Unsilencing the majority

Published: July 21, 2015
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How easy is it to evade the criminal justice system by pulling a few strings?

Much to our dismay, this question would not trigger a lengthy debate or an animated discussion in Pakistan. Everyone knows the answer to it. Even a dispassionate observer would admit that political and economic power trumps the desire for social justice.

Although this reality has been firmly embedded into the system, we have been given innumerable opportunities to peel away the false exterior and re-evaluate the status quo.

Unfortunately, these chances have been frittered away because we are reluctant to overcome a tradition of silence and fight for our rights.

Recently, a land-owner based in Dadu, thrashed four journalists who reported on the illegal felling of trees by his men. Police have refused to file an FIR as the culprit has allegedly been protected by his connections in the Sindh government.

At this critical juncture, the journalists have threatened to self-immolate if a case is not filed.

Such incidents are rampant in a society plagued by corruption and mismanagement. Many people have been shortchanged in their pursuit for justice because their perpetrators have either lined the pockets of law-enforcement agencies or used political influences to get out of tight spots.

It wouldn’t be fair to entirely pin the blame on communal silence or the unwillingness to bring change. Most people who are deceived by an unfair system are usually victims of circumstance. Stripped of their options, they can only find solace in silence.

This narrative of victimhood has not appealed to journalists in Dadu. Driven by the instinct for self-preservation, they have decided to take to the streets to prove that money or power is not the only language that can make the system tick. Justice cannot be pawned away so easily and their firm resolve to uphold this truth offers a clear testament of courage.

However, as we wait to see the braver moments of this fight, there are many other voices that have been suppressed. It is this silent majority that needs to speak out and demand justice. Only then can the flaws in the system be rectified.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2015. 

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