Privilege of the powerful

The concept of privilege in our religion is more than crystal clear. Any privilege makes you more answerable and more punishable for any breach of normal laws

privilege powerful

Strictly speaking in Islam, the Quran says that people will be questioned and judged on the day of judgment in accordance with the privilege they had in terms of their worldly position and power in society. Privilege of the powerful cannot go unchecked.

Practically wherever, in whatever capacity, you are responsible for the rights and wellbeing of the people in any position of authority.

Islam and the concept of privilege

The concept of privilege in our religion is more than crystal clear. Any privilege makes you more answerable and more punishable for any breach of normal laws. There is no privilege in Islam to anyone on the basis of his position to shy away from the process of accountability.

On the contrary, accountability is to be more strict and transparent for public office holders, and the privileged. The Quran says that oh the wives of the prophet, you have to be higher in all good deeds than other women, you will have double the punishment for any omissions, this is the price of privilege.

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Somewhere in our history, the concept of privilege changed or was changed, and reversed by the powerful. The concept of privilege was that people of authority will be more transparent, the people had a privilege to see through their lives and actions and hold them accountable, there could be no veils and walls around them to allow them to hide behind, to avoid accountability for their actions and no escape for any misadventures.

Power provides impunity in Pakistan

This right was robbed from the people and on the contrary, layers of protection were created around them to let them hide their misdeeds. They could now take refuge behind “privileges” on account of the offices, titles, positions and authority they enjoyed, which lead to the crime of usurping the rights of people in the first place.

This vicious cycle could not be broken by the common people, those who are actually robbed. The stage was thus set for more perfect robberies with no threats to the robbers. This robbery is against human liberty.

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The social dimension is that such societies deteriorate and degenerate, never to be able to progress and compete with their contemporaries.

People get opportunities to do good work. Most of the time for their own benefit, sometimes for others and occasionally really commendable work which may have a much bigger social, economic impact on a larger scale.

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The last category of opportunities present to practically all holders of public offices, obviously as their actions affect the lives of thousands and millions of people. If they seize these opportunities, they become immortal in the records of human history.

Oblivion and often blame is the destiny of those who fail to respond, oblivion being a more merciful destiny than a permanent remembrance as corrupt, incompetent, or cruel inhuman abusers of the public offices they once held.

Very proudly, enjoying the self or system conferred “privileges”, which in reality are, a shear abuse of authority or power vested in their positions for protecting the people they were responsible for while holding the public office. The privileged, hence, also become the all powerful.

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Nature provides opportunities to people time and again to people to undo their wrongs.

Self-accountability of the courts: A lost opportunity

One such opportunity has come the way of the judges of the superior judiciary of Pakistan. The occasion is the hearing against a fellow judge for assets in excess of resources. This is the biggest enemy of humanity in developing countries. They have an opportunity to become immortal in judicial history as well as in the eyes of the Lord.

They have in their power and capacity to deal with it strictly in terms of any normal case. The judge in question should have resigned and offered himself for interrogation on day one. The judges hearing the proceedings should leave aside all bias and expect the holder of the sacred public office to be more accountable than the public.

 

The benefit of the doubt even should not go to the defendant. This perhaps will set the stage for hopefully some real justice in our country ultimately.

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This could be the iconic beginning of a culture devoid of privileges of the members of parliament, ministers, Heads of state, and so on and so forth. I wish people who have “Justice” as an integral part of their names, even after they leave this world, make people believe in and revere the principles of justice.

This may one day lead to people in power realizing that what they think is absolutely legal is not only illegal but actually Haram. Privilege of the powerful needs to be curtailed.

Kanwar Dilshad, former Secretary to the Election Commission of Pakistan, worked in the constitutional institution for over 30 years. He is currently the chairperson for the National Democratic Foundation; the foundation’s work is to grow and strengthen democracy in Pakistan. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.

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