Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Few Questions Rulers must Answer!

Dr. Umar Khan
Dr. Khan heads a Lahore based Think Tank. 04-01-08

State of Pakistan and its agencies are well known for their indifference towards the inconveniences they cause to the people. They routinely block main roads in big cities on the pretext of VIP movement causing traffic jams lasting hours. Many patients have died on roads due to their inability to reach hospitals in time due to traffic blocks caused by VIP movements. Then we see many permanent pickets at busy places affecting the flow of traffic without any policeman. Our state functionaries usually don’t show the courtesy or concern to remove the unmanned blockades when not in use, confirming their negligence towards the people. Most of our state institutions are remnants of the oppressive colonial era illustrating their heritage clearly and we have gotten used to being intimidated by them. Living in such atmosphere people might find it very difficult to believe the explanation given by the senior most government functionaries that the site of BBs murder was hosed down because the authorities were under pressure to open the road for traffic wasting the valuable evidence in the process. How can Fire Engines which are too few and difficult to summon, show such phenomenal efficiency by removing most, if not all evidence so fast?

Even if the nation somehow digests this ridiculous explanation, how can the serious omission of postmortem be explained. Let me remind the readers that in case of violent deaths or murders, it is not an option of the police or family but a straight forward legal obligation to conduct the postmortem examination to ascertain the cause of death. Many of the murders in rural areas are by the family members and giving them this choice would seriously harm investigations in many murders, specially the honor killings our government prides in fighting against. The possibility of government coming under pressure to neglect its duty paints a picture of very weak and sorry state. Nobody would believe such a story.

If all this was really because of incompetence, as the government wants us to believe, then it might border on criminal negligence. Destruction and wastage of valuable evidence of a serious crime by a professional law enforcement officer needs to be taken seriously and should not be brushed aside lightly. In this case such a serious incompetence should have caused much turmoil in the police department and many should have been investigated or suspended. Nothing of this kind appears to be going on and the responsible officials are still serving as before. No one is being held responsible for this crime against the unity of the nation.

Lately there seems to be a sequence of highly violent events going un or inadequately investigated. Upon BBs return to Pakistan in October, a blast killed over 150 people in Karachi in very dubious circumstances which was never adequately investigated or the perpetuators brought to justice. This alone might be sufficient encouragement for the future terrorists planning their heinous acts. The civilized world does not let a single death go uninvestigated and leaves no stone unturned or cost spared to bring the criminals to justice but we appear to be callous towards our own people and their lives.

A few months earlier in the same city of Karachi over 50 people were butchered which was later proclaimed a show of force by some very senior government officials. Any form of investigation of this very unfortunate incidence was categorically disallowed on the pretext of looking forward. It is only in Pakistan that a government can get away with such an episode or uttering.

The government spokesman made the situation even worse by giving statements bordering on absurd. When cornered badly he was labeled a soldier not good enough to deal with the journalists raising even more serious questions. Who puts inept people in places of extreme importance and why? A Brigadier might be brilliant in his field of expertise but why is he being made to deal with the media for which he is absolutely untrained? Unfortunately these misplacements go till the highest quarters. Everywhere we see people doing duties they are not trained for and all this is coming at a great cost being paid by the nation and its 160 million owners. Now that the government has finally realized this folly is it ready to shelve this injurious policy?

Government very rightly says that it had reports of attacks planned on BB and warned her of the risks. Despite communicating warnings it failed to take solid concrete steps to protect her. Question arises that is the government basically just a messenger or is it its duty to protect the life and liberty of its citizens? Simple expression of helplessness would not convince many. Self respecting governments never coerce their citizens into quitting political activities for its inadequacies. The current government is in power for over eight years and should have been able to control the law and order situation sufficiently. Government that cannot guarantee security to its people does not deserve to be there. Many might take it as a form of concealed threat to other politicians not to cross the prescribed lines.

It is not for the first time our government has gotten away without answering its very debatable behavior. We have not been able to make our different governments answerable to extremely important and devastating events like, Liaqat Ali Khan’s murder, 65 war for which I still am not sure who started or won, E Pak tragedy, Bhutto’s death; was it a legal murder, Siachin fiasco, Kargill fiasco, Afghan policy and strategic depth, jehadi disaster etc etc . Unfortunately the list goes on an on.

The government has been able to get away with a lot at a great cost to the nation. It is about time that it starts answering to its real bosses, people it is meant to serve, Pakistani citizens. It now explains to the West but its impunity over the citizenry still exists and must end. The sooner the better. The civil society has awakened a bit but this process must continue. The world is changing and we must keep step with the changes. Fortunately the international world and the civil society is not as compliant as before March ninth. These changes are a natural progress and need to be respected. Any effort to slow or reverse this progress is destined to fail after causing much misery.

Our government enjoyed a prolonged 7-8 years period of absolute impunity and honeymoon. Because they had gotten used to highly favorable circumstances, our rulers are finding it very difficult to cope with the new realities in which they have to answer questions and justify their actions. Trying to avoid the questions they are making more and more mistakes since March 9th, getting deeper and deeper in trouble. All their efforts to extend their rule appear to be backfiring making it unpopular the world over. In March Musharraf was considered a kind of a statesman, but after Nov 3rd he is on track to be remembered as a Marcos, or if he continues for another few months, a Pakistani Idi Amin. Not a very flattering prospect.

We Pakistanis have failed in our duty to protect our country from its inept rulers and state institutions. Our apathy, pliability and compliance gave them a monopoly to determine national interests and patriotism. This scenario has seriously damaged our society jeopardizing the future prospects of our children. The civil society owes it to itself to change the political realities of Pakistan. It is the civil society; people like you and me who are affected the most because we don’t have the option of leaving Pakistan like most of our ruling classes. We are the Pakistanis who wish to live and get buried here. We must take Pakistan out of the quagmire our rulers have put it in because of their selfish reasons. We have no options because we call it our home and pride in it.

To have any chance of improvement we must make our rulers answerable to the people and they will not do it voluntarily. They have started answering to the West but they are still maintaining their arrogance with the Pakistanis and this must change. They must justify their actions, as the world is no more ready to accept the flimsy excuses they have been getting away with in the past. Only if we get old answers from our rulers, we might be able to ask about our more current and pressing concerns like price hike, food and floor shortage in an agricultural country, power and gas failures in a country which had excess, and the destruction of the little remaining state institutions etc etc. Only bosses can question the employees and the 160 million Pakistanis must become the bosses of their country and destiny. They don’t have any easy answers to their problems.

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