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Citizen Voices

The Real Problem With Pakistan’s Justice System Is Ad Hocism

If you follow social media, you must have come across a video of a child from Larkana who cried out loudly after the death of a rooster, which he was holding tightly in his hands. He explained the rooster had died after drinking dirty water. The puddle of stagnant dirty water could be seen all around him. He was blaming the government for the death of his rooster.

The next day, I came across another post on social media where the same child was smiling gleefully, holding a living rooster. The post was from the provincial government handle, saying that the government has heard the child’s plea and helped him timely with appropriate concession as well.

Now, let us consider the horrific rape incident on motorway that happened earlier this month. A woman was raped barbarically over a motorway junction. The story of the incident had gone viral instantly and ensued much hue and cry; and rightly so. Then the story took a twist with a police officer making absurd comments over the incident so that people started discussing the absurd statement more than the crime itself. Long story short, the criminal, even though identified, remains at large. Is the system waiting for another viral story to catch the prime suspect now?

An extremely disappointing trend has taken shape in this land of the pure. That is, to get any semblance of justice you need to get viral. There seems to be no concept of action from institutions, that are charged with deterring crime itself, in the entire scheme of things. Institutions have the responsibility of not only addressing incidents of crime but also of ensuring that the likelihood of such incidents decreases in the future.

Disappointingly, justice in this country is only served when your story echoes among the public, is shared repeatedly over social media and ultimately gets noticed by the political leadership as well. There is no evidence that an ad-hoc, knee jerk reaction of putting criminals behind bars is in any way related with the elimination of crime. It seems as if everyone simply wants to appear good and then to show this over social media so that their vote bank remains intact.

What is the issue with the political elite in this country? All around the world such crimes get institutional responses. What then shifts us, from taking an institutional approach, towards ad hocism? Is it because patronage reigns supreme among Pakistanis, so that anyone who gets any sort of power needs to make a show of it to feel powerful as well? Does it make the ones who are responsible feel more ‘in control’ when they can deal their version of ‘swift and decisive’ justice?

A democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people. The last bit ‘for the people’ is no less sacred than the previous two parts. What a farce is made of the ‘for the people’ part when, for example, the women of the country are advised to keep guns with them to defend themselves, since the institutions cannot be expected to spring into action until a huge public outcry has been made following a terrible incident.

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