Pakistan’s civil justice ranking on a survey by the World Justice Project and Gallup Pakistan paints a bleak picture and provides justification as to why some citizens are bent on leaving the country or at least embarrassed of their nationality. The green and white ranks 106 out of 113 countries for civil justice and an even more abysmal 109 out of 113 for regulatory enforcement. Although thousands have experienced situations first-hand, the quantification of how poorly the country ranks is flabbergasting. Rankings for criminal justice and government accountability — standing at 81 and 72 out of 113, respectively — although lower, are nothing to gloat about, either. The survey takers consisted of common citizens as well as lawyers — one of the major promoters of a country’s legal system. All stakeholders need to give this statement a deep second thought. Although dramatic change is impossible to achieve in the next few years, effort must be made by all departments a bit at a time. This first means that the current system requires an evaluation to determine how certain parameters must be improved and then instituting a check and balance system to ensure speedy and fair processing of cases.
Jirgas, panchayats and other tribal systems have been consequential and popular because most citizens have little faith in the justice system. This is evidenced by most of the 40 per cent of survey takers who recently experienced a serious dispute making the decision to do nothing about the injustice they faced. Many have no faith in the police, either and it would not be unusual to have been advised by a judge against approaching law enforcement for a case. These are appalling truths about the country that blind patriots ignore and even attempt to defend at times. Instead, considering the incalculable breaches of basic rights, we must move beyond the ‘unity, faith, and discipline’ narrative and adopt a fourth tenet of justice.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2017.