Adversity ought to be temporary
Are we the nation which the Quaid visualised and idealised? Have we built our country as he dreamt? What was Pakistan supposed to be like?
While migrating from the Subcontinent to the newly born state of Pakistan, the late Professor Ashfaq Ahmad was asked by a very senior citizen, “Ashfaq what would be Pakistan like where we are going?” Ashfaq wanted to explain the image of Pakistan in a simple manner that the old man could understand the cause behind the creation of Pakistan. Ashfaq’s reply was, “babaji, in Pakistan, when your buffalo will be stolen and you will go to the police station to lodge a complaint, the station house officer will respectfully give you a chair to sit down and will say, “sir, why have you taken the trouble of coming here, you should have sent me a message and I would have traced your buffalo, arrested the thieves and would have personally brought your buffalo to you.” Is this the way things are in our country today?
The police are supposed to provide protection to the lives and belongings of its citizens, prevent crime, carry out criminal investigations, detect crime and arrest suspected offenders and organise traffic control. The police are supposed to register all the cases and complaints, prepare challans and submit them in courts of law for trial and pursue all cases diligently. The police are required to gain the willing cooperation of the people to ensure peace and security.
The situation today is contrary to the “ideal”. It’s not only that the police is not protecting citizens but that citizens now need protection from the police. Today, the police itself can attack any random family and shoot them to death just presupposing them to be terrorists. The point to ponder is that if police is not doing what it is supposed to be doing then what is it that they are engaged in?
There is gross interference in the working of the police by the politicians and the establishment. Today, the main duty of the police is, to provide security to the VIPs. Imagine 105 police vehicles crowded outside the Sindh Chief Minister’s house during a cabinet meeting chaired by the Prime Minister (PM) when the city of Karachi was bleeding. No wonder the police are unable to perform their laid down functions.
Sir Robert Mark (1970), the Police Commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police while claiming the support of a long tradition of constitutional freedom from political interference said: “the police are not servants of the government at any level. We do not act at the behest of a minister or any political party in the government. We act on behalf of the people as a whole.” Unfortunately, our system is nowhere near this. Our police force was established in 1861 to serve the interest of British rulers. Their attitude has not changed and it remains a coercive force completely dehumanised to serve those in power.
Although the recent action of reducing the security protocols of the politicians taken by PM Imran Khan is laudable, the police brutality witnessed in Sahiwal showed that the gap is still not filled.
It’s not only that the police is not protecting citizens but that citizens now need protection from the police
Rampant corruption is the result of the distortion of our social values and increasing greed. This has surpassed all previous records and has brought us amongst the World’s top most corrupt countries. Here, the most corrupt are the most successful and an immoral life is a successful life. When the corrupt are concealed by the government, what can the superior judiciary do even when the judges are independent, bold and fair? There are numerous cases where orders and even judgments of the superior courts are either disregarded or sidetracked. There was a time when such a thing was unheard of. In fact, no one could even think of non-compliance of the orders of a superior court, because under the Constitution and the law, it is a crime entailing severe penalties. Even martial law governments obeyed the courts although they limited the powers of superior courts, but when the courts issued orders they were complied. As Gandhi well-predicted that “the following will destroy us: wealth without work; pleasure without conscience; knowledge without character; commerce without morality; science without humanity; worship without sacrifice and politics without principles.”
Gandhi’s role in the politics of undivided India does not endear him to us, but the reasons of our predicament conform to his saying. Rampant corruption, the absence of rule of law, bad governance, declining moral character and unprincipled politics has become the norm. We appear to believe in Machiavelli’s philosophy, the “ends justify means”.
Nisar Memon rightly said, “Pakistan is going through an unprecedent turmoil caused by unholy alliances, greed, incompetence and moral degradation which has brought unbearable hardships, increased poverty and erosion of confidence in leadership.” Although, I fully agree with what Memon says, I wish he did not support the dictator who cannot escape responsibility for this mess.
The Holy Quran says, “Lo! Allah changeth not the condition of those who do not themselves change their condition.” It appears that even the courage to change things has been denied to us by the powers that be. Perhaps we deserve this denial. Alas! if we could have the leadership that could bring the nation out of decadence and put it back on the road to progress, peace, prosperity and happiness.
Where do we go from here? Will there be a revolution to reverse the trend? Who can facilitate bringing about this revolution when the people are indifferent to what is happening because they are so occupied with their own survival as a result of growing social inequality, poverty and unemployment? To turn the tide, the nation needs leadership with vision, passion, discipline and conscience. These essential roles of leadership can provide the kind of leadership that is trustworthy. What is needed is to transform indifferent people into humane, honest, law abiding human beings. . Does Imran Khan have the attributes that would make him this nation’s dream leader? Only time will tell.
Adversity ought to be a temporary phenomenon. At the end of the tunnel there ought to be a bright and clear light. The corrupt system must give way to an honest system of governance. The people of Pakistan must stand up and be held accountable and hold others accountable for their actions. The Quaid’s dream of a progressive, dynamic, democratic and welfare state must see the light of day.
What can we do to reverse this degeneration? Our biggest hope is the youth of Pakistan. They must play their part. We need an honest, selfless, upright, bold, trustworthy and competent leadership. Unless such a leadership is elected in the next general elections, we will be doomed to become a failed state or at the most a banana republic at the mercy of our enemies and foreign superpowers. The latter has already misused us for its own interest. Let enough be enough. Let us refuse to be helpless.
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The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.