Top#5 Essays on Social/Society Issues Related Matters

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Essay#1: Human Development – The Status of Pakistan | Complete Essay with Outline

Outline

  1. Introduction
  2. Human Development Index (HDI) of Pakistan
  3. Human Capital Index (HCI) of Pakistan
  4. HDI Vs. HCI
  5. HDI and HCI – Past and Present (World Development Report)
    • No Investment on People
    • Poor Investment on People
    • Lack of Attention to Education and Health
    • Infant Health and Mortality
  6. Reasons for the Relegated Human Development Status
    • Spending of Meager Resources on Education and Health
    • The Model of Development is Development
    • Measurement of Economic Growth through GDP
    • Education, Health, Social Welfare are not Primary Goals
    • Lower status of Education, Health & Nutrition, and Employment in the Annual Economic Survey
    • Human Development – Not a Primary and Important Goat for Govts
    • Govts aren’t Judged by Their Performance of Human Development Outcomes
    • Human Development is not the End-Goal
    • Neglection of Human Development in Mega Projects (CPEC)
  7. HumanDevelopment – The Future
    • Present Govt and its Priorities

Human Development in Pakistan Essay

Pakistan’s ranking on the Human Development Index (HDI) in 2018, based on 2017 data, is 150th out of 189 countries. India (130th), Bangladesh (136th) and Nepal (149th) are ahead of us. Sri Lanka, ranked 76th, is the star performer of the region.

These are tough times but even when we have had periods of high economic growth our gains on the human development side have been modest. High growth did give us rising incomes and significant reductions in poverty during some periods, but it did not translate into significant changes in health and educational outcomes for most people in the country.

We also do very poorly in terms of the Human Capital Index that has recently been launched by the World Bank. Pakistan falls in the bottom quartile of countries. India is in the second quartile and Sri Lanka in the third.

The HCI is slightly different from the HDI. It focuses a bit more on variables that try to capture the human capital aspect. For example, where HDI focuses on expected years of schooling, the HCI also takes into account learning during that period and tries to get to learning-adjusted ‘years of schooling’. This gives a better idea of what ‘capital’ a person would actually have in terms of learning and knowledge at the end of their schooling experience.

The HDI and HCI ranking of Pakistan tell us two stories. One, we have not invested in our people. And this is true despite the fact that we have had many decades of healthy economic growth as well. Two, even when we have invested in our people, the quality of those investments have been poor.

If we have invested in education, we have focused a lot more on access and have not worried a whole lot about quality. The difference in years of schooling and learning-adjusted years of schooling for Pakistan is quite large. This conclusion has not come out in the recent human capital index alone; it was there in the last World Development Report as well.

The low achievement on the health and education fronts should be very worrying for Pakistan. If our development is not making the lives of our citizens better, what is the argument for development or growth for? Economic growth is not an end in itself; it is important because it allows people to have better lives. Human development is the goal here.

We have a large and young population. If they are not educated and healthy, how can the country even contemplate managing and/ or maintaining high growth rates?

Interestingly, though household-level data in Pakistan shows that we have made significant strides over the last two to three decades in reducing poverty, the correlates of poverty have not moved in the same direction or as much.

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Infant health and mortality, maternal health and mortality, child stunting and wasting numbers show very slow improvement, stagnation or even reversals in certain areas. Some explanation for this puzzle must come from the quality angle that has been mentioned here.

Every government of the past, for the last three or so decades at least, has said that human development was a top priority for them. Our outcomes do not show that this could have been the case. Were these governments not able to make and implement policies to reflect their priorities? The meager resources that we spend on education and health as a percentage of GDP give us a good idea of actual prioritization. We have been ‘promising’ to raise education spending to four percent of GDP for decades now but it is still stuck at around 2pc to 2.5pc.

Part of the explanation comes from the model of development that almost all these governments have been using to think about development.

Economic growth, measured through GDP growth, is central to this model of development. Economic growth comes automatically through markets or some process of trickle-down and is supposed to take care of human development.

Employment, jobs, education and health outcomes, social welfare and protection from vulnerability are not candidates for primary goals.

