The Static Pakistan - By: Munir M Hasan, PhD

The famous Urdu poet, Munir Niazi, said a poetic verse which is under consideration:

منیر اس ملک پر آسیب کا سایہ ہے یا کیا ہے

کہ حرکت تیز تر ہے اور سفر آہستہ آہستہ

Munir Niazi was lucky that in his times when he said this verse he could see the things moving forward although very slowly. But now the time has come when the actions seem to be moving much faster than before, and the results are seen to be static completely, or even moving in the backward direction.

There are many investigating agencies in Pakistan. Out of all these agencies National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has vast powers legally and appears to be more active than other agencies. Every day the news of its activities appears on TV channels, and in the talk shows the learned commentators show a very rosy picture as if soon something is going to happen in the benefit of the country. However, the reality is that while thousands of cases are being investigated in the NAB and in other investigating agencies, no fruitful results have been seen. Hundreds of thousands cases are pending in the courts for decades without a decision. A good number of politicians involved in election irregularities are enjoying the “stay orders” from the courts so much so that they complete their tenures on those stay orders and the cases against them become redundant after the completion of their tenures. If any elite is caught on the corruption charges, he lives a comfortable rather a VIP life during his police custody.

Talking about some specific events, the cases against hundreds of accused of Panama Papers case, Paradise Papers case and other leaks, are pending for years. The famous corruption case of the Na Ahel former Prime Minister of Pakistan has not been decided so far, although this case, after admitting by him and by his family the proprietary of the flats, it was a simple case to decide. He could have been asked by the court to produce the money trail for the purchase of these flats, and if he was unable to produce any money trail within a reasonable time of a few weeks, he could have been declared a stealer of the public money, convicted and punished within weeks. However, the case is being unnecessarily prolonged and the prosecution witnesses are being crossed examined as if it is the responsibility of the prosecution to give money trail of the flats.

Another prominent case is the absence of post-decision actions by the agencies after the decision of the apex court was announced in 2012 in Air Marshal (R) Asghar Khan’s case. No action was taken by the agencies on the court order in the last about six years and everybody was sleeping over it. Only recently the present honourable Chief Justice has taken a notice of it. If this action was taken soon after the decision of the Supreme Court in 2012, many prominent personalities including the Na Ahel former Prime Minister and his younger brother would not have been able to contest the 2013 elections and the fate of Pakistan would have been much different.

Some other prominent cases are the 2012 Baldia factory Fire case where more than 250 people were burnt alive and more than 600 were injured, and the Model Town Lahore killing case in which some 14 people were killed and about 90 people were injured. These cases are pending for many years without any results.

These days the honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan is seen very actively and rightly taking actions in a large number of suo motu notices relating to the fundamental rights of the general public. These steps are really worth appreciating. However, I see these events on the basis of their ultimate outcome. Many orders have been passed and more are expected to be passed in near future. These orders apparently are the executive orders of the court. The things are seemingly moving in the right direction. However, these orders being the executive orders and not the legal decisions of the court to be recorded in the PLD books, these cannot be quoted in future and implemented on permanent basis. These simply appear to be the temporary arrangements like many other executive orders given by the past rulers of Pakistan with no permanent useful results.

Just to quote a few examples, a large number of times in the past the roads have been cleared from the unauthorized occupation by the owners of the mobile cart shops occupying major parts of the roads, stopping unauthorized parking on the roads, demolishing a few buildings in the names of unauthorized construction, making changes in the Police set up and in many other administrative set ups, stopping the sale of the harmful bottled waters and other harmful eatables, stopping the sale of fake medicines, shutting down the unauthorized hydrants in Karachi, disposal of solid waste in Karachi, decreasing the fees of the schools, and many other similar public issues. Whenever an emergency is declared, the things seem to improve a little bit for a short time, but then the things once again come back to the same position as before.

In my opinion, the main reason for this static behavior is that, while the things are rectified for a short while, the culprits responsible for that disorder are never punished. For example, the Police are known as the patron of most of the crimes and their dens, but not a single senior police officer has ever been punished for keeping a blind eye on these crimes and criminals. The unauthorized buildings have been demolished, but no person from Building Control Authority has ever been punished to allow such illegal construction. Illegally constructed hydrants in Karachi have been demolished, but no person from Water & Sewerage Board has ever been punished for allowing the construction of illegal hydrants, and so on.

The present administrative orders of the honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan appear to be worthy of appreciation. However I feel that these orders will not live long and will meet the same fate as the fate of many other administrative orders given in the past, unless the real culprits are given exemplary punishments promptly.

And in Pakistani politics, the things will never move in the right direction unless the corrupt politicians and other corrupt dignitaries are punished within a reasonable time of weeks or a month.

Posted on May 16, 18 | 10:58 am