An Aircraft For Our Daughters

How many aircraft will we need to fly away all our daughters because the state can no longer protect them? More sad is the fact that there appears to be no urgency or inclination to create a robust and proactive system that could prevent a Malala being shot or a Sumbal being raped.
Pakistan ought to take many radical steps if it intends to take a U-turn on its existing suicidal track. Must the first step of this 4000 mile-long journey not begin by reforming and empowering the organisation that has the mandate to check crime and militancy – our highly politicised, unprofessional, under-trained and out-dated police force? Certainly not an easy undertaking for a force historically conditioned to comply with political wishes instead of laws and procedures. Reversing this order is the first prerequisite to address the issue of crime and militancy.
If the prime minister of the UK cannot suspend the lowest paid police official there, how come every senior police official in Pakistan is only a political phone call away from being suspended or transferred? When SP Samiullah Soomro stopped an MPA from entering the Balochistan Assembly along with a battalion of armed goons, he was suspended. Had the government promoted the SP and put the MPA behind bars, it would have once and for all clarified its stand between militancy and rule of law.
Fighting crime and violence is significantly different from how a fire brigade department operates. It requires simultaneous and proactive thrusts in at least four key areas. The first is to deweaponise all citizens. That includes Pakistan’s parliament whose members have received 69,473 prohibited bore licences only in the past five years. The state must assume full responsibility for protecting the life and property of every citizen. No individual, regardless of his rank or status, should be allowed to possess, carry or display any weapon – licenceed or otherwise.
It is also naïve to think that the militancy can be curbed without striking down the discretionary Arms Ordinance, cancelling all existing gun licences and initiating a massive phase-wise weapons withdrawal programme.
A state has no chance of nabbing rapists or killers if it cannot detect thousands of huge vehicles with conspicuously fake number plates – a feat manageable by a half-blind person from a few hundered yards. Home to 2.3 million smuggled, unregistered, stolen, tax-evading and fake number-plated vehicles, the state has failed to see the inextricable link between crime and illegal vehicles.
The situation is worsened by government vehicles failing to register and thus becoming vulnerable for use in criminal activities. Only in Karachi, thousands of vehicles use fake government and police number plates to indulge in criminal activities, gain access to prohibited areas or escape police checks. Enforcing a programme to check all unlawful vehicles must be the next step in our fight against crime and militancy.
Nothing promotes the growth of crime and militancy better than a bankrupt criminal justice system. The courts in UK played a key role in stopping the 2011 street riots from spreading further by delivering swift and firm justice. Four thousand suspects were arrested within 30 days and some 2,000 persons prosecuted within 60 days of the riots. Compare this with the 113 cases of rape and 32 cases of gang rape that were reported (70 percent cases are not) in the first eight months of this year in Karachi. One is yet to see a single conviction.
Our reluctance to reform a judicial system that convicts less than 10 percent rapists, acid throwers and murderers is simply incredible. Is it because it protects and enables the rich and the powerful Shahrukh Jatois to get away with murder? A commission composed of judges, lawyers, police and citizens could be appointed to propose radical reforms in the justice system. A state not interested in reforming such a dilapidated judicial system is surely not serious about fighting crime and violence.
The fourth critical component of fighting crime and terrorism is the use of a series of integrated surveillance tools. The UK has been able to successfully reduce its crime rate by establishing at least four significant monitoring systems. Installing 1.8 million CCTV cameras (one for every 32 persons), tapping of ‘Oyster’ cards for all modes of transport, standardising car number plates, adopting an ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) system, controlling cell phones and SIMs and creating a series of computer databases to systematically record data for each of these activities. What is stopping Pakistan from rapidly adopting these technologies?
Pakistan can be changed rapidly and radically. The government, however, has neither the will nor the capacity to cross this bridge. Individuals and organisations that do have the ability and the resources need to step forward. This may well be the last time they have an opportunity to do so.