My family tells me that I am displaying aberrant behavior these days. I cannot argue with the notion as I may have become irritable and finicky of late. This condition is perhaps the result of extreme frustration, as I helplessly watch the rapid decline of society and national character. Mercifully, I have a means in my possession through which I can hold up a mirror to those that err in their responsibility to the nation. This means is my pen.

I have always maintained that the one single step that can cure Pakistanis is ‘enforcement’. Enforcement of law and regulations will root out corruption, combat crime and ensure fair play. This is the reason that I often point my pen towards the institution entrusted to effectively and single mindedly lay down the law – the Police. At a strategic and organizational level, our police system is highly politicized, corrupt to the core and generally inept. This has resulted in a general absence of personal discipline, pride and the passion to carry out police work. Cops anywhere in the world are the front office of the state – if that be so then our front office is poorly led, staffed with undesirable chaff and does not display the will to improve.

Let us take a trip around, what can easily be any city or town in Pakistan and take stock of the force that is sworn to create order and protect us. We are now travelling along a central avenue, which has multiple major roads crossing it at right angles. Traffic at these intersections is regulated by traffic lights and traffic police personnel. We spy two grey clad cops standing under a tree totally absorbed in an animated discussion which is punctuated by back slapping and ‘low fives’.  The pair occasionally glance nonchalantly at the dense mass of vehicles passing them and then return to whatever they are discussing with total disregard to motorcyclists without helmets, red light offenders, vehicles stopping across the zebra crossing and innumerable other violations.

We are now approaching a checkpoint where we see guardians of the law showcasing themselves in various poses, the most popular of which is lounging on one leg, while constantly scratching their unmentionables. As we look around we see a blue clad individual eke a cigarette from a person in civvies and dreamily drag on it (while on duty). Another uniformed individual emerges from what is an apology of a shelter, carrying a polythene bag containing some eatables and assumes duty, while frequently dipping into his bag of goodies.

Our journey takes us to the next piquet where our quest for smartly turned out cops meets failure. What we see instead, is a group with two days stubble on their chins, un-ironed uniforms, half open shirt fronts and caps pushed way back on their heads. As we turn into a side road, we brake sharply in order to avoid hitting two helmetless custodians of the law riding a motorbike on the wrong side of the street.

On our return journey, we spot a blue clad figure thumbing traffic for a lift. We decide to help the man as small recompense for his organization’s inability to provide him a means of official transportation so that he can report for duty. A snazzy looking car ahead of us preempts our good deed for the day and stops to pick up the cop. As the front door swings outwards we see that its windows are covered with black paper. The man in blue climbs into the vehicle after a grateful ‘salaam’ without the slightest qualm that by riding a vehicle that is breaking the law, he is acting as an accessory to a violation.

My readers often tell me that that I am pouring water over the proverbial duck’s back and no amount of writing would change things, but I and other’s like me cannot stop - for our failure to expose the truth would tantamount to disloyalty towards the vision and ideals that made the creation of Pakistan possible. I long for the day when the duck I am pouring water on turns wet. I am doing so with the knowledge that such a day will surely arrive, in my grandchildren’s time if not in mine.

The writer is a freelance columnist.