The Economic Survey, published by the government every year just before the annual budget, is the key government document that talks about its achievements and the state of the economy. The layout of the Economic Survey is very telling. The first chapter is on growth and investment. The next few chapters look at sectoral growth and performance. Education, health and nutrition and employment are addressed in chapters 10, 11 and 12. The ‘top priorities’ of the government do not even merit early mention. Inequality does not even merit a chapter. The performance of the government is clearly judged in terms of growth alone.

It is not just the fact that human development outcomes are not the primary goal, they have not even been important goals.

Governments here do not judge their performance by human development outcomes, they do not set their targets in human development terms and the economic development model they think through does not recognize human development as the end-goal. They do not even recognize the instrumental importance of human development for their cherished goal of economic growth.

There has been a lot of debate on China’s investments in Pakistan recently. Has human development figured in any of these debates? Most of the latter have been on issues of economic growth, infrastructure development and investments. Jobs have figured sometimes, but only as a peripheral concern.

The PTI has, over the last many years, consistently criticized the PML-N government for its emphasis on growth, investment, and infrastructure development as opposed to investments in human capital. They are in power now. It will be interesting to see if they will be able to make human development their top priority.

READ NEXT: Mega Dams and Catastrophes – An In-Depth Analysis | Complete Essay with Outline

Courtesy: Faisal Bari

The writer is a senior research fellow at the Institute of Development and Economic Alternatives and an associate professor economic at Lums, Lahore.

faisal.bari@ideaspak.org

bari@lums.edu.pk


Essay#2: Culture and Cognition – Complete Essay with Outline

Outline

  • Introduction to Culture
  • Status of Pakistani Culture
  • Western Culture Vs. Asian Culture
  • Effects of Our Culture
  • Thought Experiments
  • A Culture of Intimidation and Power
  • Concludatory Remarks

Culture and Cognition - Tech Urdu

A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people. – Mahatma Gandhi

Culture is the social behavior and norms found in human societies. Culture is considered a central concept in anthropology, encompassing the range of phenomena that are transmitted through social learning in human societies.

Pakistanis are at the crossroads of a culture that may inhibit certain cognitive processes. It is impossible to stop people from thinking. But a non-thinking mindset that’s constrained by the rigid do’s and don’ts of culture can put basic cognitive processes on hold.

When these are not allowed to run their full cycle their static forms become ornamental, often meaningless. The sharp edge of inquiry and inquisitiveness can be dulled when it fails to cut through thick crusts of culture that have ossified over centuries. In the end, violating our personal conscience comes to us more easily than violating cultural norms.

Also Read: The Five Pillars of The Political Structure | Complete Essay with Outline

In an experiment in which the picture of an elephant in a jungle was shown to American subjects of all ages, the image triggered object-recognition in the lateral occipital region of the brain of non-Asians, young and old. However, the same image when shown to elderly Asian subjects triggered a different region in the brain. Evidently, an Asian would see a jungle that happened to have an elephant in it, but a Westerner would see the elephant and might notice the jungle. An elephant is a towering subject, more so in a room. A jungle is an eco-system, a culture.

The Western mind responds to the subject. The Asian mind is gripped by the consciousness of a culture in which the subject, however central, becomes incidental. Ancient cultures eventually fade because they suppress identities instead of express them.

How much does our culture affect our desire to examine a phenomenon critically? An audience of around 80 primary school teacher trainers (almost all males) in a small rural town in Pakistan was asked what could be wrong with a posh-hotel bathroom door that shut magnetically but had no knob on the inside — just a latch on the top left-hand corner. The puzzled silence that followed was like a clam that had to be pried open. Most finally said ‘Nothing wrong’, or ‘The latch is there, Sir’.

The consensus was dented when it was pointed out that a child would not be able to reach it. It didn’t flap them because “children-related issues lay in the mother-child domain”. Fathers did not deal with such problems and their families seldom went on holidays or stayed in posh hotels.

Also Read: Wars, Poverty, and Migration | Complete Essay with Outline

Our culture may play a role in inhibiting basic inquiry of the ‘what if’ kind. It is the kind that conducts ‘thought experiments’ to test the imagined consequences of planned activities by rehearsing them mentally. It is essential for planning and problem-solving. But the veil of culture can prevent the light from entering the mind to trigger cognitive speculation. It may even stifle the curiosity needed to provoke such a need.

