Rule Of law

In a society devoid of any respect for the principles of equality, human dignity and equal rights for all, where articles of the constitution are flouted and where there is inherent discrimination on the basis of class, caste, faith and sect, how could we have rule of law. Where there is no social justice, there can be no rule of law.
Even if laws do not always favour the rich and the mighty, their dispensation does. If the tussle is between the wealthy and the poor, the wealthy will win. If it happens to be between the rich and the rich, the one who has got the institutions of the Pakistani state establishment, at any level, on his side will prevail. This can happen in a police station, a debriefing cell, a lawyer’s chamber, a court of law, a government office or even on the streets if powers that be decide to whip up emotions in a segment of society and fund and facilitate the rallies.
Mind you, the media is making the urban middleclass forget that courts of law are not limited to the high courts and the Supreme Court. There are hundreds of courts functioning across Pakistan whose proceedings, nature of cases, statements of witnesses, arguments of lawyers, remarks by the judges and, finally, the judgements are neither reported nor followed up. Exceptions are few and far between. There is little difference observed in these courts even in this age of ‘rule of law’.
Nevertheless, who would support corruption and speak against the rule of law? But neither could we abolish corruption nor establish the rule of law unless the chronic structural issues faced by the Pakistani state are not fixed. These issues are perpetuated by the remnants of a feudal class, big businesses aided by affluent middleclass professionals largely belonging to central Punjab and Karachi, post-colonial bureaucracy and omnipresent military. Only if this precondition of fixing the structural issues is understood and the link is established in the minds of those who clamour for abolishing corruption and establishing the rule of law, they can succeed.
The fundamental problems of class discrimination and redistribution of wealth, identity and ethnicity, women’s rights and exclusion of minorities can only be resolved by an uninterrupted political process, free and fair elections, supremacy of parliament and progressive legislation in the federation as well as in provinces. It does require a self-aware and conscious electorate. But this awareness also evolves with the process.
Undoubtedly, Pakistan still is a plutocracy – a democracy of the rich. But it is changing and can only turn into a people’s democracy through a democratic process, not by a whiplash, a stroke of the pen or instituting a technocratic government. This seems a long haul. But there are no shortcuts in history.
Today, the incumbent government is accused of mammoth corruption by its adversaries. Interestingly, by those who were themselves responsible for the cooperatives scam which impoverished the already poor, bank defaults, the freezing of foreign currency accounts which badly affected foreign remittances, patronage and kickbacks, etc. The selectivity of higher courts works in their favour.
If the government is ousted, will the four million civil servants start functioning honestly? Will the rich start paying taxes? Will the generals and top bureaucrats relinquish their undeserved privileges? Out of 8041 beneficiaries of the NRO, only a handful are politicians. The overwhelming majority is of bureaucrats followed by businessmen. I reiterate: Nothing will change if the structural issues are not addressed. The only way to do that in the present time and age is continuing with the democratic process.