A state within a state makes Pakistan lawless

Writer is Indian Army Officer: Priyantha Kumara Diyawadana, a Sri Lankan national was lynched and burnt alive on 03 December 2021 by his own factory workers in Sialkot, Pakistan for alleged blasphemy. This killing has once again brought to the fore the state of lawlessness in Pakistan.

This is not the first time that a person has been killed in broad daylight, and only goes to prove that the assassins are working in cahoots with people responsible for the safety of the citizens. Pakistan’s Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, in his statement, condoned the act as a reaction to the young men being driven by their emotions for their religion.

The problem with law and order in Pakistan is as old as the nation itself. Soon after the partition of India by the British in 1947, riots broke out between the majority and minorities. Instead of trying to put an end to the mayhem, the state machinery joined hands with the majority to ensure that the minority was eliminated or forced to leave the country.

While the ambers of this strife were still festering, the Pakistani military invaded the state of Jammu and Kashmir and used the term ‘Razakar’ for its regulars to feign non-involvement. The propriety that the administration was to implement within the newborn state was disregarded and replaced by imperiousness. To add to the misery of the people, repeated Military takeover by the Pakistani Army ensured that the law of the land never could take roots into the collective conscience of the people. Moreover, attempts by successive governments to create a unique identity wreaked havoc on the social fabric of the country.

The state, since its formation as an Islamic nation, grappled to create a unique identity and define who is a Muslim. The leaders, both elected and military alike, over the last 70 years have used this premise to remain relevant to the population. Acts after acts have been legislated to define who will constitute a Muslim and what actions will tantamount to blasphemy.

This along with various interpretations by the religious leaders has resulted in abhorrence towards the minorities. The political and religious establishment of Pakistan has used religion to keep the masses preoccupied and not question their feudalist agenda proving Karl Marx’s adage that religion is the opium of the people.

It is largely accepted that the ten-year rule of General Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq from 1978 to 1988 triggered the downfall of Pakistan on all counts. This defining period in the history of Pakistan transformed the largely peaceful society into one blatantly inclined to violence. The country since then has only been heading south.

General Zia’s ambition to make Pakistan the leader of the Islamic world changed his outlook towards its constituents. Every trick in the handbook of treachery was used by the General to legitimize his coup and, thereon, became a trademark of his 10-year rule. All entities of the state machinery including financial institutions, education, administration, and the judiciary were manipulated to serve the deceit that the General was serving his people. This was also the period that saw politicising and communalising of the military and paramilitary forces.

This new breed of men in uniform forgot their duty towards the nation and went to great lengths to serve the ideology of their groups. Another wrong attributed squarely to the period was to cultivate and support various terrorist groups, which soon became an intrinsic part of the state machinery for projecting its power in the neighborhood. For a while, the mechanism put in place served the rich and powerful very well. However, soon voices of dissent could be heard from all parts of the country and every section of the society without exception.

The ideas propagated by the conduct of the ruling elite soon found resonance with the public. The society turned lawless as the state was not able to meet with most of its obligations. The government apparatus failed to ensure peaceful atmosphere for individual growth and communal harmony. The agencies responsible weren’t being held accountable as they were impeded by the masters to implement measures across the board, to keep the divide. This resulted in utter disregard for law as it was selectively applied to the less fortunate. The degradation, which started with corruption and bribery, has now reached a level where kidnapping, lynching and shooting have become a norm.

Lawlessness in Pakistan has gathered critical mass and has become self-sustaining. Corruption in the public and private sectors, perversion of rules and procedures, abuse of power, crime including white-collar crime, has had a telling effect on the economy of the country. The hapless have not been left with any recourse but to use illegitimate means.

Some of them are even lured to give up their lives by becoming human bombs and assassins. This has led to further degradation of law and order, and even lesser economic activity to sustain a burgeoning population. The cyclic process thus ensures that there are enough volunteers available to the political, military, and religious establishments to be manipulated for undertaking transgressions.

It is, therefore, not surprising that Pakistan has consistently been ranked as one of the most lawless country in the world. Its efforts to eradicate this stigma remain futile as each of its organs work in cross purpose with the other. Not a day passes without a bomb blast, kidnapping or killing, advertising the state as a haven for all kinds of anti-social elements. The police and common citizens are being targeted alike. Even the Army, which once was considered itself above board, has not been spared.

The unrestricted continuation of militant and criminal violence throughout the country, coupled with low levels of government accountability and exploding population point unambiguously towards prolonged lawlessness in Pakistan.