The pit is usually a finite hole, but it can also be infinite both in its depth and the intensity of dark that one would be shrouded in when taking the plunge.
The deeper one falls, the tougher it would be to make one’s way out. But, there are some who don’t want to come out in a last-ditch bid to hide sickening manifestations of the only trade they have practised during their stints in power: the trade of loot and plunder, deceit and deception, falsification, fabrication and forgery. In simpler words, it is a sordid charade they have been enacting. No one is more qualified to represent this breed of people than the Sharifs of Raiwind and the Zardaris of Bambino fame with their retinue of courtiers.
Beyond the gravity of their financial crimes, the fact that they are still out enjoying the fruits of their plunder reflects the real challenge that Pakistan faces at this juncture: virtual liquidation of the instruments of accountability in the country. Notwithstanding the horrendous and directionless nature of investigation conducted by the concerned agencies and institutions, the manner in which cases are mishandled and judgments delayed through all tiers of the courts of law is a gross travesty of the need and spirit of justice. The crime is visible. Credible evidence is available. Witnesses are willing. But justice remains the missing link.
To pour salt on the wounds, the need for administering speedy justice has been gradually replaced with the propensity for indulging in crass polemics which come in abundance, often laced with a highly opinionated, pompous and threatening posture. But when it is time for delivering the needful, none of it is visible to the eye.
This malady has not surfaced overnight. There has been a sinister method which was put to practice deliberately and designedly by the mafia syndicates through their multiple tenures in power. The sole purpose of their wicked indulgences has been to blunt the possibility of the rulers from ever being held accountable for their myriad crimes. This is why we have a history of ‘deals’ in the country where criminals have been allowed to walk away free after inflicting grievous damage upon the state and playing havoc with the fate of the people. Worse still, they come back to repeat the infliction.
Unfortunately, the system has shown no sensitivity for the suffering caused to people owing to this ceaseless spate of crime. There is no sensitivity either about the impact it may have had in spreading degeneration in society and eliminating the opportunities for impoverished communities. There is no sensitivity also to the fact that prolongation of this scourge would bedevil the fate of the state and the people, depriving them of their dreams. It is like plunging them into an eternal hellhole.
White collar crime aside where, understandably, state-of-the-art expertise is required to catch the guilty, there is frequent delay, even denial of justice in cases like the one about the heinous murder of Noor Muqaddam. These cases which should be decided in days drag on for months and years. There is also miscarriage of justice in cases like the one of Shahrukh Jatoi. Instead of spending his time in a prison cell like all other convicts, he is found occupying an entire floor of a hospital furnished with luxurious provisions. When the matter is reported, he is quietly moved to a specially furnished accommodation within the precincts of the jail. The provincial government remains quiet. The judiciary takes no notice. Soon, he will return to the comfort of the hospital to plan another gruesome murder.
It appears that, as part of an ominous plan, the mafia syndicates and state institutions have joined hands to make sure that the guilty are shielded, secured and promoted to come back to further dig in their poisonous tentacles. The system has broken down completely. It is no longer functional and the utility of any patchwork remains patently doubtful.
What about the perpetrators of the system which has been corrupted over decades? They are so deeply wedded to their illicit ways and bounties that even a slight improvement in their conduct is well-nigh impossible. They are denuded of their core faculties. They are blind for they are the guardians of their pelf and possessions. They are blind for they are driven by their biases and prejudices. They are blind for they can’t differentiate right from wrong. They are blind for they are hostage to their crimes. They are blind for they cast accusatory fingers towards others while their insides overflow with filth. They are blind to their deceit. They are blind for they want deals, but lack the courage to face the truth. They are blind for they have lost the sense of shame and remorse. Hardened are their criminal indulgences. Even more hardened is the pile of hubris they hide their ugly faces behind.
Such is the state of the system and the institutions brought about by the mafia syndicates. It is no longer a case of administering medication for gradual improvement because those who would be entrusted with the task of doing so are the ones who have reduced it to this abysmal state. Inveterate criminals can’t be taken for messiahs. Their wicked machinations cannot be taken as tools for reform. There is a need to look beyond cutting and pruning. This system has lived its life and is much too jaundiced to respond to treatment. Traditional remedies will not work. An out-of-box solution remains the only credible option.
In order to address the causes of the widespread malaise the country is suffering from, the facade of appearances will have to be dismantled. The first difficult step is the prognosis. The time for prescribing a treatment comes next. Whether that can be undertaken within the excessively corrupted environment with the formulations, methods and instruments available remains an exceedingly doubtful prospect.
The informed choice is between continuing to operate within the confines of a derelict system and the need to move away to an alternative that would herald transparent, effective, efficient and sustainable governance. A system cannot be accepted or rejected by mere attributions. Its relevance should be thoroughly evaluated keeping in mind the existent grassroots realities, needs and demands. We should not be afraid of taking hard decisions for extricating the country out of the morbid pit it has been pushed into.
There is a need to bring the curtain down on a system that remains inherently tardy, unjust and complicit. This charade is much too mocking to linger any further.
The writer is the special assistant to the PM on information, a political and security strategist, and the founder of the Regional Peace Institute. He tweets @RaoofHasan
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