Imagine a medieval setting of a badly-lit dungeon with chains and torture devices in a gloomy castle complete with a king that holds his subjects in perpetual disdain, and you will not be very far from picturing the situation that has always existed in some parts of Balouchistan. The Police raided JUI-F’s Abdul Rehman Khetran’s house on Sunday and reportedly recovered seven people languishing in his very own private prison. Among the prisoners were two women and three children. The elite in this country can take certain liberties that most super villains would only dream of, and torturing police officers and robbing them of their weapons seems like a plot twist from a Western cowboy flick unless, you live in Pakistan of course.

Khetran, who has held the post of the province’s Education Minister in the past, surrendered, but wasted no time in pointing fingers and claimed that political motivations and personal vendettas are what landed him in hot water. If anything, one can argue that a person who tortures and imprisons people at whim has only managed to escape from justice up till now because of the political support that keeps him safe from harm. But no, as usual, the perpetrator is probably completely innocent and it his victims who should be arrested for incurring his wrath in the first place. The police should be ashamed of themselves for arresting someone of his stature and should instead volunteer the next time Mr. Khetran wants a public servant to experiment new and more effective methods of dishing out pain. Do they not know that making one’s overlord unhappy is the quickest way to an early grave?

The traditional importance given to local and tribal leaders needs to be rooted out if anything substantial is to be achieved in stopping the abuse of power. The Pirs and Sardars do not follow the legal code of Pakistan and instead, have developed one of their own. Their word is law. Half of our problems derive from a lack of implementation of the Pakistani code, which then allows cultural, customary law and conventions to fill the vacuum. Political power only tightens their hold over the public and legitimizes all of their actions. We no longer live in the feudal ages where the nobleman/knight has complete dominion over his realm and all those within it. If only someone would tell the feudal ‘lords’ that as well.