Okara, and Karachi. Two places, same problem. In Okara, there were just a few visuals on social media, of scores of protestors, faced with a few tanks. Those who live in Okara could tell you that this unusual face off is the result of a few decades old disagreement between a few thousand peasant farmers, and the military. Those who live in Okara *could* tell you — but they won’t. Because the police and the administration of the area would hold them to account for “anti-state” activities, raid their houses, in certain cases arrest them and whisk them off to a facility, and in short give them the full treatment that such offences elicit from those who wish the protestors would just melt into the night.

On the other hand, the project of billionaire Malik Riaz, Bahria Town Karachi. Malik Riaz’s meteoric rise to wealth raised many questions, and he by his own admission answered them; smugly and loudly admitting to paying large bribes to important government and armed forces personnel, all the while trying to a pint himself as the honest victim of an unjust system.

Sadly, the only honest victims in both cases are those left homeless and landless, and voiceless. We in the media seldom raise a voice for them — and for that we are condemnable. Our elected representatives would rather such a debate were never sparked in the assembles, rather than participate in it. Our law enforcement leaps to service we requested to take a baton to protestors, but otherwise prefers to remain aloof in such matters.

Of course, when land is forcibly snatched a person can approach the government for redress – what is he to do when the state is the one doing the snatching. The disadvantaged and the landless should be, ought to be, are supposed to be protected from opportunistic businessmen, certainly. But what to say of the greed of the state that governs them. How does one defend them against those who insist that a reading of the law requires them to be landless. Maybe the law is right, but that does not mean it is just. And a generous state, a kind state, a state that would inspire devotion rather than fear, would see that and act accordingly.

The request for sympathetic action by the peasant farmers of Okara has fallen on deaf ears for decades, and in Karachi the protests of those left homeless will mostly likely meet the same fate. Unfortunately, in Pakistan it has come to be that laws are made only to govern the poor, not the wealthy. For the wealthy to acquire more is their right, and for the poor to protest for their rights is a punishable offence.