A seven-year-old girl leaves her home to read Quran at her Khala’s (aunt’s) place. This must be a daily routine for the little girl. However, January 5 was not like any other day for her. She went out, never to return. Five days later, her body was found on the heap of garbage a few yards from her home. Her body was severely mutilated. Repeated rape and assault on her body signifies a very grim reality that this society has become pathologically sick and morally dwarfish. As the story of the lost Zainab unfolded two culprits came to the fore. One, of course, is the rapist and murderer. Second is the Punjab Police, or to narrow it down, the Kasur police where the incident took place. A relative of the girl, Zainab, told a TV anchor that the policeman who had found the girl asked her relatives to give bounty money to his subordinate for the efforts he had made to hunt her. This he said while standing on the corpse.

For five days, while the girl’s relatives went from pillar to post, looking for their lost child, the police remained nonchalant and disinterested. Neither an FIR was filed, nor were the relatives listened to. The CCTV footage was secured through the personal efforts of Zainab’s siblings. As soon as Zainab’s dead body was found anger burst out in violence, over the lethargic attitude of the police.

It has now become a new normal for the public to resort to violence to attract the attention of the government claiming good governance. According to the media reports gathered from the crime scene, a gang of young boys riding motorcycles, apparently students, ransacked police station and assaulted police officers. In retaliation, the police untrained to handle mob, opened fire on the protestors that included the locals, killing two people. At every level, the police proved to be inept, incompetent and unprofessional. This is when the country has been in the crosshairs of homegrown terrorism for ten straight years.

So it becomes difficult to believe the government when it takes the credit for eliminating terrorism. One wonder what would happen if we did not have an efficient, self-serving and disciplined army. Very often the civil administration is heard complaining that the military keeps putting a spanner in the smooth functioning of the political affairs. How can the army interfere in obstructing police reforms? General Musharaf brought 2002 police reforms, but he ignored the essentials because they were not acceptable to his political allies. So, the army is not the hurdle. It is the civilian leadership’s disposition to putting personal interest ahead of national interests that has resulted in the faithlessness in the government. There is a pervasive disconnect between the state and the society. Citizens do not trust the state and are sceptical about the ability of its institutions to provide security, justice, and development.

The structure of governance depends on three processes. First, the election process, anchored to selection, monitoring and replacement or re-election of government. Second, formulation of effective policies backed by law and the will to establish the writ of the state through implementation of policies. Third, respect for the institutions that govern interaction among the state and the citizens. In case of Pakistan, all these processes are skewed to feed a culture that promotes authoritarian power structure, making the mighty mightier. For the sake of constitutional liberalism——respect for rule of law, protection of the minorities and the freedom of expression and association—-the state needs to be remodelled. A visionary leadership is in call to converge the competing interests of different state actors, to restore the respect of constitutional offices (the parliament, the judiciary, the Election Commission) and to reform the policing and security functions of the state.

Over the years, the institutional integrity of all these prestigious offices and their roles have become dubious and week. People consider the police, the judiciary the revenue collectors and the politicians as instruments of corruption, misrule, and abuse of authority. In case of Zainab, the performance of the police has not been only unprofessional but insensitive as well. Zainab was one of the 12 girls abducted in a year in Kasur. Except one girl, all had been killed. Neither the Chief Minister nor the Inspector General Police of the province had the inkling of the social disorder, happening just a few hundred meters from their offices, in Lahore. Even the MNAs and MPAs of Kasur were equally oblivious. Because the system is not functioning, not a single FIR had been registered of all these 12 girls. The CCTV cameras installed in the Kasur city are of low resolution hence incapable of helping the police recognize criminals. It is still not sure if the girl in the footage was actually Zainab or not. Of what use are the so-called vibrant system of Information Communication Technology Punjab and various forms of police forces if they are not contributing.

To the intellectuals (now we have many because of social-media) the solution to this economic and social debacle lies in abusing, ransacking and killing the government officers along with the rapist and the killer. Not a bad idea, when the government is unresponsive and missing. However, will this mend our flawed political system? Or do we need a mind-set that values country’s betterment above anything else? Pakistan has resources, but they are not spent on right things. The government has to realize that the prime concern of the citizens is security, which is the function of a normative aspect of democracy where people are fed, educated, protected and developed both morally and mentally, on state’s resources. When the state fails in connecting with its people through the provision of security, it becomes the target of violence that eventually becomes a reason for its demise every few years.