An aircraft to fly away our daughters
Will there now be another special aircraft to fly away the five year old Sumbal to Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital. How many aircraft will we need to fly away all our daughters because the state can no longer protect them. Even sadder 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 organization that has the mandate to check crime and militancy – our highly politicized, 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 for addressing the issue of crime and militancy.
If the Prime Minister of UK cannot suspend the lowest paid police official, 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 the rule of law.
Fighting crime and violence is significantly different from how a fire brigade department operates. It requires simultaneous and proactive thrust in at least four key areas. First and foremost is to deweaponise all citizens, and that includes Pakistan’s parliament whose members have received 69473 prohibited bore licenses only in the past 5 years. The state must assume full responsibility for protecting life and property of every citizen. No individual, regardless of his rank or status be allowed to possess, carry or display any weapon – licensed or otherwise. It is also naïve to think that the militancy can be curbed without striking down the discretionary Armed Ordinance , cancelling all existing gun licenses and initiating a massive phase-wise weapon withdrawal program.
A state has no chance of nabbing its 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 hindered 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 hugely worsened by government vehicles failing to register with the Registration Department and thus becoming vulnerable for use in criminal activities. Only in Karachi, thousands of vehicles use fake or pretended government and police number plates to indulge in criminal activities, gain access to prohibited areas or escape police checks. Enforcing a program 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. 4000 suspects were arrested within 30 days and some 2000 persons prosecuted within 60 days of the riots. Compare this with 113 cases of rape and 32 cases of gang rape that were reported (70% cases are not) in the first 8 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% 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. UK has been able to successfully bring down 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, standardizing 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 organizations who 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.
The News Sept 2013