The farce of accountability

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  • Never fail to protest!

In any society, accountability of public figures and functionaries and justice are regarded as indispensable pillars to erect an edifice of a just and progressive state. Their absence hinders peace, harmony and socio-economic development besides unleashing fissiparous tendencies that tend to shatter national cohesion and sometimes even lead to the break-up of the states. History is replete with examples of states disintegrating due to lack of justice and accountability.

Regrettably in the land of the pure we love to call Pakistan there is no system of across the board accountability and whatever steps were taken by the military dictators who justified their putsch for accountability as well as the so-called representative regimes, smacked of political vendetta and witch-hunt. The farce of accountability has been repeatedly enacted by those who were themselves more corrupt than the one’s whom they wanted to hold accountable. The result is that the corruption not only snow-balled in the higher echelons of the government machinery but it also has percolated to the lowest rung of the society.

It is a total rot. Our law enforcement agencies, anti-corruption apparatus, judiciary and government departments which are supposed to ensure rule of law, justice, checking corruption and promoting well being of the masses, are themselves afflicted with corruption to the core. Corruption is generally defined as misuse of entrusted power or authority by the elected politicians or appointed civil servants for private gains. It usually entails embezzlement of funds, nepotism, kickbacks, bribery as well as deliberate attempts to perpetuate a system with inbuilt avenues of corruption, graft and entitlement. Corruption has many forms but the major cause of concern are the systemic corruption and political corruption which germinate other forms of corruption that eat into the social and economic fiber of a country besides generating social tensions and hampering  its economic progress.

In countries with written constitutions delineating the domain of responsibilities and obligations of the state and constitutional institutions, meddling by one institution into the affairs of the other institution not only is tantamount to breach of the constitution but also corruption for misusing its authority.

In countries with written constitutions delineating the domain of responsibilities and obligations of the state and constitutional institutions, meddling by one institution into the affairs of the other institution not only is tantamount to breach of the constitution but also corruption for misusing its authority

What is happening in the country at the moment in the name of accountability, with the judiciary virtually taking over the functions of the executive and even trying to overlord the parliament is a serious breach of the constitution and the misuse of powers. The fact is that the judiciary in Pakistan is also not free of corruption. Ask the common man who has to endure the agony of litigation fuelled and sustained by rampant corruption among those who are entrusted with the power to adjudicate.

The CJ therefore should have focused on his own domain to ensure that the people get quick and inexpensive justice. Where there is justice there can be no corruption. Fixing the judiciary itself would have been a great service to this nation.

People acting as self-styled saviours and on a divine mission must ensure self-accountability before they venture on to lay their hands on others. The CJ and the judges of the apex court are bound by the constitution and the code of conduct for them issued by the Supreme Judicial Council. They should not consider themselves beyond accountability for their actions and if they do they are better advised to heed a quote from Thomas Paine an English-born American political activist, philosopher, political theorist and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States: “A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be entrusted by anybody.” Similarly another wise man and philosopher from China, Confucius, said: “To be wealthy and honoured in an unjust society is a disgrace” The top priority of the judiciary is and should be dispensation of quick and cheaper justice in conformity with the law and the constitution.

Fixing corruption in the echelons of the government and among the public functionaries and improving the system of governance is the responsibility of the executive and the parliament which act on behalf the people. Reforms and elimination of corruption cannot be ensured through indiscreet and unconstitutional actions by those who are not supposed to have any concern with them. It is an evolutionary process and the onus lies on the political parties who rule the country on the basis of people’s franchise. There accountability is supposed to be carried out by the people through ballot. That is the right way to run the state affairs in a democratic dispensation. Any deviation from it can have disastrous consequences and this hapless nation continues to suffer from the consequences of the unconstitutional indiscretions by the state institutions. Unfortunately some of the politicians have invariably acted as accomplices of those who have taken this nation for a ride, for their own vested interests at the cost of the people.

The dilemma is that the people of Pakistan who are the real sovereigns after God as per our constitution have been taking it lying down. This cycle and unholy alliance between the politicians wearing white masks on their black faces and those who have defied the constitution and vision of the founding father can only be broken by the people through resistance and protest. A Romanian-born Jew, American writer, political activist Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel said: “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice but there must never be time when we fail to protest.”