Pakistan is not a failed state. It is a predator state. All states are predators, of two kinds: those that prey on other states and those that allow themselves to be preyed upon. The former enrich themselves by plundering smaller states, become developed and are thus able to look after their own people. The latter only have their own people to prey upon, also in two categories: the predator class and the prey, the people. Pakistan and most Third World countries fall in this category.
Leading the field of predators are the three branches of government and their institutions: the judicature, the parliaments and the executives. Above them lies the failure of the state superstructure enshrined in the constitution: instead of protecting the people, it spawns a status quo so iniquitous that the people are consigned to remain forever the prey. The institutions and organizations working under and for these branches of government also help themselves to pieces of the people’s flesh – the civil and military bureaucracies, the internal security apparatus, the taxation instruments and so forth. Instead of protecting the people, they prey upon them with abandon. The prey can get nothing without paying bribes, be it for justice, protection, water, jobs, or admission in schools and colleges. In fact, corruption is the system: without it, Pakistan would come to a grinding halt, unless the status quo is changed.
The prime protector of the iniquitous status are the custodians of the constitution and the ‘law of the land’ that is applied vociferously on the prey but treats rich, the powerful and the influential predators with kid gloves. Thus, small thieves pay the maximum penalty whilst the biggest are sent to the Holy Land or get pardons under the guise of ‘national reconciliation’. No wonder our judiciary is largely seized with irrelevance while cases that concern the prey are ignored whilst they waste whatever little money they have in paying rapacious lawyers.
The second biggest custodians of the iniquitous status quo is the military. When a lion tries to gobble up a larger share of the carrion, the smaller lions, the hyenas and the vultures fall upon it and finally a stronger lion throws him out of the pride and takes his place. When the judiciary fails to protect the status quo against a rampaging chief executive from gobbling up more than his share in the status quo, the military moves in to protect everyone’s share. Yet, the naive wonder why the Supreme Court always legitimizes the man on horseback with such alacrity. It is doing their job for them, that is why, and protecting their share in the status quo. So, can one then be blamed for the nagging feeling that whilst at one level the famous lawyers movement may have been for the independence of the judiciary, it was also for helping the judges save their jobs? The notion was reinforced recently when the Supreme Court met with unseemly haste in the darkness of the night on the basis of a rumour floated by a television reporter that the prime minister was going to rescind his executive order restoring the judges to their jobs. The PM was quite non-plussed as he had said a day earlier that he was not going to do so. He wondered how the word of a reporter could take precedence over the word of the prime minister. Its all about jobs, my dear prime minister, its all about jobs.
The three branches of government are involved with irrelevance. Parliament is supposed to have the upper hand. Most times, it is in paralysis. When it does have some lucid moments, it is to either enhance the salaries, perks and privileges of its member or pass legislation for its own fortification. The opposition looks the other way at executive excesses, only making friendly noises.
The executive usually comprises the most unlikely of bedfellows so it is constantly battling for survival. If, rarely, one political party has a majority it goes berserk, mutilating the constitution as no military dictator would do with its leader trying to become a civilian dictator. Remember the unmemorable executive born of the 1997 elections with his ‘heavy mandate’? The ‘heavy mandate’ got him.
The superior judiciary too is seized of irrelevance – how judges are appointed or promoted, whether a letter has been written to the Swiss authorities or not, who should be the head of the accountability bureau… Everyone knows that no one will really be brought to account fully and all this is a farce to create the illusion of accountability. Judges wish to be their own appointees and they would be judges in their own cause. What is the use of a parliament then? Independence doesn’t mean license. Do they expect the poor man to rejoice that some plunderer has been brought to account despite the fact that his son is about to die of hunger or disease? None of this fills the stomachs of the people, lowers prices, creates jobs, provides security, shelter and clothing… And don’t fool yourself that all this irrelevance will provide the environment for stomachs to be filled, or lower prices, create jobs, provide security, housing, clothing, education, medical care, cheap transportation… Yet these and only these are the things that are relevant, not how many vehicles adorn the ridiculous motorcades of tin pot public office holders and officials creating a perpetual nuisance on the streets.
The lower courts are infested with judges that could not make it as lawyers – despite hardly any competition. Lawyers are supposed to be officers of the courts, to assist judges to make the right judgment regardless of their brief. But after the success of their movement, the lawyers have become a law unto themselves and gone on a rampage. They beat up other lawyers; they beat up cameramen and reporters; they beat up policemen; they beat up politicians; one has even beaten a lady client and at least two have viciously tortured their underage girl servants and sent them to hospital. Has any of them been brought to book? Have the bar associations condemned them? You must be joking. What planet do you live on?
People have to wait for years to get their cases heard, under trial prisoners remain in jail for decades forlornly waiting for their cases to be heard. Many die there, unheard. Women have babies in jail that become adults – born imprisoned. People go to the police at their peril. If a woman is raped, she will think twice before going to the police for fear that she might be gang raped by them too. If, perchance, she goes to a Shariat Court, she will have to produce four adult male witnesses to testify that she was indeed the raped and was not the seductress. Remember when a blind girl was sentenced to be stoned to death because she could not identify the rapist and neither produce witnesses? Remember when a young boy was picked up by a policeman near Islamabad’s Zero Point and raped? The boy got no justice so he poured kerosene over his body and burnt himself to death. Public sector educational institutions churn out dysfunctional literates unprepared to compete in today’s world. Public sector medical services are often deathbeds. Yet, we have the temerity, the gall, to call ourselves an Islamic Republic. We will all burn in Hell for tolerating this.
Mullahs, the media, even teachers are predators, misleading people, spreading sensation to earn more profits and not teaching in schools that pay their salaries but charging huge private tuition fees from the same students. Our sovereignty has become a myth, our independence an empty word, while we allow a superpower to prey on our own people as long as it doesn’t interfere with the Pakistani predator’s predation.
Hope expired a long time ago. Soon, patience will expire too. Then, there will be an explosion. The predator will become the prey. Goodbye!
(The writer is a veteran journalist & writes for many news papers.He is a political commentator).