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Lawlessness in Pakistan

As the new war in neighboring Afghanistan unfolds, Pakistanis are watching it with the fears of unknown. While only 40% support President Musharraf's decision to support American war on its neighbor, most are quite worried about war's effects on Pakistan.

Even though the government has deployed troops and armoured cars in cities across Pakistan to deal with protest and the possibility of terrorism, the ordinary citizens know it has never been enough to curb the violence in Pakistan.

Violence, riot, and terrorism have become a part of South Asian landscape in the recent past. Some of these acts of violence are rooted in sectarian conflicts, such as the Sunni-Shia fights. Literally thousands of lives have been wasted in such trivial 'causes' in Pakistan.

Another source of terror in Pakistan is the political strife and rallies, which very often revolves around the ethnic biases. The ongoing killings in Karachi is an example of this form of conflict.

Assassinations and terrorism in Pakistan has taken away the lives of several intellectuals, leaders, and religious personalities, such as Prof. Hakim Saeed, Salahuddin Saeed (the editor of Takbeer magazine), Maulana Yusuf Ludhianwi, Gen. Zia-ul-Haq.

What is even more sad and disturbing is the fact that the culprits of none of these brutal murders have ever been identified. How strange and ironic it is that we take pride in being one of the most powerful Muslim countries in the world, due to our nuclear technology, yet we are a nation paralysed by the utter lawlessness.

Very often we blame either the police for its incompetence or the fanatics, fuelled by religious fervour, for their intolerant behaviour. However, rarely do we address the most fundamental questions: Where do these protestors, terrorists, or political activists get hold of the weapons? Why are these terrorists so confident in their crime? Why is there no accountability?

Even though the answers to these questions may be simple, their practical implications are probably not. The root cause of it all is three fold:

  1. General corruption and lawlessness---i.e. lack of accountability at the level of police and other law enforcement organisations.
  2. Availability of illegal Arms to the masses--- the fact that in some cities the terrorists have better weapons than the police itself!
  3. Lack of training and proper pay scales for law enforcement personnel

It is highly likely that just like the Afghan Jihad against the Soviet Union occupation when some arms were sold to Pakistani criminals there may be those who will sell American arms for Northern Alliance to Pakistani criminals and sectarian militias.

In the wake of this new Afghan war, the Pakistani government should begin the reformation of Pakistan's internal security apparatus. It is now time for the government to:

  1. equip its law-enforcement agents, such as police, with more sophisticated arms. They should be at least as armed as criminals if not better;
  2. provide professional training to the police;
  3. raise the salaries and the living and work conditions of police officers;
  4. block the supply of illegal weapons from foreign countries, such Afghanistan, Iran, and India;
  5. educate the citizens on becoming partners in the law and order for a better and safer Pakistan; and
  6. introduce an efficient accountability process in the police department.

With the latest influx of Afghan refugees, an immense load of weapons must have also entered Pakistan. Before an internal war begins within Pakistan, it is imperative for government to make the move with the above mentioned suggestions.

Date/Time Last Modified: 6/17/2002 3:36:58 PM

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