In developing societies, rule of law is often defeated at the altar of discretion and personal whims. However, governance, peace, investment and development are linked to the extent of the rule of law in a society. Where the rule of law exists, the government and its officials are responsible. It must be ensured that no single organ of the State becomes omnipotent.
Simple legislation is not enough. Public consent strengthens rule of law. Laws that are not synchronized with social and cultural values result in low acceptance. Awareness of the law not only empowers, but also improves the application. In the developing world, the public tends to narrowly interpret rule of law. In Pakistan, there is abundant evidence of how the law is bent or broken, with the result that society suffers. The misappropriation of public funds, the sale of fake medicines, the issuance of false diplomas, the non-payment of taxes and loans are just a few examples of anarchy in Pakistan. Although we are a country hungry for energy, theft of electricity and gas is considered a normal practice. For example, illegal gas connections in Karak district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa have reached alarming levels. The district is said to be a failing Rs.210m.
The easy availability of weapons and explosives is another serious problem that seriously affects peace in the country. According to one estimate, 20 million illegal weapons pose a serious threat to national security. However, defusing based on zero tolerance can pay dividends. One of the survey findings in the area of the general population expanded and justice in 2017 presented some results of two World Justice Project surveys in five urban areas of Pakistan between August and December 2017, general study of the population was carried out through face-to-face interviews with 2010 households distributed proportionally in five urban areas Faisalabad, Karachi, Lahore, Quetta and Peshawar. These reports address issues of accountability, corruption, fundamental freedom, criminal justice and civil justice as well as views on women, internally displaced persons and refugees.
There is a strong perception of impunity in Pakistan, although the perception of government responsibility varies from city to city. The Lahore respondents are the most optimistic about the responsibility of the government. Pakistanis believe that a significant number of authorities are involved in corrupt practices. They consider the police the most corrupt while the judges and magistrates are considered the least corrupt. Corruption is rampant in Pakistan, more than half of the Pakistanis have paid for a pot of wine to get help from the police and a quarter borrowed a pot of wine for the treatment of a government permit. Since 2013, there has been a general decrease in bribes paid to a police officer to try a government permit and medical treatment in a public hospital. Pakistanis have moderate views on political liberties and media in the country, and very positive views on religious freedom. Since 2016, the perception of political, media and religious freedoms in the country has improved.
Crime rates in Pakistan vary depending on the type of crime and the city. The rate of armed robbery was highest in Karachi, robbery rates are highest in Peshawar and homicide rates vary between 1% and 3% in the five cities. On average, there has been a decrease in the three crime rates since 2017.
Incompetence criminal investigators were cited as the most serious problem facing criminal investigation departments in Pakistan while insufficient resources were cited as their most serious problem in criminal courts. Perceptions of police corruption and respect for the rights of suspects have improved in recent years.Pakistanis have moderate legal knowledge. The highest percentage of people in Pakistan is unable to correctly answer questions about the legal rights of children.
Women in Pakistani society are suffering from ages. There are minor differences in men’s and women’s views on women’s rights in divorce and conflict resolution, but the perception gap is increasing for women’s issues like inheritance and family dynamics. Refugees in Pakistan should enjoy the same constitutional rights as Pakistani citizens. But people of Pakistan think that refugees bringing violence and extremism to Pakistan were a serious problem. Pakistanis have a high degree of trust in their fellow citizens. In all institutions, Pakistanis have the most confidence in the courts and the slightest trust in the police, even though confidence in the police has increased steadily over the past four years.
The constitution of a country is a living and dynamic document that determines the future direction of the nation, provided that the document that represents the rule of law is respected. In a country where only one person is authorized (by a self-proclaimed decree or by a private authority within the jurisdiction of the law) to change the supreme law of the land, there can be no democracy or constitution. One wonders what the Quaid-i-Azam would have felt, that it was for the rule of law throughout his life, and that he struggled to achieve an independent country for Muslims in a constitutional manner, and said that Pakistan today?
The writer is an advocate of High Court Islamabad.