Predator State

By: Humayun Gauhar 

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).


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  • Aquarias  On November 6, 2010 at 6:39 am

    A well written article , axcept with nothing new being narrated . what has been said is too well known, by all. just yesterday while driving past a stall, where they were butchering chickens and and handing them to customers , i slowed down just see how those still alive and in the cramped pens were responding .
    Not a whimper or response , those still alive were apparently, not even aware what was happening to their kind, as they pecked away contentedly ,at what ever was left over in the miserable cages.
    This country called Pakistan, has been created in a region where over the last five thousand years the invaders have had a field day.Barring the short periods of peace , and semblance of statehood , under Chandra Gupta Maurya, Asoka,the Moguls , the Sikhs and then the British ,the people of this region unlike the Afghans and Turks, have always accepted their plight in the most docile manner .With very few known cases of resistance, the nature of the people seems to be that of the chickens or the lambs being brutalized , led to slaughter and then devoured by the predators .
    I for one, do not see a change or a reaction from this mass of people .The people of this region are numb, or have a price for auction by the highest bidder .What may happen, as it has over centuries , an entry into this vacuum, by external forces and the breakup of this great and glorious land called Pakistan.
    let not the element of the glorious faith ,and misplaced patriotic feelings distract us .
    The lands of Khwarizmi, the great Caliphates of Baghdad and Spain went the same way .
    We do not even compare with them , in vigor or strength, when they were at one time civilizations , as we never achieved that distinction, and are too far down the food chain.

  • S U Turkman  On November 6, 2010 at 7:07 am

    Mr. Gauhar wrote:
    “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”.
    I do not agree that all states are either Predators or Prey. He should read some History. Could he tell us, who USA and USSR had preyed upon in 20th Century? Had not 55% of all major inventions of 19th Century taken place in USA and 85% of them in 20th Century?

  • siddiquimy  On November 6, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Aquarias has said it all. Gauhar sb is high on rhetoric…..he has missed out on the role of the Civil Service……Mr Gauhar can be rest assured nobody is going to stand up; revolutions are unknown in the subcontinent…..
    TURKMAN is totally off the mark……he should read the history of USA and Russia once again……………Panama,Texas, California….. and central America and then the entire Central Asia ???????? were they and more not prayed upon ?
    But the peoples of the subcontinent have survived and thrived for thousands of years; so shall we too; often order can be boring and chaos be fun??????????????

  • idrees  On November 6, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    The focus must be relevant and remain on the objective. On both counts Mr Gauhar has done well. It is a reminder, a constant one that we are heading nowhere if we maintain status quo. We have immense problems but we have equally powerful solutions.
    Unless we appreciate our flaws, we cannot correct them. And most are glaring to our face and Mr Gauhar has penned those well. Pakistan cannot be a hostage to shameful corruption and inefficiency. Things have to change and change fast. Churn the stagnant waters without chaos and remove the surface scum without allowing it time to re-gel. Wake up call from time to time by Mr Gauhar to stir the turbid waters must be heeded. May we fulfil our original aspirations when we became Pakistan.

  • Tayyab Yazdani Malik  On November 6, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    Very creative metaphor.

  • Sharif Hameed  On November 6, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    I think its an excuse for not managing your affairs by corrupt politicians, who themselves Rob their state and fill their bank accounts in Switzerland.

  • Faisal Malik  On November 7, 2010 at 4:44 am

    “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”

    the superior judiciary has its own role. it is the responsibility of the parliament to think about its people. NOT the judiciary. and they did take on cases that affect the common man.

    justice bhagwan das did submit a report regarding the petroleum industry’s loot and plundering.

    the prices of sugar. (to which the resistance was so great, that the prices increased a lot more, just to mock the judiciary, and the ones who want to uphold the law in anyway.)

    their duty is to catch the big fish. all of us have seen how the dishonest have resisted. taking dates after dates.

    if the dough in the swiss cases is recovered somehow, it will not go anywhere, it will come to country’s treasury.

