Governance collapsing

The Usman Mirza and Hareem Shah episodes show up a deeper malaise

The case against Usman Mirza was not some obscure backwoods prosecution, but was a high-profile case which the police pursued only after it went viral on social media last September. Usman Mirza was accused of having forced a couple to perform intercourse before him and his accomplices after he surprised them at an Islamabad house. Four months down the road, the woman in the case has refused to identify Mirza. The most common reason for this is because she has been induced by bribes or coerced by threats, to resile from her testimony. Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and Law Parliamentary Secretary Maleeka Bokhari have both vowed to go ahead with the prosecution, but both being lawyers would realize that with the victims not providing testimony, the chances of a conviction are practically nil. It is clear that no one in the government bothered to think of how to prevent the witness tampering over which there is so much official breast-beating now.

Then there is the case of Hareem Shah, who came into the spotlight because she posted a video of herself in the Foreign Office conference room  in 2019, has now posted a video of herself holding a considerable amount of pounds sterling, which she said she had brought out of  Pakistan. The amount appeared to exceed the $10,000 or equivalent a Pakistani can take out of the country at any given time. She said in the video that the law only applied to poor people. The FIA Karachi is registering a money laundering case involving the ASF and Customs officials involved, but that would seem to be slamming the stable door after the horse has bolted.

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It may not be a coincidence that both lapses occurred in departments of the Interior Ministry, whose Minister is the egregious Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, who has still not explained why his Ministry let the Murree tragedy occur. Providing witnesses security was an Islamabad Police responsibility, while money laundering is handled by the FIA. However, the problem is not just in one ministry, but of governance as a whole. Someone somewhere is taking governance too casually.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]


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