Convicts and criminals on a rampage | Pakistan Today

Convicts and criminals on a rampage

  • Fragments of a collapsed system making a mockery of grandiose pretensions

“Fine, you do that, and you tell them that, at the very first opportunity, I am coming down there and killing all of them. Mass murder! And after they are all dead, I am going to kick the bodies around, dance on top of them and sing a happy song. No jury will convict me.”

Nora Roberts

Pakistan is a strange country with strange people. Their sympathies ooze out for the bands of criminals, but they are unforgiving towards even minor failings of honest and well-meaning individuals. Reason, logic, rationale, persuasion– nothing will convince them to look inward and try to re-evaluate their appraisals. In fact, this will further harden their outlook. With their numbers increasing, such persons are not only visible, they are also fully active in demonstrating their implausible and incoherent fixations. How have they grown into becoming people of such weird dispensations and proclivities is not a mystery.

The daylight attack on the NAB office is an example that fairly illustrates this phenomenon. A small crowd of hooligans, led by the Calibri-font-fame queen, daughter of a runaway convict, who had been summoned to answer a few queries regarding the illegal procurement of vast swathes of land, assaulted the NAB office, causing damage to the property. The attack also inflicted injuries on some NAB employees.

This deception must come to an end. The road we have taken is the road to damnation. The convicts and criminals should not be allowed to dictate the destiny of this country. The state’s conscience, exercised through its power spectrum, should get to work and clean up the stables. When that happens, we may actually see the direction we have lost, but which we must take to secure the Quaid’s Pakistan

The Calibri-font queen then held a press conference to voice wild allegations that there had been an attempt to cause harm to her person and the windscreen of her bullet-proof car had been damaged. Utterly devoid of logic, she ranted and raved before making her exit.

Maryam Safdar is a convict. She was sentenced to serve seven years behind bars on account of proven corruption in the Avenfield reference case. Her sentence was suspended by Islamabad High Court, one doesn’t know why, but this does not impact the guilty conviction. Since then, the state institutions have not moved the court for vacation of the suspension orders. She continues to reside at home virtually as a free person. What are the compulsions for this reticence? Is it that the institutions are inefficient, incompetent or unwilling to move against her? Is it that they are complicit with her and her multifaceted crimes? Is this the fait accompli that everyone has to live with, irrespective of the need for law to assert itself? It seems that convicts and criminals of all hues and shades have the absolute freedom to go on a rampage.

Her convict father had managed to sneak out earlier by signing on a mere stamp paper. Initially, it was for a period of six weeks which has now extended to over eight months. Again, none of the concerned institutions has moved an inch to get him back.

Asif Zardari and Faryal Talpur had also been bailed out some time ago and they now live in comfort within the precincts of their palatial abodes. Nobody is pushed about the impact that such grievous happenings may inflict upon the ordinary and the deprived people and how they may react to reiterate their existence. Is it that, being acutely aware of the blatant effort to make them irrelevant in the existent environment, they are rendered prone to taking law in their own hands, ever more often, ever more viciously?

The system has nothing left in it to serve the cause of the people. In fact, it has collapsed with its fragments scattered all over making a mockery of grandiose pretensions. What we have is stinking excrement of a system which the beneficiary elite have fabricated laboriously, and which they continue to defend and promote.

What is really hurtful is that, having entered the 74th year of independence, we have reduced ourselves to becoming a country which is the very antithesis of how the Quaid-e-Azam had visualised it. Addressing the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on 11 August  1947, he strongly preached equality among all people: We are starting in the days where there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens, and equal citizens, of one State”. Instead, we have become an extremely discriminatory polity which distinguishes among people on the basis of an increasing number of divisions so much so that there are virtually two concurrent laws prevalent: one for the beneficiary elite and the other for the poor and marginalised communities.

The Quaid’s statements underlined the need for religious tolerance: “You are free. You are free to go to your temples. You are free to go to your mosques, or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the State”. His first cabinet, comprising people with varying religious identities, was a practical demonstration of this deep-rooted faith that no matter what belief one may practise, we are all equal citizens of one country. But, over time, we have become self-righteous, intolerant and bigoted, riddled with factionalism, sectarianism and cultism. We kill others for practising a different religion, and refuse to grant them their rights as citizens of the country. We even resort to desecrating their graves and worshipping places.

Quaid was a great advocate of unity: “If you change your past and work together in a spirit that every one of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his colour, caste, or creed, is first, second, and last a citizen of this State with equal rights, privileges, and obligations, there will be no end to the progress you will make”. And what have we become instead? We are a misguided herd of people forever belittling others for a host of meaningless reasons and causes. We woefully lack discipline, are low on conviction, and are forever eager to decamp with our share from the remorseless loot and plunder of state resources.

So vast is the chasm between what we were supposed to become and what we have actually become that it looks almost unbridgeable. But there is also no prospect to become a viable and sustainable country without following the ideals which the Quaid believed in, and which he had so fervently preached.

I am reminded of Faiz. He knew the shallowness of our society. In many of his incomparable poems, he talked about this aspect with immeasurable beauty and impact. His writings are laced with descriptions of the fascist tendencies of the beneficiary elite and how they have exploited the people to advance their selfish interests:

This stained light, this night-bitten dawn,

This is not the dawn that we had yearned for,

This is not the dawn for which we had set out,

Hoping that in the sky’s wilderness,

We would reach the final destination of stars.

This deception must come to an end. The road we have taken is the road to damnation. The convicts and criminals should not be allowed to dictate the destiny of this country. The state’s conscience, exercised through its power spectrum, should get to work and clean up the stables. When that happens, we may actually see the direction we have lost, but which we must take to secure the Quaid’s Pakistan.

The writer is a political analyst and the Executive Director of the Regional Peace Institute. He can be reached at: [email protected]; Twitter: @RaoofHasan.

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