Articles of the year 2010

Corrupt Laws and their Effect
Published on June 26th, 2010

A few weeks ago a Federal Minister had the gall to state that poverty 'is not the cause of suicides in Pakistan'. Soon thereafter, a young thirteen-year-old child beat his younger sister to death for not letting him have the half-roti she was eating when he came home from work – from a job where he had not been paid for four months. This is the most savage indictment of the present rulers, for it highlights the depths of despair that exist in Pakistan. Instead of caring for the basic necessity of life – food, or to put it another way, the elimination of hunger – the members of the PPP government are concentrating on protecting their own ill-gotten gains, while perpetrating bigger scams. Reassured that there are Presidential pardons lurking in the background, just in case… Whatever happened to the much-hyped PPP motto of 'Roti, Kapra aur Makan'?!

The new generation of politicians has been bred for making money and all the catchphrases of 'the betterment of the people, the service of the people' etc. is mere empty sloganeering, not to be taken seriously, especially after the votes have been cast.

With an honest judiciary in place, the first and most important step towards a civil society has been taken. For all other actions, laws are in place which can be enforced by applying the necessary statutes. The success of the present Supreme Court will be gauged by its effectiveness in thwarting the challenges posed by the notoriously corrupt Babar Awan and his masters. A failure will send a signal to our coming generations that corruption is the inalienable right of the politician, as boldly claimed by some PPP ministers. This will lead to a new national order that will be based on crime and corruption. Already crime is rampant in our society, and chances are it will only get steadily worse. There are other countries where the Drug Mafia is in control, and murder is a commonplace method for ensuring compliance. In Pakistan the criminals have gravitated towards politics, for it seems the rewards are far richer than in the drug trade. Billion-dollar deals are 'no big deal' if the government is complicit, with the added advantage of not upsetting the Americans and the Europeans because no drugs are involved.

At immediate risk are our youngsters who are witnessing a breakdown in the law and order situation, starting with traffic violations. It will not be long before the gun-toting goons of our lawmakers overstep their authority and actually use their weapons, to disastrous consequences. The problem will arise when guns become the norm. Also when, inevitably, the gun culture becomes too expensive the gun owners will supplement their incomes with other criminal activities. This, too, will soon become the norm, and the politician-gangsters will enforce their criminal activities under the guise of political power. This is already happening in Pakistan in the shape of the Land Mafia – aka land-grabbers – the most successful being the political godfathers who provide the political muscle as a cover. The political parties have managed to steer clear of drugs, but the daily killings in the various areas of Karachi, so-called 'targeted killings', are merely other manifestation of a land grab.

All these are indications of a massive crime wave, and the younger generation is being schooled by its elders in the basics of 'How to Succeed in Crime' in order to multiply the politicians' financial and political power.

The courts will have to move swiftly to establish the rule of law. They could start with the implementation of a code of conduct for members of the Assemblies. Here the criterion could be the documents submitted by the members, i.e. their degrees, financial statements, etc. Using existing laws, the penalty imposed for mis-declaration should be the same as for perjury – for in essence the effect is the same. This would embolden the opposing candidate to provide more evidence against the violator. To pit the two protagonists against each other would give the Courts much-needed support in the implementation of the laws of the land.

At the present time we have an honest and powerful Bench in place. We need to protect the judiciary from the Babar Awans of our society. Their crude and transparent machinations must not be allowed to succeed. In fact, the foreign supporters of the present incumbents should be made to realize that their drafting of the infamous NRO was a failure, for such a black law was doomed from the start – some lawyers are looking into whether the enactment of the NRO was an unfriendly act towards the people of Pakistan. It also violates the Corrupt Practices Acts of the US and the UK, for both these countries prescribe severe prison sentences, and fines or both, for anyone convicted under these statutes. In the case of the drafting of the NRO, it could make Milliband and Negroponte liable for crimes against the laws of the US and the UK, through using the might of these two nations to impose such an act on the people of Pakistan.