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Archive for January, 1999

Clear and Present Danger

One of the better recognized pronouncements of the widely quoted Oliver Wendell Holmes involved the “freedom of speech” and licence thereof. The most liberal Judge of the US Supreme Court in his time gave an example about a man, who while watching a movie, starts yelling “fire, fire”, leading to a stampede towards the exits of the Movie-theatre with resultant injuries (even deaths) among the cinema-goers. Restraining the man or punishing him would technically violate his freedom of speech, to allow such a “freedom” would result in injuries, even deaths to innocent bystanders, what should be the logical course of justice? Oliver Wendell Holmes said that when any individual misuses any freedom (in this case of speech), endangering others in any manner, the concept of application of justice must recognize the situation as a “clear and present danger” and the individual must be restrained, relying more on the tenets of logic rather than the pure letter of the law.

Deterioration of the law and order situation tends to put economic order in jeopardy, when an economic state of affairs is already in an advanced stage of apocalypse, the problems are force-multiplied by those who take law into their own hands. The emergence of a new breed of sophisticated criminals who misuse democratic power at will to violate the law at will threatens the foundations of our society. The modus operandi is (1) to bribe or coerce the concerned individuals of the law enforcement agencies to ignore their excesses or even collaborate with them (2) if caught in criminal acts, to bribe the concerned individuals in the investigating agencies to so spoil the evidence that the case cannot be brought to trial or successfully prosecuted (3) if in police custody, to seek medical reprieve to be relatively free with facilities of TV, air-conditioners, good food, visitors at will, hard liquor etc, in short all the comforts of home (4) if brought to trial, given that witnesses and evidence are forthcoming, to hire expensive and clever lawyers who can browbeat the courts into accepting their client’s point of view leading to the person’s freedom (5) turn the courtroom into a drama that will coerce the judges by latent blackmail and (6) misrepresent facts aforementioned in the court of public opinion by a sustained media campaign. Direct access to political power by the winning of Assembly seats makes for a combination with money that is lethal. The majority of the citizens of Pakistan are hard-working, honest people, mostly illiterate, who see their meagre salaries dwindling in the face of galloping rise in consumer prices while eking out a miserable existence, while others much less worthy add that runaway inflation by their illegal incomes outside the purview of the law. Everyone has a right to legal cover but justice has become a privilege of the rich, the poor simply cannot afford it. In any society this is a tragedy, in an Islamic State it is a curse, something to be eradicated with a vengeance.

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Crying wolf!

Pakistan has been the focus of terrorism for over two decades. In the early 80s, we were targeted by India’s RAW and Afghanistan KHAD, both supported by the Soviet Union’s KGB through Al-Zulfiqar, the terrorist arm of PPP, representing a militant faction led by the two Bhutto brothers, Murtaza and Shahnawaz. In the 80s decade, bomb explosions were fairly frequent all over Pakistan, many targeted assassinations also took place. Of major concern were the separatist forces in the Province of Sindh. CIA’s logistic support during the Afghan War years and due to the sheer professionalism, motivation and dedication of our intelligence personnel Pakistan developed a fairly effective counter-terrorism mechanism, mainly in the ISI but also in the IB. The credit of bringing the secessionist forces to heel must go to the much maligned Brig Imtiaz, who as head of ISI in Sindh, decimated their ranks so completely that 15 years later they have yet to be revived fully.

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Entering the new millennium

The Year 1999 is the last of the 20th century, at the end we will be entering the new millennium. While the world as a whole has made tremendous progress, we have to search within our own soul to determine whether the leaders of this country have justified our existence as a nation to the people and communities that live within its parameters. Unfortunately we have seen quality eroded in every aspect of our lives, it’s about time we seriously conducted an indepth analysis to adopt some means of reversing this debilitating trend.

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