Elusive Justice


Also available on Audacity to Write

Over 3 years have passed since Pakistan witnessed the massacre of at least 14 protesters live on television. The massacre termed as “Model Town Massacre” was neither the first nor the last such massacre in Pakistan. The brief history of Pakistan over the last 7 decades has witnessed many such incidents but model town massacre was the first one which got almost 12 hours of live coverage. Every moment was captured live, the faces of police men who shot unarmed men and women can clearly be identified and since it was a state sponsored act of terrorism the hierarchy of command clearly implicates those who are in governance as aiders and abettors in this massacre.

 

 

Much has been written about the events which led up to the massacre and the details of that blood soaked day in the history of Lahore but the follow up is mostly ignored. Immediately after the massacre Pakistan Awami Tehreek launched a protest movement which resulted in over 2 months of continuous sit-in in the state capital. Among the many demands of PAT was the demand of a fair trial, perhaps they were asking too much as the FIR had nominated the Prime Minister and other sitting ministers of the government. Fair trial seemed unfair to many in the power corridors, thus after a stale mate of over 2 months the sit in ended, PAT and families of the victims were only able to get the FIR registered that too with the intervention of the then COAS who promised to see the case to its logical end but the world has seen far too many broken promises. PAT and the families of the martyrs took the legal route and tried their luck with the legal system of Pakistan. After all we have independent judiciary. But it seemed that the judiciary was reluctant to take up the case. The Baqir Najfi commission report on the Model Town Massacre was estopped from being published. The courts adjourned the hearing for weeks and months and after almost 3 years exempted the nominated ministers from appearing in the court and then all the accused police officers who were clearly identified in the footage were released on bail.

3 years on and just still remains elusive for the families of those who were slain on 17th June. But is this shocking? I don`t think so, since when has any victim succeeded in getting justice in this country? Back in the 80`s and 90`s Karachi and Hyderabad witnessed gruesome ethnic violence. The Pakka Qila and Ali garh massacres saw the death of over 400 men and women. A few months ago the courts freed the accused of these massacres because of lack of evidence. Shahzaib Khan, a young boy was murdered by the son of an influential business man in Karachi, the case got all the media hype it could but Shahrukh Jatoi, who murdered young Shahzaib is enjoying the high life even though courts have sentenced him for life. He should be behind the bars in a cell pondering over his life choices but no being a rich and spoiled brat he is exempted from the treatment a normal murderer would receive. Family of Zain also suffered the same fate in Lahore. Zain a young boy was murdered by Mustafa Kanju who apparently had influential connections. This case once again garnered media attention; the case was taken up by the courts but for some reason once again the courts seemed reluctant to move against the murderer. Zain`s mother pleaded to the then Chief Justice to deliver justice, ironic!

Why is it that our judicial system cannot punish the guilty? Why do the rich and powerful always wriggle their way out? The problem lies in our decadent system. The whole system is rotten to the core and serves as a bastion for the corrupt and wicked.

 

The salvation of Pakistan lies in a total overhaul of the system, a major surgery as the political analysts term it. There is no dearth of honest, hardworking and talented individuals who can serve this nation but they need to be in a position of authority in order to put their talent to good use. The change has to come from somewhere, either within or without. But it has to come. Pakistan needs to get on with the institution building process; we need institutions which can stand on their own and not bow down to any sort of pressure. Functional institutions will then be able to set forth the roadmap for progress and recovery of lost honor. It`ll be a long journey ahead from there but first we have to overcome our own inertia, it seems unlikely to me right now as we are suffering from a total institutional collapse. Therefore it is highly unlikely for a massive change to come from within, this leaves us with the second option and that is through mass public awakening. This too seems unlikely as there have been many attempts to awaken the masses in past 3 years and the masses have shown that they are quite content with the state they are in. But the situation is not hopeless; we must never cease to hope. The silver lining might not be there just yet but eventually something will happen. Till then justice will remain elusive.

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