Rule of the jungle by Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi

There are many theories presented about why this dastardly act of terror in Karachi was committed. Some are proposing it is a great game played by some regional powers to damage China sponsored Economic Corridor to link Pakistan with new Silk Road. Others are suggesting Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) is behind it. Tehrike Taliban Pakistan (TTP) affiliate Jundullah and Islamic State has laid claim to be behind it. I don’t know which of these scenarios are true but I do know that those that pulled the trigger were Pakistanis themselves. There are possibly other Pakistanis that provided sanctuary to these criminals to plan this act and provided them logistics support to execute it. I also know that two local extremist entities have laid claim to be behind it although it is possible that masterminds and financiers are foreigners.

It is important to know this because foreign powers will always try to destabilize us and create chaos among us. So we can’t hide behind this excuse because even if we were a best run country these foreign powers would still be trying to destabilize us. We should be more worried about why Pakistanis are killing their own fellow citizens. We should be worried that our counter terrorism and counter intelligence is failing repeatedly. We should be worried that our police is incapable and unskilled to protect us. We should be concerned that our investigators are ill equipped, ill-trained and lack resources to investigate, apprehend and prosecute. There are many reasons for these failures but the most critical is our tendency towards lack of respect for law as citizens. The terrorists in Karachi came without covering their faces because they had no fear of law to be caught and punished. They knew the state has eroded so much that it has no will left to resist them. We mistakenly consider that being law abiding citizen means not to steal or kill anyone while violating standard operating procedures (SOP), codes and standards does not constitute breach of law. This is a mistaken notion and the main cause for most of our miseries.

I spend considerable time abroad. Whenever in Pakistan I tell my driver not to break any traffic laws. When we stop at a traffic light we almost always get honks, sarcastic remarks and occasionally a finger. I am perfectly comfortable in tolerating all these gestures of our disrespect for rule of law but my driver turns red in the face. The point I am trying to make is that following rule of law has become an anomaly in Pakistan. No one respects rules whether it is standing in line, traffic, filing forms, paying dues, respecting building codes, safety procedures and throwing trash at the proper place .We have become a jungle of people where everyone defines their own standards of behavior and consider it violation of their rights if someone tries to stop them.

Politicians are supposed to be role models. But instead they have become icons of breaking rule of law. They consider it a sign of weakness if they have to stand in line at the immigration desk, or respect a traffic stop or being asked to be checked during routine security inspection. Recent fiasco of PTI resignation from NA was another indication how far we have fallen to the pit of lawlessness. PTI MNAs publicly confessed on TV talk shows that they have resigned from the parliament but National Assembly Speaker needed further evidence that resignations were genuine. Both PML N, Speaker National Assembly and PTI MNAs, at least those that publicly claimed resignation, sent a message that political opportunism is more important than respect for any rule of law. Now imagine a young man sitting in front of TV watching all these public pronouncements of resignations and then learning that it was basically a slap on constitution and rule of law. I abhorred each time MNAs expressed this bravado of disrespect for constitution because they could have remained silent about it to keep a door open for themselves. There is a myth in Pakistan that if a person belongs to a party then he can’t disagree with their decisions. I do not conform to this principle and consider it one of the main reasons for lack of evolution of political parties. The situation does not end there. Look at the way political parties are run. There is no respect for party constitution or due process.

Jamat-e-Islami that presents itself to be a principled party violated rights of half the population of Lower Dir, in by-election, by preventing women to vote. Can this elected representative from Lower Dir legitimately claim to have mandate of the people? Is Jamat-e-Islami sending a message that Hazarat Umar ibn Al-Khattab (RATA) did not know Islam when he appointed a woman as first market inspector? Could that woman do her job sitting at home? Is Jamat-e-Islami sending a message that it did not mean anything for Muslim Ummah when Hazarat Khadijah (RATA) became the first adult to accept Islam as her faith? Is there a difference between pre-Islamic Qureish burying their daughters in the sands of desert while modern day Qureish burying them in four walls of their homes? Can these people lead this nation to build it stronger? I don’t think so.

Military is a professionally managed institution but even there the SOPs are only for the lower cadre while Generals have repeatedly violated constitution in the past. Or engaged in regime change to further their institutional interests. Bureaucrats are no better. To serve the people with honor they have to attend to their offices for full day of work and deliver services to the people as mandated in their employment contracts. But they work short hours and behave as if people are supposed to serve them and are subservient to them. People have to plead with them to get even their genuine work done. Their appointments are made out of merit, promotions are based on favoritism, and placements are made to benefit vested interests. Same is the situation in police, customs, FIA and all other departments. Teachers in public schools that are supposed to provide an example of a model character are hired through bribes and have no interest in imparting knowledge or build civic sense.

The situation is so bad that it will require a generational struggle to fix this country. But what is the starting point? This efforts have to be led by anthropologists, intellectuals, artists, journalists and social scientists. They have to develop a new social contract and then promote it through various channels including op-ed pieces, drama, higher education and art. Once there is a national agreement on that social contract then a political platform has to be evolved that is an institution rather than a family enterprise. This political institution should seek peoples mandate to govern with focus on the larger national interest. I am trying to contribute my three cents to this cause through writing and working inside PTI to transform it into an institution. I do feel there are signs of national awakening to work out the new social contract but I still don’t see the ideological movement towards it. Without this ideological movement the chances of success are small. Arab Spring lacked this ideological orientation and failed to achieve its objective.

This nation needs leaders that can show through personal example that they respect the law and constitution. Sweet talk alone is not acceptable anymore.

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