Why Raymonds will continue to happen
Pakistan’s ‘izzat’ and ‘ghairat’ came calling once again on the afternoon of 16th March 2011. The chartered aeroplane carrying Raymond Davis had grossly violated the ‘honour space’ of Pakistan. Public sentiments were once again invoked to avenge the fractured ‘national honour’ – a process that successfully camouflages the real reasons behind these unending acts of humiliation. Few were willing to admit that our state, inundated with loans and lackeys, voluntarily and happily discovered the shortest ‘sharai’ path that links Kot Lakhpat with Lahore airport. A dynastic ruling elite with a penchant for lawlessness and a total lack of concern for the well being of ordinary citizens could possibly have not chosen any other course. It may be interesting to examine five other apparently isolated events that happened around the same time. While they did not receive as much public attention, they can well explain why Raymonds will continue to happen in Pakistan.
While Raymond was on-board a flight out of Pakistan, so was the Chief Minister of Punjab, making a brotherly get-well visit to London. Also around the same time, the Head of PML(N) had opted to have a stent inserted into his artery at the elite Central London Hospital. Medical visits to foreign lands are a standard operating procedure for the ruling elite of Pakistan. Hospitals built for ordinary Pakistanis are simply not good enough for them. Instead of improving the local hospitals ( or schools), they prefer to fly out to exotic locations, often utilising funds siphoned from the tax payers’ account. Surprisingly this act of national cheating is not considered an affront by a society where 14000 women die during childbirth every year because they are not attended by a skilled person (leave alone a doctor). Can the interests of poverty-stricken Pakistanis be defended by a ruling elite that has its vital interests deeply embedded in foreign lands? Till this situation is reversed, Raymonds will continue to happen in Pakistan.
Another independent event that took place around the same time as Raymond’s departure was the shocking revelation by the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) that out of 80.2 million votes that chose our ‘honourable’ parliamentarians in 2008, 36 million votes were fake and bogus. That simply means that approximately 45 % members sitting in our parliament have entered through questionable corridors. Add to this another 57 confirmed by Higher Education Commission as fraudulent degree holders and 298 who refuse to submit their degrees for verification and you have an exceptional composition of delinquents who would be happy to abet and partake in every conceivable crime. Has anyone seen street protests or heard fiery Friday sermons demanding a restoration of our ‘national honour’ by replacing these shady characters and reforming our electoral process?
Why should a foreign country respect a Pakistani court, when the Pakistani government itself refrains from doing so. Only four days before Raymond’s expeditious release, the ruling party in a show of defiance and disrespect called for a province wide strike to protest against the Supreme Court verdict annulling the appointment of NAB chairman. The provincial assembly passed a resolution and the education ministry ordered closing down of all schools. A lawless state machinery, at war not just with its people but also with its own institutions is hardly expected to produce results any different from what it did in the Raymond Davis case.
Around the same time as Raymond was sipping coffee on his flight out of Pakistan, The Prime Minister was signing documents to extend the services of the top man in ISI. It is irrational for us to recycle the same dynastic politicians and constantly extend the services of our top bureaucrats, judges and generals and then also feel stunned at getting the same disappointing results. A cartel of fossilised ruling elite dedicated to extending its own life cycle cannot be expected to defend the interests of its common people. Raymonds will thus continue to happen, as long as we continue to tolerate a ruling class that lives beyond its means as well as its warranty period.
The fifth and perhaps the most important event was an act of omission, hugely underplayed and least protested. Raymond Davis was projected as if he was the only foul fish that we had in the country. What about the 500 or so other CIA security contractors who are still engaged in similar dirty tricks? Why did we not demand a collective exodus of these criminals and the accountability of those responsible to facilitate their operations? Surely more of these individuals will display their marksmanship in the days to come, forcing us to replay the precedence of 16th March episode.
While we brood over the fast track dispensation given to a foreigner, we do not seem perturbed about the quality of justice delivered to our own 180 million citizens. We have a judicial system that on one hand can conduct a trial and release a multiple killer in 2 hours. On the other hand it can do nothing about the 8,000 prisoners still languishing in jails, for having been sentenced to death over the past 20 years. We are upset at the indecent haste shown for Raymond, but we have no program to improve our dilapidated judicial processes. Raymonds will therefore continue to happen in Pakistan for as long as we do not address the causes that create Raymonds. Neither the state nor the society seem ready to take on this challenge.
Express Tribune March 2011