The leaning pillars of governance

Pakistan’s governing system is degenerating rapidly and threatens to cave in, because the state’s pillars are leaning the wrong way. Each one is needed to support a democratic society, but none are holding up their share of the weight.

The parliament that is supposed to make laws for the betterment of people has become a place to protect personal interests. Federal and provincial governments have failed to help the masses.

As a result, Pakistan’s superior and higher courts are trying to resolve people’s problems through administrative orders after taking suo moto actions (an authoritative action by a judge without receiving a petition from a party). The judiciary, however, has failed to dispense justice at a reasonable speed. In cases of terrorism, this gave birth to military courts to decide the cases quickly.

Police have failed to counter crimes and terrorism. Now the army and other paramilitary forces are in the urban areas to eradicate terrorist groups. The Army is defending Pakistan on our Eastern and Western borders, but at the same time, it is facing internal challenges like terrorism and disaster management. Next week, 200,000 soldiers will perform duties for the long-awaited national census as well.

Perhaps failed government is not a new thing to Pakistan. Perhaps it happened before once or twice. The difference between then and now is media.

During Gen Ayub and Zia Martial Law, the country was in much the same situation as it is now. But there were journalists like Nisar Osmani, Minhaj Barna, Mazhar Ali Khan and Aziz Siddiqi who always raised their voices and kept struggling to keep the system on track. There were few pens but collectively they were mightier than sword.

Now, there are thousands of pens, cameras, and channels, but journalists too often compromise their professionalism, and therefore cannot make a difference.

There are some living legends of journalism like I A Rehman, Dr Mehdi Hasan, Hussain Naqi, Khaled Ahmad, but news channels don’t give them presence on the screen. Meanwhile plenty of fine journalists are working low-profile just to keep their jobs secure. A number of newspersons have started playing as lobbyists for conflicting political groups.

All the state’s pillars, especially judiciary and media, will have to go back to their intended mission to save the nation and our society. They must watch out for Pakistan. If they continue to turn away from their central role, the structural support will collapse and bring the roof down on all our heads.

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