Dereliction of duty has become a necessary lifesaving strategy.
This week, Pakistan’s chief justice, Anwar Zaheer Jamali, has continued his plaint against the lack of good governance in Pakistan. He was hearing a case about the cutting down of trees in Murree which he thought should have been disposed of by the administration.
There is a global bifurcation of governance suggested in the terms “First World” and “Third World,” and most of the low-quality governance in the Third World is attributed to the state’s poverty. When a state hits bottom in bad governance, the world tends to call it a “failing state.”
Pakistan shares some of its bad governance with other Third World states, but in some ways it remains unique and can only be compared to some “failing states” of the world. Pakistan doesn’t only suffer from bad governance; it has what the world has begun to call “ungoverned spaces.” By one count, almost 60 percent of Pakistan’s territory is either without governance or is subject to “no-go areas.”
Before Somalia began its proxy forays into Kenya and Ethiopia, Pakistan served as an example of a state completely devoted to “double” jihad, in Afghanistan and India. It nurtured fully armed warriors within its civil society and retreated from governance after state functionaries succumbed to their de facto authority. Justice Jamali would agree that a chain of secret “Shariah” courts—run within Pakistan by a jihadist organization—is an example of bad governance in our judicial system.
Lack of security in the face of terrorism unleashed by the state’s own nonstate actors has caused bureaucrats to avoid “field” duties and stay chained to their desks. Insecurity in cities like Karachi has imposed dereliction as a necessary lifesaving strategy. Politicians uncertain of the state’s future take to extractions they can stash abroad. And extractions come from illegal contracts awarded to companies offering kickbacks. The trees in Murree may be a casualty to kickbacks induced by this insecurity.