In 1966, the Leader-Post newspaper reported on dacoits on Sindh and found that the cost of arranging a murder in Sindh was Rs1,000.
While that number is now ten to 20 times as high, the state of law and order seems as despondent now as it was then. “By the end of this autumn the police, who had organised a clean-up campaign, could only claim to have killed two dacoits,” the 1966 story states.
It wouldn’t be surprising to find that statistic in a current report on the state of law and order in Sindh, but can you blame the police when they’re focused on VIP and VVIP security and ferrying mangoes?
It isn’t surprising that MPAs have consistently focused on security issues during the budget debate in the Sindh Assembly. On Friday, Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s MPA Rehan Zafar said that he had been told by law enforcement agencies to “restrict his movement” because they couldn’t guarantee his safety. “I told them they should give me an armoured personnel carrier like they have then!” he exclaimed. “If they can’t protect me as an MPA, how can they protect people in my constituency?”
That seems to be the question of the year, or at least the past two decades.
But the government has other things to worry about. There is no home minister – the portfolio is currently with the Sindh chief minister – and everything seems stuck in a state of limbo. And even though there seems to be a near-daily rumour that the MQM has asked for the home ministry, that’s easily debunked by the common belief that the party is set to exit the coalition once the budget has been passed by the assembly. And the budget debate is set to wrap up soon. On Friday, political parties agreed to suspend the question and answer hour over the next few days so they could have as many MPAs as possible to speak on the budget for 2012-2013.
Come to think of it, there hasn’t been a prime minister or a federal cabinet for the past few days either and the country hasn’t collapsed or miraculously changed as a result.
In fact, save for the residents of Islamabad, no one really seems to care about the fact that there is no prime minister. It’s difficult to care when there isn’t any electricity to watch what passes off as analysis these days on television talk shows or when the newspaper hawker can’t show up because there is a strike. A 1958 review in the New York Times of a book by William O Douglas, an associate justice of the US Supreme Court, about his travels through the region quotes a line: “The real enemies of modern Pakistan are hunger, disease, illiteracy, ignorance and superstition.” But let that never get in the way of the blame game of who’s responsible for this.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2012.
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