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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

The lost writ of the State of Pakistan

According to Faisal Zaman, the reason is that the interests of the people of Pakistan are in direct conflict with the interests of the State. Most civil unrests around the globe stem from this disharmony between the subjects and the State. Therefore a careful and honest introspection is required to find a viable solution.

‘Two wrongs do not make one right. But multiple wrongs make a system’. Pakistan has become a State that is most threatened by the populace that dwells within. The reason is that the interests of the people of Pakistan are in direct conflict with the interests of the State. Most civil unrests around the globe stem from this disharmony between the subjects and the State. Therefore a careful and honest introspection is required to find a viable solution.

And that is our first basic societal flaw – we have an alarming degree of trust deficit that disallows any harmony to permeate our national affairs. Most affected by this deficit is the relationship between the government and the governed.

Read more: The choked filters of the State of Pakistan

This debilitating disconnect is mutual and growing

With people who demand rights but forget about their obligations, agitation is the best route. We have traders going for shutter-downs whenever they are asked to document their incomes and pay taxes. Doctors close OPDs to agitate against any scheme that would improve the functioning of hospitals. Teachers take to the streets whenever their credentials are being probed. Power consumers protest against load shedding even when there is rampant power theft in their area. Lawyers call a strike at the slightest provocation. Journalists decry laws that aim to protect the name and repute of citizens. Self-proclaimed religious outfits wreak havoc whenever their demands, howsoever unreasonable, are not met. This is a sad reality we have witnessed on too many occasions.

Over the decades the State apparatus has been weakened to such an extent that any group can easily challenge it resulting in its embarrassing capitulation. A regressive but potent mob mentality has reduced the state authority to naught.

Read more: State Bank of Pakistan to remain closed on Thursday

And how does the State respond while abuses circulate freely? Well, the best solution is considered to be engaging and negotiating with the protesters. This policy of appeasement has not worked. And while doing so the state does not solve anything. It merely gains time to fight for another day. On the other hand, the aggressors gain confidence. There is strength in numbers and that is the best formula to bring the State to its knees, which has become the sacred mantra.

This has continued for a long and will continue for a long

The writ of the State of Pakistan is an imaginary power best suited for Disney’s musical fantasies. It has no relevance or reverence in Pakistan. Every day, the writ of State is challenged at the table of a public servant or trampled by an advancing mob.

The law enforcers and lawbreakers, the custodians of law and the notorious impeachers all indulge in decimating the integrity of our State’s frail writ. With the writ of State fighting to survive, it becomes quite unreasonable for one to expect that it will suddenly appear as a profoundly powerful force that will make things right. We have strengthened the Goliath at the expense of David.

The writ of our State has been rendered toothless. It has been denuded time and again to reveal its starved will and suffering existence. This situation is welcomed by many from outside the government as well as those within.

The establishment, in its entirety, benefits from this colossal breakdown of State power. There is no real intent to restore the balance. People argue that a State that is unable or unwilling to provide for its sustenance, security, health and welfare is presumed dead. And that is how the writ of our State is treated.

Read more: Pakistan: The incredible state

The State machinery that was obligated to maintain the writ of the State is in complete shambles and relies mostly on negotiated settlements sans any lasting workable solutions. Stop-gap and ad-hoc arrangements lacquered with bureaucratic apathy are advertised as successful outcomes followed by loud applauses meant to drown any cry of truth. They have forgotten that negotiations in matters where State is involved, in order to succeed must be managed from a position of authority with clearly defined red lines.

The result is manifested by the State of Pakistan

Here, apart from the hollow rhetoric, the State wears an apologetic look while entering into negotiations. Most often the red lines are erased before the talks begin. Fear, suspicion, unwillingness, confusion, lack of cohesion among the pillars of the State, compound the malaise.

We have failed to enforce the Constitution, a document most quoted and least implemented. Many among us, especially the Establishment including the bureaucracy, are impervious to the constitutional mandate. They just do not care. In fact, they think it is not even worth reading. Too long and carries a lot of law for their liking. Ordinary mortals have no use of it as our Constitution speaks about rights with corresponding duties, a phenomenon alien to our national being.

Read more: Was Quaid-e-Azam’s Pakistan meant to be a secular state?

In the context of present crises that is yet another attempt to tarnish our image and challenge our otherwise tumbling State writ, let me conclude by quoting Article 5 of our Constitution that prescribes that loyalty to the State is the basic duty of every citizen. This Article further reads that obedience to the Constitution is the inviolable obligation of every citizen. Article 256 bans private militia and our law makes it an actionable offense.


Faisal Zaman is a lawyer with more than 25 years of professional experience. He writes regularly on legal, social and political issues. He has also worked with the apex regulator of the corporate world and has acquired intrinsic knowledge about core corporate issues as well the working of a federal institution.

His legal practice involves transactional & contractual drafting, mediation, advisory and research assignments within one or multiple jurisdictions. He can be contacted at faisalzamanadv@gmail.com. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.