcement agencies in Pakistan.

Imran Khan’s PTI government is also using the Punjab police for protecting its own interests. He has forgotten his promise to change the colonial nature of police. The Punjab police, the colonial machine, are now serving their new political masters and protecting their interests in society very efficiently. Another dream has been shattered. Another leader has deceived the poor Pakistanis.