If our police force is above the system, then why have laws at all?

We want the powerful to kneel before the law and simultaneously want concessions for our own selves.

Zafar Zulqurnain Sahi May 28, 2015
When a law enforcer killed a lawyer, a citizen of Pakistan, he did not just kill a human being, he also injured the already burnt and bruised body of the sick and dying ‘rule of law’When the lawyers reacted by destroying state property and thrashing several individuals for they were colleagues of the culprit, they added insult to that injury.

Yes there was a better, saner, less violent way to register their protest. But they weren't protesting, they were venting out frustration and anger. They weren't protesting against the murderer, who is an individual; they were expressing their contempt and hatred towards a system that allows such criminals to wear a uniform and take guise of our protectors. In a way, we were protesting against ourselves, as part of a society that cultivates corruption and nepotism into tools of our own demise.

Segments of our society, institutions of our state and we, the individual citizens of this unfortunate country, are all responsible for the deplorable state that is our present. The freedom with which a law enforcement agency killed members of the very public they swore to protect, speaks of the confidence they had in lack of swift and effective justice. How those murders were allowed - if not orchestrated - by the government is evidence of a manipulation prone system of retribution that is our legal system. Protests, riots and sit-ins, not any less angry and resolved than the lawyer's protest yesterday, resulted in a joint investigation team distributing clean chits like candies to trick-a-treating kids on Halloween.

Human beings came up with the idea of laws and rules to co-exist peacefully. Laws are useless unless they rule. Selective justice is, at the same time, condemned and endorsed by us as a society. We want the powerful to kneel before law and simultaneously want concessions for our own selves. We live in a society where nuisance value takes precedence over financial incentives associated with a job. We want that position of influence to maneuverer our way around laws and rules. From the driver who dials his phone and hands it over to the traffic warden preparing to give him a ticket, to the father who calls well-connected friends for help in saving his son who just killed a couple of pedestrians while he was drunk, everyone wants to be above the law. In the end, it is all about opportunity really.

Of course the actions of a police officer who killed two lawyers point blank cannot be ignored, should not be ignored. Neither should we ignore the actions of those who killed several in Model Town last year. The government who is responsible for, if not guilty of, these crimes should not be allowed to evade justice and retribution. Those who take law into their own hands after every such incident should also be dealt with in accordance with law. But dealing with any one of these vices in isolation would be as futile as treating just the kidney when the cancer has spread to all organs.

Politicians have never been out of the limelight when it comes to bashing and blaming for all ills of our country. Judiciary and military have, at times, joined this club of the bashed. Till recently, media had managed to maintain its charade of self-proclaimed righteousness, but has now exposed several black sheep of its own. Bureaucracy, lawyers, doctors, industrialists, vendors - no class or group of our society has hands any cleaner than the rest.

The problem is not in any of these institutions of our country or organs of the state, the problem is us and our mind-sets. Our afflictions are not owing to a vocal and filthy minority alone, but also to the silent majority. A majority who chooses to ignore or to not ignore just for a while. Some with their actions and words, some with their silence, we have all contributed to our suffering and misery.

I intentionally attribute the ethical and moral ills of our country to a minority, and just collusion by ignorance to a majority, because I still believe in Pakistan and I know that the good are in a majority, only they may not just be good or loud enough to turn the tide. I have been in an assembly, have had politicians as my colleagues, hence I know there are several very sincere, patriotic men and women of integrity in their midst, members from all political parties. Same goes for the judiciary and even the police.

Our tendency to highlight the bad and hide the good and consequently eliminate any and all hope, forcing more and more of us to turn, is one of our ills. But by far the worst of our ills is our erroneous belief and hope that change will be thrust upon us from without, that a saint would one day come and mend everything there is to mend.

We have waited, we have hoped and we have seen but we haven't changed anything at all. May be it is time we realised “we” cannot change, but “I” can.

Let change and betterment emanate from within each of us. We are eager to jump on any opportunity to blame another for our ills, all the while committing different, equally grave wrongs of our own. Let's change that and rid ourselves of all that is wrong first. It may not have noticeable repercussions immediately, but then where has waiting, bashing and hoping gotten us in all these years?
Zafar Zulqurnain Sahi A Lawyer by profession. A Gold Medalist in LLB from Punjab University and has a LLM degree from University of Warwick, UK. He is also a former Member Provincial Assembly of Punjab (2008-2013). He tweets @ZafarSahi (https://twitter.com/ZafarSahi)
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


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