The number of times a breaking news item screaming the words, ‘taken notice’ has flashed across news channels in the year 2013 has set forth a new trend in Pakistan’s politics. With the notices far outnumbering the 365 days of the year, the Sindh government has undoubtedly set a new precedent for future law makers.
Be it targeted killings, bomb blasts, rape cases, kidnappings, corruption charges, load-shedding or even traffic congestion, taking ‘notice’ of the incident was the fashion statement issued by governor and chief minister. Ironically, not one of these notices had any effect on the plight of the victims and failed to provide any form of justice to those affected.
The victims, for their part, claim that the ‘notices’ were taken solely for the purpose of media publicity. “Around 93 minor and major bomb blasts have occurred in Karachi during the year 2013. More than 124 people were killed and another 773 injured,” reported senior lawyer and former Sindh advocate general Yousaf Leghari. “The notices on these incidents were issued by the spokespersons of the CM and the Governor’s offices within minutes of each incident. They, however, served no purpose as they produced no results.”
The uselessness of the ‘notices’ may be observed in the fact that, despite announcing compensation for the families of victims who fell prey to targeted killings or even the police personnel who lost their lives in the line of duty, the dependants have not received any form of justice. An inquiry by The Express Tribune revealed that most of these ‘notices’ failed to even reach the relevant departments for action.
A little less than the number of notices is the number of inquiries ordered on many incidents. The reports on these inquiries, however, never see the light of day.
For their part, the Governor House claims that the ‘notices’ were not just meant for the ‘tickers’ on TV channels, but the cases were followed-up on to provide relief to the victims. “We review the cases and keep in contact with the relevant officials and the aggrieved people till the issue is resolved,” the Governor House spokesperson told The Express Tribune. “The Governor has summoned the managing director of KESC following complaints of excessive load-shedding. He also took action against doctors and teachers showing negligence towards their duties at public institutions,” he added. “The Governor provided a sum of Rs50 million each as financial assistance to the ailing pop singer, Alamgir, and actor, Safirullah Siddiqui alias Lehri,” he clarified, citing examples of the action taking following the ‘notice’.
For crimes of a more grave nature, the authorities even went a step further by taking ‘serious notice’ of the incidents. These included targeted killings of political and religious leaders as well as cases of gang rape. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, 3,042 people have been killed in Karachi in the last eleven months. Around 2,263 of these were targeted killings while 264 were politically motivated murders. Moreover, 30 cases of rape were also reported. “In my 10-year career, I have seen higher authorities taking notice of a number rape cases,” related Sara Zaman, a board member of ‘War Against Rape’. “Only one of the victims, a young girl of Ghotki, was given a small amount in compensation. She was not given justice, however, as the suspects are still at large,” she lamented. Zaman was of the opinion that everyone, from a police official to a bureaucrat, knew that the ‘notices’ were a mere formality and did not bother much about them.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the CM House claimed to have a long list of progress reports on the notices taken by chief minister.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 1st, 2014.
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