A much-needed change  


All the improvements in Pakistan regarding rule of law are being attributed to the Supreme Court of Pakistan. At the same time, the newly elected government of Imran Khan that came into power with the slogan of change has apparently failed to establish good governance. The DPO Pakpattan case is proving a precursor on how the PTI government will rule in Punjab. Although, austerity measures and operations against land mafia are commendable, yet the core issue is reforms in institutions. A common man interacts with government through governmental institutions and if the institutional reforms are not made quickly, the common man would remain dissatisfied. And the first step to institutional reforms is action against political interference in institutional matters.

Although the Supreme Court has accepted apologies of Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and former police chief Kaleem Imam in the DPO Pakpattan case, yet there are many lessons for the government and institutions. The adamant response of the CM Punjab on the report of NACTA official is a cause for concern. It shows that those sitting at the helm of affairs consider themselves supreme authority and they believe that nobody can challenge their actions and decisions. This attitude will lead Pakistan to nowhere. In this case, there is also a lesson for Prime Minister Imran Khan who always propagates that he will not accept any wrongdoing and corruption. The PM needs to intervene and take action against his CM for making undue interference in the police department.

The political interference, corruption and inept recruitment in the police department are banesb of the existing system. The police leadership all over Pakistan is closely tied to the executive of the province, in a set-up inherited from colonial times, and as such its motivations lie not in serving the people but in being politically savvy. This inhibits the police’s performance, as officers are too afraid to rock the boat and risk their job safety. But given the present circumstances, the SC’s intervention can be interpreted as part of the judicial activism in the country. However, it needn’t be; this should be taken as an opportunity to start the much-needed reform in the provincial police force so that it can be strengthened and could be made free of political interferences.

Soon after assuming the charge, the PM had made tall claims of establishing the writ of law and eliminating favouritism and political interference but the Maneka controversy is negating his claims. It has always been claimed by the PTI that the police have been depoliticized in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the same model will be emulated in Punjab. However, the alleged interference of the Chief Minister Punjab in the incident has made supporters of Khan scepticals about his claims. The establishment of Naya (new) Pakistan is not possible unless PM Khan reforms the existing system in the country. If landlords and persons with influence will continue to make a mockery of the law, then there is no hope of any positive change. In this regard, the onus of responsibility lies on the Prime Minister. He should take stock of wrongdoings of his subordinates. There is a need to set an example for others. Prompt action at the higher level is required in such matters. Good governance can only be ensured if the principles of equality, justice and fair play are implemented.