Shackle It – OpEd


Two of the world’s best American social scientists and authors of the international bestselling book “Why Nations Fail”, Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson have well-illustrated the model of a dream-state in their recently published seminal work “The NARROW CORRIDOR States, Societies and the Fate of Liberty”. In their research work spreading over almost two decades, they have expounded three types of states: a fettered state, unbridled despotic one and no state at all. 

According to the authors, a no-state-at all is a social situation in which society and net of the social norms are so strong that they block the emergence of political hierarchy and thereby state. These sorts of societies are called stateless societies. The life of the liberty-loving individuals in the stateless societies is miserable. But today, the examples of stateless societies are rare; nevertheless, the feudal fiefdoms can be pointed out as the best instances. The second and the most despised form of the state is the despotic state. In this type of the state, society is weak and state is strong and in so doing a tyrant. In despotic state, peace, liberty and economic progress are the cost to pay. Examples include North Korea, Myanmar, former USSR of Stalin, Afghanistan of the Taliban, etcetera. The third and the ideal type of the state, according to the authors, is a fettered state. The fettered state is, in fact, a balanced state, in which both state and society are equally strong – capable enough to check the transgressions of one another. 

In a balanced state, the state is a strong state with functional institutions – have capacity to adjudicate disputes, maintain law and order, provide people means to utilize their abilities and achieve their material and spiritual ends. In the same way, in a balanced state, society is also equally strong – literate, politically conscious, vigilant, struggling, jealously guarding liberty, asserting dignity and has will to fetter state overbearing. Besides, in a balanced state, the state and the society trust and cooperate with one another. Thus, in the end, one can say that ‘a balanced state is a state in which the state and society live like two brothers competing in a narrow corridor to assert their rights and value’. This is the ideal state of Acemoglu and Robinson. Europe and America can be cited as the examples.

Contrary to the ideal state of Acemoglu and Robinson, the state Imran Khan is designing is a despotic and tyrant state. It seems since the day of his swearing-in, Imran has burnt the boats to convert Pakistan into another despotic regime of North Korea and Myanmar. In a federal democratic state like Pakistan constitutional supremacy, parliamentary vigilance, judicial freedom, provincial autonomy, media freedom, recognition of socio-political rights, dignity of man and availability of education are essential institutions and instruments to check the executive’s despotic tyrannical tendencies. However, Imran regime has damaged all above mentioned institutions and instruments required to check the unbridled state powers against society.

From his hostility to the provincial autonomy enshrined in the constitution, it is crystal clear that Imran is out to rebel against the supreme law of the land. Besides, he has a professed tendency to undermine parliament that stands in his totalitarian ways. He prefers presidential ordinances over the parliamentary acts. This is to deny people right to check the executive unilateralism aimed to aggrandize latter’s powers. When compelled to bring bills in the parliament, Imran regime simply uses carrot and stick policy to get the bills passed from the parliament. Honorable judges work under the fear of blackmailing and sometimes physical attacks. Media owners are perishing in his jails. Whosoever media worker dares to expose his incompetence, maladministration, mismanagement, corruption, bribery and tyranny, Imran regime doesn’t wait to abduct him or register the fake FIRs against him. Under his rule, life and dignity of a person, especially of weaker sections of the society – women, transgender, children and minorities – have become miserable. Ironically, instead of providing safety and solace to the victims, Imran has penchant to shift the blame onto the victim. Besides, this regime of a troglodyte has cut education funds to keep people illiterate and unconscious so that the uneducated people cannot question his despotism. The tyranny of the time is that Quaid-i-Azam university Islamabad, a top university of the country, has created a post of Teacher Assistant and requiring PhD from the candidate and offering only fifteen thousand rupees (90$) a month. Worst of all, Imran regime has brought security laws which repress the dissent and critical voices with long-term imprisonment and heavy monetary fine. It seems Imran regime has become an enraged elephant trampling under its feet whatever belongs to the society.

So, it is high time to shackle it!

Moreover, Imran’s mafia-favoring economic policies have battered the financial position of the people. Surging unemployment rates, rising inflation, falling incomes, business stagnation at home and abroad, etcetera is fast-shrinking the middle class and making life of the lower class unbearable. Imran’s economic failure is clear from the fact that even in capital city of the country beggary is rampant; say nothing of remote poor parts of the country! The economic miseries would make society apolitical. An apolitical society would lose balance in the favor of state out to rule despotically.

The dismaying is the fact that the people’s representatives betray people very often. When it comes to prevent despotic and tyrant laws being enacted, politicians fail to act. This is because Imran has created the atmosphere of fear. However, in this atmosphere of fear, Bilawal’s standing up against despotism is really a laudable act. Bringing all opposition parties on a single platform of the Multi-party Conference is a great achievement. Moreover, the proposals prepared and strategies devised at the MPC to get rid of state despotism, restore society what belongs to it and create a balanced state of Acemoglu and Robison are not the magic wand will be working spontaneously. To create a balanced state, society and its representatives need long-term, selfless and undaunted struggle against Imrani despotism.      

* Raza Shahani, Teaches at Shah Abdul Latif University, Khairpur, Sindh, Pakistan

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