Pakistan: Moving towards a failing state?

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By Wajid Shamsul Hasan

With my stars under the clouds following cardio-spasm and hospitalisation for ten days earlier this month, notwithstanding the nigh class Medicare under NHS, extensive tests etc-the crux of the advice given to me was to keep away from stress. My dearest Aseefa Bhutto’s message of prayers and good wishes, in her profound concern about my health her advice is ‘don’t worry what’s happening in Pakistan, craziness all day and every day, but we are fighting on’. I was asked to report back to her my progress and to take second opinion in view of my multiple ailments.

I could not really keep away from WhatsApp despite best of advice from friends since recuperating in bed I could not do anything else but to keep engaged in messaging to friends to know what’s happening in Pakistan. I was concerned about the deteriorating health condition of both former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Ex-President Asif Ali Zardari. It seemed government was deliberately letting their health worsen. Thank God, the callous attitude of some of those in power who when told of the apprehensions that the two could die- responded that PTI would be better off minus two main challengers to its authority. Some of them openly ridiculed the seriousness of the ailments.

KARACHI: Oct18 – Children sow flowers on portrait of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto during their 12th death anniversary of Karsaz bombing attack martyred at Yadgar-e- Shuhda as incident occurred on 18 October 2007 in Karachi, it was an attack on a motorcade carrying former Prime Minister Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. The bombing occurred two months before she was assassinated. The bombing resulted in at least 180 deaths and 500 injuries. Most of the dead were members of the Pakistan People’s Party, in provincial capital. O

Then happened the much welcome U-Turn. Prime Minister Khan known for changing stances was seen in a much humane mould. All the previous venom against Nawaz Sharif was forgotten and Khan Sahib offered him sincere best wishes and prayers from the core of his heart for his earliest recovery and good health. Not only that, Mian Sahib was shifted to Services Hospital, allowed a team of best doctors including his own physician to monitor his health. IK’s Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmeen Rasheed -a much more sensible and humane person than his heavy weight adviser on Information ‘Dr’ Firdous Ashiq Awan (unconfirmed information has come to light that besides being a medical practitioner she is also a gold medallist vet’). Just when Mian Sahib’s condition became critical, in two cases he got bail by the Islamabad High Court and now if he wishes, he can travel to London for treatment to his disease that best of doctors in Pakistan could not identity. I hope Marium too would be allowed to travel with her father. Similarly, the other high profile case of Asif Zardari too needs to be disposed off to enable him to have his multiple ailments treated in London or America.

Unfortunately the questionable manner the cases of the two high profile political prisoners were being dealt with has been too frustrating. In this dismal atmosphere when law and order situation in Punjab has become impossible, rape and killing of little children has become the order of the day, came the horrendous news of acquittal of six alleged encounter killers of four innocent civilians in Sahiwal about a year ago. The killers had been video recorded during the act in broad day light.

KARACHI: Oct18 – Chairman of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari addressing during the public gathering in connection with Karsaz incident which was occurred on 18 October 2007 in Karachi, at Mazar-e-Quaid in front of VIP Gate in provincial capital.

Members of CTD as they were, they justified point blank killing on the basis of what they claimed, an intelligence tip off from a premier agency that they were alleged terrorists including the four year old child. On great public hue and cry that spread like wild fire in the country, Prime Minister Imran Khan had promised exemplary punishment to the CTD killers when he was travelling abroad. On the demand of the family, a JIT was also instituted. However, even at the initial stage the sort of stories that were being fed to the media by CTD to shroud evidence against the culprits, family members had conveyed to the authorities that their lives were under threat of killers and they did not expect justice.

Indeed, the news of acquittal of the Sahiwal encounter killers with a clean chit by the ATC has made my blood boil and hiked my blood pressure. There has been a massive euphoria of protest all over the country. Even one of IK’s Advisers Nadeem Afzal Chan has come on record to express that he feels that justice was not done in the case and killers were scrumptiously acquitted by ATC. I am wondering what is happening in Pakistan, why life is being rendered into short, brutish and nasty- are we slipping into status of much feared failed state?

With disappointment writ large, frustration and such deplorable decisions drowning our judicial system in an abysmal depth of degradation, it also shagged into action Prime Minister Khan who too has been shocked by it and asked Punjab Chief Minister Buzdar to file an appeal in the higher court challenging ATC judgement. I hope review appeal is filed in time and in an effective manner notwithstanding the pressure of the powerful backers of the killers. Khan should follow the course of appeal himself and ensure that the services of best lawyers are employed to get justice to the poor aggrieved family that lost four of its members to brutal killing. Indeed, doubts are being expressed because of the backing of premier intelligence apparatus to the killers. People at large doubt whether justice would be fairly and squarely dispensed when in a similar case senior SP Rao Anwar of Sindh police remains free despite credible evidence of his direct involvement in the killing of Pashtoon young man Naqeebullah Mehsood.

Recently I read a news item from Bangladesh that the court sentenced to death 16 persons involved in the burning alive of a young girl student who had accused her principal of molesting her. When she refused to withdraw her complaint the 16 culprits tied her and torched her to death. Prime Minister Haseena Wazid under popular pressure saw to it that the culprits are punished exemplarily to set an example for all times. Prime Minister Imran Khan can learn a lesson from her and restore supremacy of law by hanging the Sahiwal killers.

I need to follow the advice by friends to keep away from WhatsApp warriors waging war against the system, against each other and to give stress free peace to my mind. Before I conclude a word or two in praise of British NHS, London Ambulance service, their doctors and professionally sound and caring nurses. I hope all the stories about the possibility of NHS being sold out to American entrepreneurs are baseless and the good old NHS would continue to serve the needy as selflessly as possible as a best tribute to its founder Welsh MP Aneurin Bevin.

(The writer is a veteran journalist and former High Commissioner of Pakistan to UK.)