Friday May 24, 2024

Business as usual at halt — fear technology and state

By Senator Rehman Malik
January 22, 2019

Governments around the world derive respect from their citizens through good governance and fear and deterrence of law, which they implement indiscriminately. While the governments enforce rule of law through state functionaries, it also provides for due indemnity to the relevant officials who perform their functions within the parameters of law and in good faith.

Every state has evolved a system of punishment to ensure respect for the law and harmony in society. This system instils the belief that fear of punishment would deter crimes in the future.

The prompt and indiscriminate dispensation of justice law not only generates respect for the law but also creates deterrence against breaking of the law.

It is the fear of the law, which creates deterrence to stop the people committing a crime and this deterrence, in turn, becomes an invisible cop to control the crime. In other words, fear and respect of law are correlated in the criminal judicial system. At the same time, the fear carries negative fallout in the society if this fear of law takes the shape of a tool of victimisation based on vendetta, extraction, humiliation and fear of losing their belongings & job and fear of non-protection of their investment and protection of life. Fear is an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm whereas deterrence is the act of discouraging an action or event through instilling doubt or fear of the consequences.

The history of various countries speaks of their efforts to address the challenges faced by those countries, including fighting wars, to stand higher in the world community.

On the contrary, it is ironic that our national leaders are themselves demonising the country portraying it as the most corrupt country on the international forums as well as in the media. They are portraying every Pakistani as money launder, drug supplier and rape criminal etc.

The revengeful attitude of the government towards the opposition is never going to benefit the country. The rhetoric of corruption without indiscriminate accountability is not creating any deterrence or fear of law rather supporting the narratives of the criminals.

The ICJ, which leaked the Panama Papers, hit the 140 well-known politicians from around 50 countries of the world. The Panama Leaks within a few hours shook the foundations of power around the world. It triggered the resignation of Iceland’s Prime Minister while President Mauricio Macri of Argentina started getting calls to resign. If we look closely into the names, all of those were regarded as the great or respectful leaders.

I am a great supporter of accountability through courts of law and not through media trial or through publicised investigation and propaganda, which not only negates the maxim of law that “every person is innocent unless proven otherwise” but also brings disrepute to the accused person as well as to the country. The accountability of politicians and bureaucrats through media has, on one hand, caused embarrassment to our own country as well as the countrymen, but on the other hand, we also rant about lack of investment in the country because the investors are fearful of their security and life as well as the fear of loss of their investment due to frauds or unstable investment environment. The fear of the investors is the product of non-existence of any legal deterrence against violation of laws. When the investor feels insecure in terms of his security to life and investment, he takes his investment to other countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Canada, and Thailand rather investing in his own country.

For God sake! The government must undertake the accountability of all the corrupt elements through the application of relevant laws by the competent courts but not through social media propaganda, press conferences or electronic media. The extra-judicial accountability of any person accused of corruption or corrupt practices is having negative effects on the relevant state institutions, which ultimately fail in their duties to protect the rights of the citizen against any injustice.

The bureaucrats, bankers and other officials are now scared, and they are not ready to give their honest input in the files, as they are scared of Interrogation and implication in any case in future.

We, as a state, have only promoted the fear rather than promoting the idea of accountability in our business community and investment sectors through the indiscriminate application of laws. Let me call it as “fear technology” in the name of accountability to terrorise various factions of society, including businessmen and the potential investors. This fear technology is eating away comfort zone for general public and investors, including government officials.

This fear technology has almost paralyzed our bureaucrats with fear of humiliation even in performing their normal duties. The present government has so far also failed to give confidence to the officials and business community to work fearlessly. I have a firm belief that the government is almost at halt at present because of the fear of insecurity induced in the minds of official functionaries. The government has to enhance the sense of security to all the stakeholders for better governance and transparent accountability through accountability reforms. We as a nation have to halt the use of fear technology, which is highly detrimental to the entire governance system. Let us be accountable as a nation for our every act and let the State ensure not to promote or adopt the use of fear technology to overpower the opponents to run the government.

I fully appreciate and endorse the views expressed by CJP Mr Saeed Khosa that “let us also discuss how the legislature can be restricted to its legislative domain and how the legislators can be held back to their legislative role rather than encroaching upon the executive domain through development funds and through interference in appointment, posting, transfer or promotion of public servants which is the main breeding ground for misuse of authority, corruption, lack of merit, inefficiency and the resultant bad governance”.

The bureaucrats need constitutional protection for their legal and honest actions taken in good faith whereas politicians need to be treated with respect rather are subjected to media trial. Similarly, the business community needs to be respected and protected for their services to the country and any action against above all should be initiated only once a crime is established. The accountability laws should be reformed to put an end to the victimisation and accountability agencies should follow the law strictly and should be liable to accountability and punishment in cases of false prosecution.

The writer is Chairman of think tank “global eye” & former Interior Minister of Pakistan.

@Email: rmalik1212@gmail .com

Twitter @Senrehmanmalik, @GlobalEye_GSA

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