Pakistan’s Greatest Crisis is Bigotry!

Prime Minister Imran Khan may claim that he is moving the country towards a Riasat e Madina but the reality is that Pakistan is no country for any minority, ethnic, linguistic, religious, or gender based. Journalists are killed, minorities are lynched, women are assaulted, and civilian politicians spend decades in prison.

Pakistan ranks 130 out of 139 countries on rule of law on the World Justice Project. In a recent piece, Tariq Khosa, a former IG police and currently director of Centre for Governance Research, wrote “Pakistan’s greatest crisis is the ‘climate of bigotry’. The worst manifestation of this was the lynching of the non-Muslim Sri Lankan manager of a Sialkot factory on frivolous blasphemy accusations. A debate in parliament saw both the government and opposition blaming the lapses in the criminal justice system. No one had the courage to admit that the state policy of appeasement and society’s moral decay has made us hostage to bigotry and violent extremism.”

As Khosa notes, “The Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan is a classic example of the state’s abject surrender to a monster created and fostered to unleash violence against those deviating from the path set by the string-pullers. How was the TLP registered as a political party? The ECP asked no questions. Forming a platform of a lar­ge chunk of the Barelvi vote bank, it was used as an instrument of political engineering during the 2018 national elections.”

Next, malady is the “’culture of impunity’. Corruption has permeated every walk of life. A source in NAB revealed that bureaucrats and businessmen were more corrupt than politicians. What about sac­red cows among judges and generals? No, we cannot mention their alleged corrupt practices. Sadly, many civil servants, including police officers, lack the cou­r­age to resist the pressure exerted by some chief exe­cutives and ministers to facilitate malpractice and misuse their authority. Files move faster when palms are greased. No wonder Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index ranked Pakistan 140 out of 180 countries, with a low CPI score of 28 during 2021, indicating a drop of 16 places from its previous ranking.”

Further, the “NAB has been consistently used as an instrument of political engineering and arm-twisting. Recent am­endments in the NAB law have rendered it a too­th­less body whose chief serves at the pleasure of the ruling elite. “Without strong watchdog institutions, im­punity becomes the very foundation upon which systems of corruption are built. And if impunity is not demolished, all efforts to bring an end to corruption are in vain,” said Nobel laureate Rigob­e­r­­ta Menchu. If we cannot select a person of unimpea­chable integrity, absolute impartiality and unquestioned professional ability, then we might as well shut down NAB.”

Finally, is the unresolved malady of missing persons or ‘enforced disappearances’, “a wound that continues to fester due to the impunity enjoyed by certain state agencies. A bill passed by the relevant standing committee and National Assembly went ‘missing’ recently after it was sent to the Senate. Strange things happen in our Wonderland. The enactment of a law criminalising ‘enforced disappearances’ is a long-standing demand of bodies like Amnesty International and HRCP. The issue of missing persons that surfaced in the hinterlands of Balo­chistan and erstwhile Fata on the pretext of combating terrorism and insurgency have been extended to the rest of the country, including Islamabad.”

Khosa calls upon “state and society need to initiate a serious dialogue to ensure “a stable and secure Pakistan where citizens enjoy their constitutional privileges and are protected against violence, extremism, and crime, and where rule of law is up­­held equally for all”.

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