At a training seminar in Islamabad, an audience of 65 female government primary school teachers were offered a fictitious teaser about the consternation of a husband over a strange news item: a midsummer snowfall in the Murree hills! His surprise changed to exasperation when his wife, glued to the television, ignored his exclamations of shock and awe. Next, he called her a ‘dumb deaf-mute’ to which she turned up the TV volume.

The audience was tasked to figure out what was going on between the couple and why. To do that the trainer offered to become a bank of information. He possessed all they had to know for unraveling the mystery. He would answer all their questions so all they had to do was ask. To this, the participants sat politely in stony silence. Not a single question was fired. It was clear that they never asked those in authority (like the trainer) any questions. It would be culturally inappropriate.

By conforming to this rule, all access to critical information (to solve a problem) remained unused, like the inactive neurons in their brain. It was not for want of trying. Questions simply never rose in their minds (‘we don’t know, Sir’), until they were prompted into asking the husband’s age (68 years). That started the deluge.

When adults can’t ask their superiors questions, they deny themselves the knowledge they seek to satisfy their own curiosity. The notion of authority itself is associated with a culture of intimidation and power. These only serve to conceal the deeper ignorance among ‘superiors’ who are unable to answer questions correctly. They often resort to the use of authority to suppress inquiry. Teachers, in transmitting such a culture to their students bury alive our children’s natural curiosity alongside their own buried long ago.

Quality education demands the arousal of curiosity, then the satisfaction of curiosity through learning and knowing. A culture that nips this process in the bud decapitates not the head but much that’s inside it.

Via DAWN

Courtesy: Shad Moarif


Essay#3: Cultural Constraints to Development | Complete Essay

Cultural Constraints Free Essay

Recently, while arguing against the crass materialism and selfishness that allegedly form the basis of Western culture, the head of a noted religio-political party stated that in the US a man wouldn’t even buy ice cream for his girlfriend. Therefore, Pakistanis – generous and caring as they are towards their friends and relatives – must not emulate the people of the West.

The religious leader echoed a view widely held in our part of the world: that Western societies are creaking under the strain of materialism (read: lack of principles) and individualism (read: every man for himself). Let’s assume to our satisfaction that such a view is consistent with facts. But this is at best a half truth. The amazing economic and technological progress that the West has made over the past two centuries – of which we have been the beneficiaries as well – owes substantially to materialism and individualism, which are properly understood and divested of the negative ethical connotations that they have unfortunately acquired in societies like ours.

Development, like poverty, is above all a cultural problem. Capital formation is a necessary ingredient of development. But no society has made significant strides on the road to economic development by simply building factories or upgrading the infrastructure. In the course of development, the biggest challenge that a society faces is to evolve values that support, rather than discourage, efforts for economic turnaround. Of course, people are free to shun economic development as a goal if they are not well-disposed towards changes of far-reaching significance in the social structure that the pursuit of the goal entails.

 As economists Meier and Baldwin put it, some institutional changes that are not merely economic must be part of development efforts. “New wants, new motivations, new ways of production, new institutions need to be created…” The objective of economic development must become part of society’s value structure.

A glance at the history of Western Europe and North America would reveal that economic development was driven by a supportive social structure. On the basis of Western experience, the outlines of that social structure, equally applicable to the present developing countries including Pakistan, may be sketched as follows:

First and foremost, a society aspiring for economic development must have a positive attitude towards life. People by and large must attach high value to life in the herein. They must not dismiss the world of desire as essentially evil. A philosophy of otherworldliness is fatal to development. On a positive note, a society must put a high premium on things material and must be willing to render the necessary sacrifices. It is only in this sense that Western societies may be called materialistic. Let’s not forget ‘To be rich is glorious’ was one of the most powerful watchwords when the Chinese set forth on economic development during the 1980s.

Not only that, individuals ought to believe that by dint of their efforts, they can change the course of their life and make the world a better place. Fatalism is equally fatal to economic progress.