  • Faisal Malik  On November 7, 2010 at 4:50 am

    justice is slow here . thats for sure. but where is it not??

    the whole point of being a lawyer today for the guilty party is to take date after date on excuses so that after, say, ten years or so, you can come in the media and claim that you were right. cuz if there were any proofs, why were not you punished??

    (all the while hiding the fact that it was you in the first place, that provided lame excuses so that the case keeps on pending.)

    justice should be swift. and even if the lawyers try to excuse on this or that matter, they should be reprimanded.

    i still remember the day i read in matriculation course book, about the WISE CALIPH. (haroon ul rasheed.)

    how he solved the dispute between a rich man and a beggar over a horse.

    i wish it were true this day too. so that we’d not be seeing the 2 percent given precedence over the rest of the “prey”.

  • siddiquimy  On November 7, 2010 at 6:24 am

    We all seem to be frustrated and dismayed with state of affairs in our beloved Pakistan; and rightly so. But do we look inside ourselves ? we blame others and paint ourselves as saints; after all Pakistan is me,you,him and they…..who are we then blaming?? Our rulers did not force themselves into power;WE VOTED for them??did’nt we?????????? Why blame Zia or Nawaz or Zardari!!!!!
    Nations do not grow up and bind to gather at once; in our case we were diverse groups,tribes and sub nationalities…….A new born does not grow into adulthood overnight ! Growing up is a painful process even when loving and caring parents are around and in our case we lost the ONLY Parent within a year and we were an orphan nation to be. Unfortunately we are living at a time when the world has become a global village and thanks to internet the entire world is on our door steps…we have had no parent to guide and educate us and so we have gone adrift…..It took even the americans nearly a century to become United States of America; it did not happen overnight…..we have therefore to make great efforts and endure pains to evolve into a nation ourselves; angels will not come to our aid !
    Firstly we MUST look into ourselves before raising fingers at others; are we doing our duty ? look closely at our children, the future of this nation…they cannot speak our own languages; they know nothing about Islam; they do not know even our brief history…………they even do not know our culture, our dresses, our foods….what are they ? Pakistani ? Indians? americans??? Muslim or non muslim…………If you are a parent ask yourself this question in the dark stillness of the night………with due respect to Gauhar sb, certainly a very articulate person, his brilliant father wrote ‘Friends not Masters”, Gauhar sb edited for Musharraf………..But we all claim to be Popes!! I have spoken to many 18+ and none know about the early years of pakistan, they know nothing about Islam, They know nothing about the Holy Prophet; they know nothing about Muslim contribution to the world and to Europe and sciences……..We have become a nation of zombies!!
    To paraphrase Kennedys famous words ‘ask yourself what you can do for Pakistan”…..
    I invite all of you to please visit the Maritime Museum and the Navy Library at KARSAZ road and see what we too can do even with limited means !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    One is sick of blame game; two things are easiest in life : ( A )Criticism and (B) Escape…. Pakistan is rotten; let us go to America/Australia..Period…NO PROBLEM QED!!we are adept in both; I am kosher but YOU are guilty.
    My generation has let down Pakistan and Islam; Our hope now are the new borns but they too are being put on road to destruction because of us. Our brilliant young ones
    will migrate and work as slaves on the wall Street but will not sweat here and build a nation with great potential…….one should not expect left over half educated Pakistanis to build a new Nation……
    My apologies if I hurt someone’s feelings; no offense intended

  • Salman Abbasy  On November 7, 2010 at 10:55 am

    The problem has been accurately identified by Mr Humayun Gauhar whose best writings appear when his family and friends are not in power. The remedy, however, presents difficulty because hard work is not a part of our nature, training or values.

    • Faisal Malik  On November 7, 2010 at 2:22 pm

      “whose best writings appear when his family and friends are not in power”


      that is the case with most of the pakistani elite i guess. they are saints when they lose power, and they become tyrants once they gain/regain that power.

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