Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Pakistan: Live at Your Own Risk!

[Cost: Lives of 45 citizens of Pakistan. Lesson Learned: Fokkers grounded for passengers services. Outcome: No one is responsible!]

This time the temptation is irresistible. Long ago perhaps 15 years back I happened to go along with some kids to an entertainment park in Lahore. We bought tickets to enjoy rides, etc, inside the park. The back of the tickets read as: Ride at your own risk. I was staggered: are not the people running this business responsible for any mishap? I decided to write on this way of avoiding/evading responsibility, and thought we had accepted this way of behaving as moral and normal. The stream of thought also suggested that it is just like living in Pakistan at one’s own risk. I took care of one of the tickets and have still this ticket safe with me as I keep my National Identity Card.

But as happens with almost all of us, I forgot it, or ignored it thinking that what if I write something on it or doubting it will make any difference. We all forget or ignore or overlook many things like that. Out of many reasons for this behavior the most cogent one is that we lack a culture of complaint, or say we do not bother about our rights or freedoms for fear of inviting trouble. Not that we have no time, not that we are coward, not that we are accustomed to injustices, insults, etc; but for the reason that the culture of complaint have entirely been destroyed in our society. You go for a complaint and you are snubbed, you are insulted, treated like a criminal. Better leave this business and stay away at home and live there until the moment you are caught in a trouble! Hats off to those who still go for the complaint!

But this time in the wake of the Fokker crash writing on this way of irresponsibility is irresistible. The latest news in this regard is that the Federal Cabinet has decided to ground remaining Fokker planes for the passengers, while the Chairman PIA (Pakistan International Airlines) was insistent that they will not be grounded. All this shows that we do not follow any rules, schedules, etc, and learn only when we suffer losses. But of course this loss is not at our cost, it is at the cost of others. Let other people suffer and die. Our attitude is starkly immoral.

The other day I got an opportunity to have a little chat with a high-up of Civil Aviation Authority. He was quite satisfied and relaxed, and found no trouble with the crash. I asked whether the Fokkers have not completed their life, this one was made in 1964. He told it is not like that, after it has lived its flying hours life the engine is replaced. Then, why this crash? I probed. He declared emphatically: it is machine and anything can happen to it.

Lo! No one is responsible because we are dealing with machines (but they who deal in machines tell we are responsible) and machines can go wrong whenever they like to. But PIA doesn’t have its tickets back telling us this, it behaves like this: Fly at your own risk! The governments in Pakistan too behave like this: Live at your own risk!

From a minor accident in which an individual gets bruises to an accident in which the toll of human lives reaches hundreds of men, women and children, no one is responsible. This all happens by itself. Recall the history of Railways accidents, collisions, etc. Was ever anybody declared responsible? Recall road accidents, was anybody held responsible? Recall floods, inundations, etc, was anyone found responsible? Recall bomb explosions, ammunition depot explosions, was ever anyone held responsible? Recall political and military blunders and coups and the toll they took, were there any ones responsible for it? Recall police killings, were ever anyone found responsible? Recall the robberies, dacoities, murders, judicial, extra-judicial killings, tortures; recall the scams, swindling, corruption, but why recall? We have all these before us! How many of them held and punished? Recall the crash of the giant swing in Lahore and the suffering of the kids, was anyone responsible? Recall unfit food, unfit water, unfit fruits, unfit milk, and things like that, is anyone responsible for the harm they inflict to the users of these items/ Recall and forget!

This state of affair is a symptom of what’s happening on the surface; the causes lie deep down in our legal and value system. A society needs two things to live peacefully: first is laws, and second is moral values. We lack both. We have no rules, laws, constitution to follow or say we change, manipulate them to our advantage; thus, we are free from any responsibility that rules, laws, or a constitution lay upon us. This is diagnosed as the Rule of Lawlessness. And, ironically, every government tells that it is not responsible for that whereas establishing and maintaining rule of law is the supreme responsibility of a government.

As to values, we have turned into a society without any value. In other words it means our supreme value negates all those values that human civilization values most. This value is: Might is Right, discarded by the human society long ago the moment it stepped forward from a life and law of jungle.

We are regressing on the scale of human values. Just as many reports and indices rank countries for various achievements, the latest one, which comes to mind, being the failed state index, if there be an index ranking countries on the scale of immoral state, probably we will be among the ones on the top of the list. We are an Immoral State through and through. The problem with our attempts to go ahead with reforms, etc, is that every step toward any reformation starts with a certain value, and we loathe following values.

But what we need direly at this moment is a step toward strict implementation of rules and laws. We need Rule of Law. In other words, it means freedom under the law, not the freedom, we enjoy at this time, of playing with the law. It has two sides: first, those upon whom laws are imposed have their freedoms and are not free to act beyond the limits of those freedoms prescribed under the law, if they do so they be held responsible for the violation of those laws; second, those who enforce laws are also bound to act under certain laws, they are not free to act as they wish, and if they do so they be held responsible equally. We need freedom with responsibility that will be ensured only when all are treated equal before the law, and there is Rule of Law.

[This article was completed on July 13, 2006.]

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