Ifound a recent headline in Dawn — ‘MPAs raise alarm over breakdown of law and order’ — quite amusing (29.11.08).You may find this sense of humour a bit queer, but don’t we all feel that our parliamentarians, with the exception of a few, are actually part of the problem?I see no irony in the fact that the biggest enemy of ‘the rule of law’ is the VIP culture that we have been nurturing for the last 60 years. ‘Order’ vanishes when the ‘rules’ are applied unequally.We are all aware of the details of what is happening in our lawless environment. Almost everybody has a harrowing tale to tell and what is conspicuously missing is a political will to arrest this situation. We are also aware of the record of LEAs and the criminal justice system, and that it has failed us. But what is scary is that the criminals, even if they are apprehended, are found back on the streets in no time because of their connections. The rumour is that kidnapping and street crime are such big businesses that they cannot be done away with, as they thrive with the backing of some ‘influential people’ who easily manipulate the system. The other peculiar crime pattern that we all witness has a political colour to it. Every change of government brings in their own gangs of racketeers and criminals on the street, who sometimes operate without the knowledge of the landed aristocracy.Many a journalist has declared the VIP culture as one of the main reasons for failure of our present criminal justice system.Karachi is witnessing yet another surge in street crime. Although we have been to this road before, the crime calendar posted in the press or acquired through word of mouth actually terrorises its citizens. There can be two approaches to this mega-menace: one, the long-term solutions of reform and redesign, while the other is short-term solutions of vigilant enforcement. If the present regime is seriously looking for solutions, then both approaches should be mobilised on war footing.
Let us also try some out-of-the-box solutions like forming a think-tank of creative citizens — such as architects, designers, engineers, doctors, psychologists, entrepreneurs and senior citizens — to give their personal time once a week, discussing the evils that afflict our society, and come up with solutions.
Let us start the process of reform which is long overdue. Rekindle a national debate on judicial and police reforms. Reexamine all the deliberations/reports of previous committees. Let us create a new think-tank of retired justices, bureaucrats, police officials and jail wardens and do some serious restructuring and redesigning. Let us also try some out-of-the-box solutions like forming a think-tank of creative citizens — such as architects, designers, engineers, doctors, psychologists, entrepreneurs and senior citizens — to give their personal time once a week, discussing the evils that afflict our society, and come up with solutions.The biggest challenge and the most interesting of all for our think-tanks would be seeking solutions for eliminating the VIP culture. Guess who would resist such a scheme! Recently when a project was undertaken to remove tinted films from automobiles which are against the law, it was abandoned because of an MPA’s resistance to it. Some serious effort and creative out-of-the-box solutions may be required for short-term solutions of law enforcement.The idea is that no one should be above the law. Once someone had offered a bizarre idea of instituting a DDS, a ‘deaf and dumb squad’ for traffic violators, a pair of commandos with 6/6 vision but unable to hear and speak. No verbal arguments or wheeling dealing. No VIP should be able to impress upon the DDS their status or connections. The punishment for violations should be instant, heavy and on-the-spot. If one is unable to pay fines then one after another one’s automobile’s tires are sacrificed.We have to understand that it is not a revolution-in-the-making situation where the proletariats pick up arms to attack its bourgeois. Crime has been institutionalised by the powerful few who have learnt how to beat the system. Yes, the inequalities and injustices in a society breed crime, but our society is far too fragmented, politicised and complicated — there are many other forces that are brutalising it. Therefore curbing crime is as critical as eliminating inequalities that widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots. Drastic times call for drastic measures.Rule of law is the only way to survive and unfortunately that does not take root in our country. The violators of law and the perpetrators of all crime in our society are convinced that they can get away with their crime because of the ineptness of our judicial system. The truth is that a majority of offences and crimes are not reported because justice is hardly available. This is what emboldens the criminals.By Danish Azar Zuby /Daily Dawn Lahore