Daily Archives: August 28, 2010

Sialkot – an abject governance failure

M Jan’s exclusive contribution for PTH. The author makes a good case for institutional overhaul before it is too late. RR

The sadistic ritual of beating two youth to death, played out in Sialkot, is a cruel and brutal indictment of our society as a whole, as well as our governance and law enforcement mechanisms. It also is a glimpse of things to come, as well as a symptom of a larger malaise that has now afflicted this country’s governance and its institutions, which has, eaten them hollow, from within.

The larger malaise that has rendered our governance ineffective and institutions dysfunctional, are none other than what the Quaid asked us to immediately set about, to eliminate, i.e., corruption, nepotism, jobbery and sifaarish, which have been openly accepted as the norm, and are utilized without any shame in our society and polity, and are a means of political survival for our politicians. The edifice of our elections and democracy stands on these very evils, along with the Thana, patwar khana and kutcheri. The police officials and the public people involved, would be apprehended and punished, but would that be the end of it? We have always looked for shortcuts and applied medicines to treat the apparent sores, and have never gone for treatment of the disease causing the sores on our national body, never considered surgery as an option, since our diagnosis of the problem, have always been incorrect.

If we do not heed the wake up calls, in the form of such incidents, and genuinely over haul our institutions, then I’m afraid we might be in for some very nasty and horrific surprises in the near future. As soon as the flood waters recede and the children of a lesser god realize what has happened to them, as well as what kind of money has been squandered in their names, all hell would break loose. Expecting the police to be an island of professional and moral excellence in a vast desert of moral degradation, lost integrity and a morass of corruption, nepotism, jobbery and sifaarish, is akin to asking for the moon. Not only the control, but also its day to day working is blatantly interfered with, by our political elite, who in recorded history have never ever used it for any good purpose, but have systematically and endemically abused it, perhaps more than any other government department in Pakistan, and they have meted out the same treatment to their voters, as well. So, does it still come as a surprise, as to why the people and the by standing police officials, behaved like beasts.

The “police culture” has not and would not change because our politics have not changed, and as we all know, politics and politicians in this country, do NOT want it to change, because they are dependent on it, for victory in elections, whether local, provincial or national. None of these politicians claiming victory after victory, in elections, can do so, without the connivance and support of the local police, such are the devious tools of democracy in our beloved land. The overall results of such charade elections cause fractured/fragmented coalition governments, surviving at the mercy of such runaway politicians. To keep these politicians within the fold, political favors have to be doled out, in the form of appointing their incompetent/ non professional and morally depraved favorites as police officers, in various key appointments, making short shrift of professionalism, integrity and morals, at the altar of political expediency. The new designation for a District SP, i.e. DPO, has already gained notoriety, as District Political Officer, since the only current criteria, to be appointed as one, is to be politically correct, not professionally. This holds true for all dispensations in this country, whether democratic, authoritarian or military.

The only way forward now, is to conduct deep and incisive surgery, trim the deadwood, make all recruitment, appointments and promotions ONLY and ONLY on MERIT alone, with no other extraneous factor vectoring in, AND, to free the day to day working of police from political interference. There are still a lot of good professional police officers in this service, but none posted in the field, due to the dirty politics and immoral dynamics involved in field postings and functioning. The police are a service that is REQUIRED and cannot be done without, because it is the only department that enforces the WRIT of the State. It is time the people and our politicians decide what kind of a police department they want? A brute and cruel force, as it is in its present form or a truly responsive public service department committed to protect the life, property and honor of people? The time to ACT is NOW.


Filed under Pakistan

Religion and Sialkot Incidence: Is There Really a Strong Connection?

by Raza Habib Raja

Right now the  brutality shown by the mob in Sialkot has taken the country by storm. Everyone is condemning it and various commentators are busy interpreting the causes of the incidence. The causes of the incidence, as touted by the various quarters range from lack of Islam to too much Islam depending whether you are a religious conservative or a liberal.

Public lynching is a horrific incidence and if televised is bound to create  severe revulsion. However, one has to be careful while trying to interpret the reasons behind such mob behaviour. Forcefully linking it with either lack of or excess of religion may lead us to wrong conclusions and damage our credibility as well. I have come across a host of articles from both religious and liberal side who have tried to spin the incidence to fit in their general outlook of life.

According to religious conservatives, the incidence shows lack of faith and erosion of morals due to religions declining influence. Of course the familiar nonsense of “NO Muslim could have done it” is also being voiced by the conservative side.

On the other hand some of the liberal journalists are spinning  to show that mob violence in Sialkot is in some ways a manifestation of religious fervour. References to Taliban and Zia’s times are being made and utterly unconvincing linkages are being drawn. I think some of us are ready to compromise credibility in our yearning to be called a “liberal”!

Add to it that most of the media has assumed on its own that the brothers were not guilty of robbery but ended up at the receiving end due to some misfortune. Of course media can be right but at least till now, information is not complete. Mature reporting requires that conclusions should not be drawn before full facts are known.

Continue reading


Filed under Pakistan

Rescuing the Pakistani state

Raza Rumi

Three weeks after the floods have broken Pakistan’s back, the international community is yet to show its resolve in helping a drowning country. The reasons for such a slow response are erroneously being understood in the context of the Pakistani government or the current crop of civilians in power. However, this is a narrow twist to the reality. The real angst and distrust being displayed by the world is at the Pakistani ‘state’. The situation is also reflective of the duplicity of international opinion makers and power-centres in labelling Pakistan as a country with an ‘image problem’.

One is sick of reading nauseating reports on how the post-earthquake assistance was ‘diverted’ or squandered. The truth is that in 2005 a military dictator was ruling Pakistan and the entire world was doing business with him. At that moment, the issues of democracy, transparency and human rights all took a backseat and strategic imperatives prevailed.

Pakistani, and by extension the global media, are regurgitating tiresome cliches about corruption without talking about reforming state institutions. For instance, not a single commentator has said that we have a new accounting system in the form of the Project to Improve Financial Reporting and Auditing (Pifra) in place. But it has not been put into place effectively at the provincial and district levels. This is the way we will ensure transparency and good tracking of money received and spent. Continue reading


Filed under Pakistan, public policy, state