Pakistan: failed state?

The lawyers’ attack on the Punjab Institute of Cardiology was shocking, but more shocking is the fact that it is being defended by some top legal minds in the country. Should we be surprised? Remember how the killer of Punjab’s Governor Salman Taseer was garlanded by lawyers who thought he had done the right thing? Have we forgotten how, over the past few years, lawyers have increasingly become violent?  They have launched attacks on many occasions. They have attacked judges, women and others, and such incidents were ignored. So why should we be shocked now?

What it proves is that Pakistan is on its way to becoming a failed state, if it isn’t one already. Where else but in a failed state would a terrified, cowering female assistant commissioner be subjected to a verbal attack by a wild-eyed bearded fanatic, who knows he will never be punished for it? Where else but in a failed state would it be assumed that the seizure of a property tycoon’s assets by the UK’s National Crime Agency is a perfectly normal thing, and there is no need to even ask the property tycoon where and how he got the money to buy his foreign properties?

Where else but in that same failed state would that same property tycoon launch a housing scheme in Peshawer without getting a no-objection certificate from the relevant department? And where else would powerful quarters compel that same department to withdraw its notice shortly after it had been issued? Mind you, the property tycoon (who cannot be named) has yet to start paying the fine and penalty of Rs460 billion imposed by the apex court, yet instead of learning a lesson, he thinks nothing of breaking the rules again. Would this kind of thing be tolerated in a civilized country?

Where else but in a failed state would a politician on a container urge his followers to indulge in the same kind of vandalism we saw in Lahore? So why should we be surprised that his nephew was among those who threw stones and set vehicles on fire?

Just think of the audacity of the lawyer who warned the media for their “one-sided coverage”, and his threat to bar media personnel from the Islamabad High Court, asking judges to encourage the strike by lawyers!

If, instead of having a one-point agenda of targeting its political opponents, the Dear Leader had concentrated on improving governance, this shameful incident would never have happened. If his government had asked the ex-police chief to improve the working of his force instead of demanding that he arrest those opposing the government on false charges, this incident could have been avoided. The lawyers could have been stopped by the police at any point in their five kilometer long march to the hospital. The police could have sent reinforcements to the hospital long before the lawyers reached the place. But no, like the Great Khan’s inefficient and incompetent ministers, the cops were mere bystanders while the mayhem was taking place.

Having seen what has happened countless times, we can safely predict will happen now. Lawyers and doctors will reach a compromise, shake hands, offer of sweets by one to the other will take place, and the whole affair will be forgotten, until the eruption of the next incident causing more lives to be lost. And then we will wonder how and why it happened.
But those sick ones who were physically attacked, and those who lost their loved ones, their lives have been changed forever, whether or not those responsible for the violence are made to pay for this crime. Yes, it was a heinous crime to attack the hospital, whatever the lawyers say, and they should be made to pay for it, and the sooner this is done, the better it will be for the country. Unless of course we are comfortable with the fact that every time such an incident occurs, we are nearer to being a failed state.
The writer is an engineer, a former visiting lecturer at NED Engineering College