Posts Tagged citizen

State accountability – all is not that bleak

6 September 2010

Raza Rumi

Earlier, I had written a piece on citizen accountability and Jhang model innovated by a bureaucrat – Zubair Bhatti – who ironically resigned from the civil service. I am posting a video of his talk for the visitors here.

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Bleak prospects

4 June 2010

My op-ed published in Express-Tribune today

It is evident that the Pakistani state faces a crisis of legitimacy and survival. Twelve years ago, on May 28, the Pakistani state displayed its nuclear prowess to the world especially to the ‘infidels’. After a decade, statehood and its compromised effectiveness stand exposed. True that the victims of the Lahore attacks were an underclass or at best residents with partial citizenship, i.e. the Ahmadis. But the inability of state agencies to fight splintered terror networks is worrisome.

The federal government had warned the provincial authorities of the impending attacks. The usual slovenliness and chaotic governance of the Pakistani variety treated it as just another communiqué. The police arrived late; and terrorists had implemented the plans rather adroitly making a mockery of Pakistan across the globe. Imagine a terrorist was nabbed through civic action, not the torture-friendly police. And guess where an injured miscreant was taken? No surprises here. A brutal murderer backed by large terror networks was admitted to Lahore’s busy public hospital where security was minimal given the level of threat. (more…)

Is this Jinnah’s Pakistan?

30 May 2010

Published today by Express Tribune

The massacre of Ahmadis in Lahore has once again exposed the inner fissures of our society. As if treating them like second class citizens was not enough, the attacks on their private space of worship has confirmed that militant Islamism is now an embedded reality. Those who have been denying the presence of Punjabi Taliban will have to construct another web of denial and disbelief. We saw signs of that after the fateful tragedy. Instead of constituting investigation teams and ensuring that all necessary leads are collated, senior officials of the Punjab government made a direct reference to RAW, the infamous Indian intelligence agency.

That the terrorists can attack anyone and anywhere is now an established reality. The fact that they chose Lahore and a vulnerable community is a clear message. Indeed, Pakistan as a state should reconsider its goals and strategy of survival. The symbolism of the day chosen for the heinous mass murders is also significant. It was Yaum-i-Takbeer when Pakistan’s atomic prowess was proved on the global stage. Perhaps the greatest delusion of the state’s might and invincibility seems to have been blown to bits. The process of bigotry that started in the 1950s culminated in Zulfikar Bhutto’s tragic action of declaring Ahmadis as non- Muslims in 1974. The Zia years deepened this culture of intolerance. Whilst we may have secured our ‘external defence’ through the much touted nuclear deterrence, internally Pakistan and its hapless citizens are more vulnerable than ever. Fundamentalism is a cancer that has widely spread in the body politic. Yet few wish to tackle it. For the past two years, get-Zardari debates have dominated Pakistan’s public discourse punctuated by the anti-Americanism of the right. The interior minister has been portrayed by the media Taliban as a corrupt nincompoop; and blood thirst for him is evident from the news pages and TV screens. Taliban apologists cannot confront the military establishment directly but the truth is the fight against the Taliban requires political stability and a domestic consensus. The right of Ahmadis to worship and lead a normal life according to the Constitution of Pakistan has been violated. What should a community do when the state and non-state actors are all geared to hound them? Is this Jinnah’s Pakistan? No. (more…)

Whither rule of law?

23 April 2010

My piece published in the Express-Tribune

State effectiveness, by most definitions, has been waning in Pakistan. The ability of the law enforcement agencies and institutions to deliver services and entitlements is dwindling.

Ultra-nationalists resent the ‘failed state’ branding but what else can describe a dysfunctional apparatus that is unable to provide a basic entitlement, i.e. security? After 1973, the state has undertaken no serious civil service reform and the top-down reform under former president Pervez Musharraf has failed.

Therefore Pakistan has, among other things, witnessed a near-collapse of its institutions especially the criminal justice system where the police and prosecution have lost their efficacy and millions of cases are pending in courts.

Terrorism is often viewed in the country as the handiwork of ‘anti- Pakistan’ elements. However, rarely has it been noted that our criminal justice system is unable to cope with the spiralling phenomenon called terrorism. Cases are registered but proper investigations never take place. The overstretched prosecutors, lacking incentives to deliver, seldom pursue the cases in the courts. Consequently, the courts acquit most of the accused due to lack of credible evidence. (more…)