In another act of being lawyer, judge and jury, police in Bahawalpur chopped off the left hands of two men accused of the theft of electrical barbed wire and mobile phones. The police defended itself by the absolutely ridiculous explanation that the men had tried to cut their wrists in a suicide attempt and sawed their hands right off with razor blades. This type of hysteria and religious righteousness needs to be addressed by the so called ulemas who roll out fatwas so easily to permit underage marriage while problems of rape, honour killing and extra judicial justice all in the name of Islam are side-lined.

In a meltdown of law and order enforcement at the micro level, across the state there are numerous incidents of the police being incredibly inadequate. Last week, while Farzana Parveen was being stoned to death outside the Lahore High Court of all places, the police stood by and let the pregnant woman be killed. There is less than a 3 percent conviction rate in honour killings and rapes. There is nothing to deter ordinary people from such blatant acts of cruelty, like shooting down a doctor for his religious beliefs. Nor is the police being held accountable or responsible.

This is not going to stop without a proactive approach. It has become a national, sociological problem. Even with a cruel and barbaric population, the state would still be functional if law was applicable. By the cynical political philosophy of Thomas Hobbes, the law exists because people are cruel; it’s the only thing standing between people ripping each other apart over greed, religion and sheer lack of empathy and reasoning. By the classic Weberian definition, the state is a “human community that claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory”. But if the law can’t be enforced, if justice rests with individuals and not the state, if the state does not protect its population that is dying in increments, and does not hold monopoly over legitimate violence (i.e. punishment for crime in modern statehood), then there is no state. In that case, we are living under the anarchical principles of a non-state. Accountability must start somewhere; and accountability for law enforcement officials seems like as good a place as any to begin.