Monday saw news channels flashing dramatic clips of lawyers vandalizing state property as part of their ongoing protests. Adhering to the confines, or liberties thereof, defined by their respective editorial policies, we saw a variety of coverage from news channels – from depiction of ‘violence’ committed by charged men in black to not-so-impartial demonization of the protesting lawyers. While the extent varied, coverage was laced with blame assignment and perhaps rightly so. But is the blame headed in the right direction?
“Lawyers and judges exist here but there is no law really in Pakistan,” said Khurram Ali, a former central organizer of National Students Federation. “If you have money and influence, you can buy justice by paying lawyers and judges. If you don’t have the money and influence, justice is an alien concept for you.”
Justice is perhaps bound to remain a foreign concept for the masses until and unless the foundation of the superstructure is laid on the basis of justice. Is it reasonable to expect justice in a system whose very spirit is rooted in inequality and exploitation? Now that a system is so exploitative that even justice becomes the private property of a select few, disarray – such as that displayed today by lawyers – is perhaps inevitable. The state employs all the methods of coercion to maintain the status quo – the wheel, no matter how bad it rusts, must continue to spin, crushing beneath the blood and sweat of the masses. Everyone feels exploited in this system – from lawyers, who stage strikes and abandon courts every other day, to the general population, who vent out their anger by taking to the streets, at times supposedly against corruption (in Imran Khan’s jalsas) and at others against the ouster of their elected PM.
The system is rotten and is further rotting. It is plagued by injustice, unequal distribution of wealth and class conflict, resulting in chaos in almost all arenas of politics and life. In times of such chaos and confusion, use of force is seen as the last resort to build pressure by both the state and the people. The state crushes dissent on part of the people, employing tactics of coercion. It plays an active as well as indirect role in upholding the status quo that eventually results in alienation of the deprived segments. The legal fraternity of Pakistan, however unjustified it may be in its demands, sees itself being wronged in the absence of rule of law by an arm of the state – judiciary. In times when justice belongs to a few and there is no rule of law governing society, the state has lost its legitimacy in the eyes of the people, be they masses (such as those protesting against corruption) or the ruling classes (such as ousted PM Nawaz Sharif). The end result is tactics of coercion from all sides.
Tahir, Minerwa. Analysis: Rampaging lawyers – pressure is what matters in the absence of rule of law. Samaa, August 21, 2017.