State failure

  • Even a pigeon doesn’t bow his head, within PML-N, without the leadership’s nod

In any democratic setup, the citizens of the nation reserve the right to register their protest, peacefully. The right to protest is the essence of democracy and its absence would be equivalent to autocratic rule. The Pakistani system also allows its people to exercise their right to protest against whatever it is they so desire.

Despite being contrary to law, our country has witnessed countless incidents of violent protests. Law envisages a right to protest, not wreak havoc and put a city or two at halt. Be it the lawyers movement for the restoration of the judiciary or any other demonstration down the memory lane, Pakistanis have from time to time spilt blood in order to register their protest. The lawyers’ movement might be given some leverage though as it was against military rule and automatically turned bloody.

Let us comprehend the actual reality. When a state fails to establish its writ, the on-going Faizabad fiasco is what materialises. A handful of people can hold the federal capital of the country hostage and force the administration to create alternate routes for the local citizens. For a moment lets postpone discussing the people actually blocking the interchange and talk about our rulers.

There is a new interior minister who was very sentimental when he wasn’t allowed entry into the accountability court in order to mark his attendance as one of the darbaris. His emotions were sky-rocketing as he, in that moment, felt his authority challenged and his position of power jeopardised. And yet we have the same Ahsan Iqbal, being granted full authority to clear the city of the rowdy demonstrators, failing to fulfill his duties.

Ironically, only a few days back the Sharif family and their cronies highlighted how the international world was analysing the Panama judgment and went forward in commenting that it had brought shame to the country, globally. I’d like to pose a few questions to them. Isn’t being held hostage by a few hundred people a bigger embarrassment as compared to a legal decision of the country’s highest court? Is it not shameful that the federal government has remarkably revealed it’s spineless and gutless character and is continuously failing to move in against the protestors jeopardising day-to-day lives of the local citizens?

How deplorable is the fact that the ruling family’s sons are wanted proclaimed offenders in their own country? The same princely sons who conveniently state that the laws of Pakistan do not apply to them

Simultaneously, isn’t it more degrading to have an absconder as the finance minister of the country? The same finance minister who is charged with financial corruption. How deplorable is the fact that the ruling family’s sons are wanted proclaimed offenders in their own country? The same princely sons who conveniently state that the laws of Pakistan do not apply to them. Nevertheless, my fellow countrymen would still regard such people to be their rulers and continue to vote them into power.

Reverting to the Faizabad stalemate, even the Islamabad High Court’s order was disappointing in its true sense. The same member of the bench who declared the judiciary, including himself, to be the only lawful umpires of the country restrained in passing an order against the protestors for the longest time. In fact, he even supported their stance in his observations. Not very long ago the same court barred a political party from its plans of locking down the capital. Not that I supported the lockdown, to begin with, yet what bothers me is that the proposed lockdown was as of that moment only a proposal and hadn’t actually materialised. Despite that, the court ordered that they will not be allowed to move forward with their plan, effectively putting an end to PTI’s ambitions.

Fast-forward to today; a group of religious, what some people call fanatics, have in its true form locked down the main artery between the twin cities and have been in occupation of the same for almost a fortnight. To begin with, the IHC merely advised the protestors to end their sit-in.

Such blatant discrimination between two different groups protesting or planning to do so is unbecoming of a member of the superior judiciary. It is equivalent to losing all hope in judicial decisions, especially those concerning the sentiments of the public.

It was only before the start of the weekend that a calculated order was passed by the IHC, ordering the capital administration to clear the area within 24 hours. My question remains. What took this order so long?

On the other hand, the protestors occupying Faizabad raised a few demands before retracting some of the original. Their foundational demand however persists. My humble advice to these peace-loving gentlemen is that if at all the change in the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat oath was deliberate, it is unlikely that the law minister acted of his own accord. Even a pigeon doesn’t bow his head, within PML-N, without the leadership’s nod. Therefore whatever deliberate or purposeful act was undertaken during the amendment most likely was with the consent and approval of the actual echelons of power.

Nonetheless, creating difficulties for other members of the society and blocking roads to make their voices heard is in no way mandated by law. I may even go far and support the particular stance of the protestors that those responsible for omitting the rudimentary principle of Islam from the electoral oath should be brought to task. However, not at the cost of paralysing an entire city and having no regard of the country’s law.

It is indeed a blatant failure of the state when one, they personally fail to establish the writ of the state and take action. And two, despite being ordered by the IHC, eventually, they fail to comply with the same and establish themselves as spineless and lacking the fortitude for an actual leadership.

Let us also not forget that this is the same government which attacked a fellow province’s chief minister who at the time was present in his own territory and yet fails to move in against religious protestors. Such rulers of the state should amicably have vacated the powers of corridor if at all they cared about the country and weren’t in for a quest for personal gain.