Floods, apathy and lawlessness
01 September, 2010
By Amjad Malik
I visited Pakistan amongst sheer crisis of floods. Water less or more create havoc in subcontinent and this year floods broke all records and millions are displaced, thousands have flown in the water and it is a setback for dwindling economy of Pakistan which relies mainly on crops. However, the relief efforts are slow and due to lack of resources less purposeful. A lot of affectees rely on helicopters for evacuation and akin to 8 October earthquake situation these fundamentals are showing strain on the weaker infrastructure. And there is a race to take the lead too. What worries me is the lack of quick and coherent response from Western countries which is not befitting to the disaster which is considered as ‘slow tsunami’ affecting millions. Pakistani Govt is suffering from a trust deficit and credibility issues at the international as well as Islamic fora.
No one is willing to give a dime to President who is facing charge sheet at the Supreme Court for his stashed cash parked in Switzerland. Leadership in crisis cannot muster aid from countries like china, Turkey, Iran, Lebanon, Libya the way it should have been keeping in mind the historic relations. In fact it’s a diplomatic failure that those countries have not so far convinced that Pakistan is in dire need of aid. Let alone, foreign front it has a scattered policy of relief effort at home. Nawaz Sharif’s sane suggestion to have a national coherent commission to muster an effort to collect relief and aid has been binned due to political fall outs as the credit game could have been lost. But the rulers who are just worried about popularity graph are devoid of feeling the pulse, people are dying and their concern is on politics.
Leaders always look at the best interest of a state, public and then fall outs to the parties here it is 180degree opposite. Allegations of stashed money used to buy pent houses at Hyde Park is fuelling the fire hence everyone is everywhere. Channels, charities and Trusts along with political parties are carrying out relief and collection of funds efforts without an internationally recognised national ‘Disaster Commission’ or a one voice forum. Of course, like earthquake disaster there are complaints but with the way relief efforts are mustered, its unavoidable, but one thing for sure that floods will flow many political cards with it.
An other incident which startled the people in Pakistan and abroad and the international community is the extra judicial killing of Sialkot teenager brothers (Mughees & Muneeb). There is wide condemnation coming right left and centre and the whole affair needs to be looked it with cool and calculated approach as in any Islamic Society that level of intolerance is unacceptable and must be checked at the forefront as lawlessness only breeds lawlessness and Sialkot brothers death is a challenge to state apparatus. No one in the state has power to authorize capital punishment except a court of law. If these brothers were suspected of having committed a crime, then police should have arrested, investigated, challaned and could have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that they are guilty as charged before a court of law. The way these two teenagers were inhumanly and degradingly treated, and police allowed them to be killed in their presence by a mob, allowed torture and mutilation of their dead bodies is not only a crime of a highest order but affects the moral fabric of any society which aspires to progress on faith, discipline and rule of law. Police whilst witnessing the horror and failing in discharging their duty has been criminally negligent whilst Public at large who silently witnessed it as a soup opera must be ashamed of themselves. And finally those who perpetrated the killing, and those who mutilated the bodies, are all guilty of a crime against a state and they need to be brought under accountability if the Govt. wishes to curb and check this kind of barbaric mindset to multiply. A test of intelligence of the Govt.
Finally, the frivolous statement of a politician of Pakistan inviting patriotic generals of Pakistan to hold accountability of politicians through military rule, has shaken the newly attained democracy. These unlawful, ultra constitutional invitations pin points the inherent flaw and breeds a conspiracy against public rule which is against the very basis on which Pakistan was built by Quaid e Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. Military rule has in the past and will in the future wipe out debt ridden Pakistan’s chances to ever stand on its feet in community of nations. Pakistan’s progress is hidden in strengthening one man one vote rule, democracy, rule of law, justice and free media, not in martial laws. In the past 63 years the Nexus of our weaker judiciary with military has hindered democratic flow and process, where politicians have not left good governance or worth remembering legacy either. The struggle of masses was and must be in future for strengthening the institutions remaining in civil structure, as people must keep in mind that worst piece of legislation (NRO) was arbitrarily introduced by a retiring General who came on October 99 to rid Pakistan from Corruption and corrupt leaders. If system is strong enough and is allowed to run at its full capacity with free media and judiciary as monitors, it will automatically start chunking out leadership with brilliance as is the case in the West, in particular UK, United States or even in India.
Having said that, it is worth noting that a necessary strategy in Pakistan to re-establish control over corruption ridden institutions is a need of the hour but that can be achieved without implementing unlawful actions and or extra ordinary measures remaining in civil form of the Govt. If the robust and reliable system is introduced by parliament which enforces law in the country where poor public are living without sugar, electricity, gas, and where millions are on street due to heavy floods. It will generate less complaints or at best it will ease their pain & suffering(s) if a few thousand guilty corrupt are held to an account by a court of law as a starter. That’s the least the Govt can do to ensure public confidence on the system of governance. People can live in poverty, but living is difficult if the elite continues to commit unchecked robbery from public purse. Public perception is that Pakistani politics is but a means to achieve greater influence, and to plunder more wealth and on the whole society collectively need to change that public perception and Politics on a cup of tea is the only way forward, not in palaces.
In the past, Long term military dictatorships, shorter civilian rules, where accountability of politicians takes place on the name of corruption with the nexus of judges with civil & military establishment, remained a destiny of Pakistan. Thanks to our rulers as this notion is well supported by their inefficiencies. People came whenever the true leadership called. They came in 1947 on Quaid’s call. They came for Bhuttoo senior. They came for Be Nazir when she landed at Lahore from exile. In near history they came for Chief Justice when he said ‘no’ to Gen. Musharraf. They again came on 18 Feb on joint call of political parties and rejected the dictator. Finally they came on the call of Sharif’s when Zardari was adamant that justice is no more desired under Iftikhar Chowdhary. On 16 March 08, they came like a flood and made an impression, so we can never underestimate the people’s power, and in future too one man one vote must remain the solvent way to decide who to govern Pakistan if it wishes to prosper, and retain democracy, rule of law and justice in the society, otherwise lawlessness breeds lawlessness.