- Espousal of a culture wrapped in shrouds of untruths
“The silence just allowed the echoes of the question to play out in Nox’s mind, reminding him of his own unwinnable war against the never-ending tide of conmen and criminals. He was trying to clean up these parts, but every time he rubbed away a stain, he found another layer of dirt beneath. So, you could give up – or, you could keep scrubbing.”
– Dean F Wilson
Not many people have gone through the kind of turbulent periods that have been the fate of the Pakistani nation, but there are virtually no parallels manifesting a stouter refusal to learn from mistakes and try to charter a course that would be more suited to address the challenges that the state continues to face. This is equally relevant for people who suffer at the hands of an unjust and inequitable system, as well as institutions which are entrusted with powers for forging an order that would redress the maladies the country confronts.
The bitter reality is that, with each passing day, we seem to be plunging deeper into the mess which has been systematically perpetuated through all the years since we have existed as an independent country. Yet, there are hardly any people who would be sensitive to this manifest spectre and who would be willing to become partners in launching a concerted effort to cleanse the deck. This inaction is symptomatic of the criminal beneficiary inertia which has dug in deep and which has adversely impacted every individual.
The most glaring of these ignominious features is a collective infatuation with crime and its multifaceted tributaries and carriers. It is as if people have been deprived of the ability to discern and reward the good and censure the bad. The two opposites seem to have merged, through a sinister plan, obliterating the line that separates them. So, while the good may be good, it is the bad which has to look good also. This is the rationale generated purposefully to create conditions where if you behave badly, even criminally, you would still have the space to be recognised as beneficent. When that happens, the society loses its very rationale and validity to exist as one.
The level of effort people put into justifying and legitimising those who may have committed a vast array of crimes, pillaging the assets of the state being a notable one, is simply bewildering. The demonic manifestation is further augmented by an inglorious and criminal preoccupation with disparaging people who may be honest and deserving of a prominent place as citizens of the state. It is as if crime, and not goodness, is the new denominator for ascertainment of the worth of an individual in the national hierarchy.
There is also this fear syndrome that emerges from the actions of mafias promoting one or another kind of cultish indulgence, mostly emanating from the diktats of obscurantism and regression. Religion also injects its toxic content as was amply demonstrated during the bigot-in-chief’s sit-in where, among promoting other calumnies, he took oath from his followers to follow in the footsteps of the notorious Mumtaz Qadri– the murderer of the former governor Salman Taseer, who was administered capital punishment by the state. He also frequently invoked raw sentiments against the minorities of the country, notably those from the Ahmedi community. The sit-in left behind lingering questions about the writ of the state which was not invoked to check the cleric from repeatedly playing the religion card to stir up violence.
The Prime Minister is engaged in a one-man crusade against crime and corruption. For it to succeed, as it must, other pillars of the state must chip in with their due share as earmarked in the Constitution. Through decades of misrule, the state is gravely bloodied and badgered. The drivers that can pull it back from the verge are rooted in our individual and collective commitment to the foundational principles of our creation– without any hint of fear and without any penchant for conventional and convenient trade-offs
Jonathan Swift once said that “laws are like cobwebs which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through”. This is so true for a country like Pakistan. Let’s concede that there are veritable reasons why people espouse criminal indulgences in preference to pursuing the honourable path. Of late, it has become patently obvious that there are two kinds of laws prevalent in the country: one that is applicable to the rich and the mighty and the other which is reserved for the poor and the marginalised communities.
In the former instance, amply reflected in the case of the likes of Nawaz Sharif, the law lumbers backwards– from the decision to be taken to finding the rationale for doing so. In the process, all pretence to administering justice based on the cardinal principles of jurisprudence and the inherent need for all contestants to be treated equally, without any bias and prejudice against any, is sacrificed at the altar of grandiose compromises in exchange for an exotic array of assuaging goodies. But, in the case of the latter commodity, the poor and the helpless, the Allah Dittas and Imam Dins of the society, are made to wait for generations before even being heard in the courts of law. And when such a day may actually arrive, justice is not the commodity they will be rewarded with. Instead, its nature and quantum will be determined by the position and stature of the people they are pitted against, with the stronger and the mightier emerging the victor and the poor left licking their wounds, made more noxious and unbearable with the infliction of an inequitable dispensation.
The manner in which cases are dragged from day to day, from argument to argument, from court to court, from witness to witness, from stay orders to prorogation, from grants of bail to suspension of punishments, from verdicts to counter-verdicts, from seditious and inflammatory discourse every time an adversarial judgement is pronounced to lavishing the court with praise for securing a favourable adjudication– these are nothing but crass tactics craftily employed to thwart a just and equitable outcome.
There is also the case of judicial intrusion in matters of the executive. It appears that the pillars of the state have forgotten the constitutional ambit of their domains. Instead of legislating, the Parliament has been reduced to becoming an arena for yelling and fighting, the judiciary is more inclined to acting the executive and the so-called fourth pillar of the state, the media, is busy coining conspiracy theories with their criminally partisan analyses and slants.
This is not how sovereign states operate. This is not how the pillars of the state behave. It is as if the narratives and compulsions of an era gone-by still remain the yardsticks for conducting themselves.
It appears that there is a lingering infatuation with crime, among individuals and institutions alike, manifested by espousal of a culture wrapped in shrouds of untruths. Criminals must be punished, no matter how powerful, no matter how embedded in the echelons of power. The future of the state and the society can only be secured on the assurance of dispensing equitable and across-the-board justice which, unfortunately, is not how it is.
The Prime Minister is engaged in a one-man crusade against crime and corruption. For it to succeed, as it must, other pillars of the state must chip in with their due share as earmarked in the Constitution.
Through decades of misrule, the state is gravely bloodied and badgered. The drivers that can pull it back from the verge are rooted in our individual and collective commitment to the foundational principles of our creation– without any hint of fear and without any penchant for conventional and convenient trade-offs.