July Issue 2010

By | Editorial | Opinion | Published 14 years ago

The federal Law Minister, Mr Babar Awan, has been doing the rounds of bar associations, doling out hefty sums to lawyers from the public exchequer.

It’s perfectly legit, he says.

And highly shameful, too, Mr Awan. Especially when newspapers are reporting on the suicides taking place every day: entire families are swallowing or injecting poison to escape from the clutches of poverty.

Wouldn’t it have been more appropriate to provide for the poor rather than filling the coffers of the bars? Unless Mr Awan is hoping to reap the windfall in the near future as is being alleged.

This government is its own worst enemy. Despite all the flak being thrown its way, it continues to proceed in the same cavalier fashion.

When Jamshed Dasti was disqualified as an MNA on charges of turning in a fake degree in the 2008 elections, the PPP decided to reinstal him by giving him another ticket in the Muzaffargarh by-election, now that the degree stipulation has been struck down.

Dishonesty is fast becoming a virtue that has to be nurtured and rewarded by the PPP. So what does Mr Dasti proceed do next? He threatens that symbol of dignity and courage, Mukhtaran Mai, with serious consequences if she does not withdraw her case against the men of the Mastoi tribe, ostensibly his cronies, who gang-raped her. Earlier, Dasti had beaten up doctors at a hospital in Lahore, allegedly for not attending to a patient promptly.

Power is becoming a dangerous tool in the hands of those in the corridors of power.

In a recent incident, Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza had a well-known architect roughed up and thrown into prison for a day — for daring to object to the massive roadblocks in front of his house, inconveniencing neighbours and motorists.

If PPP ministers are a law unto themselves, one shouldn’t be surprised if lawlessness stalks the country.

Karachi is a classic example of the lawlessness that prevails in this country. Every day, two, three, four or more men are gunned down by people on scooters or in cars, who then vanish into thin air. The security personnel are rarely able to catch them. And even if these assassins are ever caught, they are acquitted by the courts or helped to get away by poor security or their nexus with security officials. Why were the four Jundullah men, alleged to be involved in the Moharram blasts, being escorted only by two constables for a hearing at the City Courts? How did they manage to have mobiles on them? Further, the City Courts have just one exit, so why weren’t any additional security officers stationed there? Questions — more questions.

When you look at the security cavalcade accompanying every minister, comprising several cars and dozens of policemen, you’ll probably find the answer there.

It’s an awami government, so to speak, but the awam is the last on its list of priorities.

Rehana Hakim is one of the core team of journalists that helped start Newsline. She has been the editor-in-chief since 1996.