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 Rule of Law
 
A world without rules
The News, Pakistan Thursday, January 01, 2009

Khalil Ahmad
In the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, the mysterious killings in Karachi and the escalating civil war like conditions in various parts of Pakistan? Actually, all the violence so widespread in our world and notably in South Asia, in the final analysis, is the result of blatant violation of the rule of right is might, which is also a consequence of the violation of rules of just life and behaviour. When rule of might is right prevails, violence infects everything. Perhaps we, the human beings, have forgotten what distinguishes us from animals, writes Dr Khalil Ahmad in The News.

It is rules that distinguish human beings from animals. It is rules that distinguish a society from a jungle. Also, it is rules the absence of which transforms human beings into animals and a society into a jungle. That is what is happening around us today. In simple terms, I would love to formulate that Darwin's theory of evolution may have been one of the greatest discoveries in the realm of biological and social sciences, but were he alive he would have put forward an opposite of his theory today to demonstrate how species may (de)volve backwards. It would have been named as Darwin's 'theory of devolution'.

It appears too much of an ordinary thesis which has been used, abused and misused in every nook and cranny of our society, from a street to a scholar's den, that we have our primeval animals quite alive and kicking in us to this day. No doubt, we are fond of passing this judgment that human beings are no better than animals and that they are still at the raw stage of evolution: at the stage of animality. Let me clarify I am not indulging in that cynic talk. It does not mean I am an optimist. I am no pessimist either. I am going to argue that if such and such things take place, they will most probably lead to such and such situations.

 

Here is the gist of the argument: animals have no rules to follow; they have their nature or their instincts that mostly direct their behavior, as we all know. This means they have no rules of their own making. Or if they have such rules, these are simply not comparable with those of human beings. This also entails that it is not rules alone that ensure survival. In that case, animals would have been extinct now. It means that human beings too can survive without rules. Of course, we are surviving others who succumb to mass murders, blasts, bombings, suicide attacks, deliberate killings, useless wars, and both state and non-state torture and oppression. This brings us back to that stage of evolution where we were no better than animals. Perhaps that is what our cynic's popular thesis means.

 

At that stage, we may have had rules like animals, but we had not started yet discussing and debating those rules. Or it may be that when we got ourselves free from the shackles of our inherent nature (and nature from without also) and instincts that we decisively separated ourselves from animals. We brought ourselves under the burden of rules of our own making. We subjected ourselves to a transformation of our liking with the help of those rules. These rules were not merely rules, but rules of just life and behaviour. Thus, it is just rules that dragged us to populate a community of our own far from the jungle of unjust rules. Clearly, if we abandon those rules and practically liken our rules to those of animals, we are doomed -- regardless of the wishes of pessimists or optimists. Cynics may enjoy and wager how the game finishes.

 

How this fits in the present scenario? Especially, in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, the mysterious killings in Karachi and the escalating civil war like conditions in various parts of Pakistan? Actually, all the violence so widespread in our world and notably in South Asia, in the final analysis, is the result of blatant violation of the rule of right is might, which is also a consequence of the violation of rules of just life and behaviour. When rule of might is right prevails, violence infects everything. In effect, when violence ensues from an authority the sole rationale of which is the use of might, such as military takeovers or unjust civil governments in Pakistan, or other regimes the world over, such an authority will naturally lose its moral, legal and constitutional grounds. Not only does it sustain on violence and as a result of its acts provokes more and more violence, it also provides other sections of society with an alibi to justify their acts of violence. To dispel the confusion, it may be clarified that violence is the monopoly of an authority that is moral, legal, lawful and constitutional.

 

What makes an authority moral, legal, lawful, and constitutional? John Dewey pointed out: "The most pressing problem of humanity is living together." It is to address this problem that every community creates an authority to use violence in the name and for the sake of just rules. Sure, its purpose is not to perpetrate violence, but to protect life and property of all members of that community, and their inalienable or fundamental rights and their freedoms. It is to secure these objectives that that authority makes use of violence and of course strictly in accordance with the law of that community. That authority enjoys no discretion. It has to act within the ambit of that community's law. This is what makes an authority moral, legal, lawful, and constitutional; or vice-versa.

We have Pakistan as a typical example. Its 1973 Constitution ensures its citizens security of their fundamental rights. But the citizens of Pakistan have never been considered citizens with any fundamental rights by any government. In

This article was published in the The News on Thursday, January 01, 2009. Please read the original article here.
Author : Dr Ahmad is the director of Alternate Solutions Institute in Lahore, Pakistans first free market think-tank.
Tags- Find more articles on - Pakistan judiciary | Pakistan politics | Pakistan terrorism

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