Despite vows of accountability by government, it is difficult to rest content when one sees justice being discriminated in favor of convicted/accused ruling elite at every step of the way to accountability. They travel in Land Cruisers. In prison, they are greeted with relaxed Jail manual. Their healthcare is an immediate and pressing concern of all who fall in loop. Their redress of grievances and petitions are heard at speed Mach Two and granted relief if even covered technically remotely. Due process is stretched to the limit. There seem to be no bar if they choose to engage politically even in jail premises. Some even have been shown consideration, involved in biggest corruption case of the country for reasons, not easily comprehensible.
At polar contrast, conditions outside their world are, grueling, punishing and agonizing. About 50% population suffers from diseases, far graver than what they contract when in prison. The jails for ordinary people, are dreadful sites where they eat substandard food and endure insanitary conditions and inhuman treatment of various kinds at hands of jail authorities. They could contract, not only biological diseases but also contiguous diseases of world of crime because no distinction is made there in categories of inmates. A large number longish due to inability to pay for bail bonds and wait for trials that linger for months/ years. About 1.9 million cases are pending before courts in the country. This is just one side of everyday life in Pakistan nevertheless, amply depicts system of two laws in land out of which all types of injustices germinate in a society. The dictum of might is right blossoms and ultimately rules. The society gets divided into two categories; oppressor and oppressed, rich and poor. In words of Bryan Stevenson, the opposite of poverty is not wealth, it is justice. The justice embodies mechanism to correct what is the inequitable and make people see reason. In its absence, mighty blatantly deny people equal access to opportunity and resources. The wealth and power accumulate in few hands and rest are consigned to abject miseries/poverty. The law catches small flies and let bigwigs to go scot free. Resultantly, an acute sense of bereavement, despondency, helplessness, apathy, detachment and hopelessness creep in and ultimately, seep into the polity. In return, this make the job of oppressors easier to call the shots. The pirates at sea rob few ships but they ransacked whole society.
Since its inception, Pakistan continues to face buffets of discriminatory justice, leaving its landscape pockmarked by impacts of its fallout; corruption, poverty, institutional breakdown, nepotism fissures in moral/social fiber and ascendency of dynastic politics etc. Finally, it led us to present state of stupor where probably no area of national life is left immune from punishing degeneration. In midst of despair and gloom, it was Imran Khan who picked up the fallen standard. Nation saw hope and stood with him to dethrone cable of status quo/loot and plunder. On assumption of office of PM, his reiteration of vow not to let any corrupt off the hook, galvanized spirits of nation further. Regardless of political affiliations, it is an aspiration of people. High spirit of the people is an invaluable asset particularly, when chips are down.
Despite economic hardships being faced due to difficult decisions taken by the government, people still stand with Imran Khan as revealed by survey report of Gallop of Pakistan however, their spirit dips when they see preferential treatment being accorded to convicted/accused bigwigs as of exalted men. Over few days back, country is abuzz with rumors of deal, dheel (concession) and package. The relatively lax response of spokesmen of government to contradict them tended to sow doubts about resolve of the government. These cause anxiety and worry to people who want to see country purged of injustices. These are retrogressive in effect and needs to be guarded against promptly and unambiguously. Tough most recent statement of Imran khan of a big No to deal of any sort is reassuring yet he needs do more than words not to let occur or recur such things which give rise to speculations of NRO of any kind. No preferential treatment except ordinarily authorized under law to crack heads to take accountability seriously.
Besides, he needs to borne in mind that accountability cannot be left entirely to the institutions because they lack capacity as well as have history of joining hands with ruling elite in their unsavory pursuits. They needs to be kept under watch. First it is leader which makes the institutions then they make leaders accountable to law. Nation has paid heavily for hope. Given conditions, it may not be able to pay it again. A nation could only wish away vainly consequence of two system of justice in its polity.
— The writer, retired Lt Col, is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.