The predominant way of thinking in a society seeking economic development should be rational and empirical. A set of beliefs should not be treated as binding merely because it is rooted in traditions or customs regarded as sacrosanct. One of the most cherished beliefs that the Western society had inherited was that the earth was in the centre of the universe. However, the geocentric view never passed the empirical test. In the late Middle Ages, Galileo was threatened by the all-powerful church to either re-affirm the geocentric view or face death. Although Galileo acted upon the maxim that discretion is the better part of valour, eventually it was the heliocentric view that came to prevail.

A scientist is always prepared to have his theories tested. In case of fresh evidence, which can’t be accounted for by the theory of the day crops up, it is the theory and not the evidence that is set aside. Such has been the prevailing attitude in developed societies. By contrast, in backward societies, it is the belief and not the evidence, which prevails as a matter of principle.

Scientific attitude gives rise to individualism. If long-held traditions can be questioned, the claim of the group – clan, tribe, society – as their repository to be always right can also be. Individualism, contrary to what is popularly believed in our part of the world, does not mean letting everyone do what they want; it means giving individuals the right to think and decide for themselves. In modern states, the individual’s freedom of conscience, expression, association, movement and profession are regarded as fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution viz-a-viz both society and the government. Individualism also forms the basis of democracy, where public offices are open to all and where every vote counts equally.

The right of the individual to economic initiative played an important role in the growth of capitalism and the accompanying technological and economic development. As one economist puts it, “high need achievement, high need autonomy, and high need dominance” are essential features of an industrialised society. The value of the individual is determined by the status he or she acquires by dint of his or her hard work rather than by the status ascribed at birth. Venues of social mobility – both upward and downward – are wide open, resulting in the circulation of the elite.

By contrast, societies which look upon individualism as dangerous and seek to suppress it either through the state machinery or through collective action – such as a mob – find it exceedingly difficult to break the shackles of underdevelopment. One of the changes that economic development entails is displacement of the existing elite – the landed gentry, the clergy, etc. To safeguard their position, the elite use the dominant narrative to silence dissenting voices.

Development necessitates changes in the family structure as well. Since the joint family system stifles individual initiative, nucleus family becomes the dominant form of family organisation. With women increasingly joining the workforce, decision-making in the family becomes more democratic. Family planning gains wide acceptance and birth rate comes down. In many under-developed societies, social norms do not approve of changes in the traditional family organisation, which runs counter to development efforts.

Development is not without its costs. It has winners as well as losers. But a society that regards economic progress as a goal worth pursuing must be willing to pay the necessary costs whether they are in the form of changes in family organisation, circulation of the elite or transvaluation of the most cherished values.

The problem with developing countries like Pakistan is that they are keen to emulate the attractive lifestyle of developed nations – driving in luxury automobiles, flying in jets and living in centrally air-conditioned houses – but are not willing to open their culture to changes that have made that lifestyle possible.

One outcome of this cultural contradiction is that they become a consumption-oriented society, which time and again has to borrow from the developed nations, whose values they otherwise assail.

By: Zahid Hussain

mail: hussainhzaidi@gmail.com


Essay#4: The Incivility and Unsocial Behavior on Social Media | Complete Essay

The Incivility & Unsocial Behavior on Social Media

By: Dr Waheed Asghar (CSP)

The advent of social media has revolutionized the modern-day means of communication. Facebook, Twitter along with blogging sites have provided us with new avenues to communicate and disseminate our views and thoughts to a larger audience that was once a prerogative of politicians and journalists only. These blogs and forums, commonly referred to as “Social Media”, when hit the internet world; they became the voice of public within no time. The primary reason behind the immense popularity and surge of the social media was that both electronic and print media – newspapers, radio and TV channels – failed to give due space to voices who dissented the authorities or governments. It befuddled many governments and societies through its community-building capacity.

 Note: The essay includes some old statistics/events/dates so please update these as per current scenario. Also since the mode of Social Media has changed a lot so add new examples and instances accordingly.

However, as true with other scientific inventions, poor and irresponsible use of social media in our society has turned it into a bane rather than a boon for our social values. Civility is being ebbed away as ‘Unsocial attitudes’ of so-called warriors on social media are infecting our moral values. Social Media abounds with fake profiles which are involved in spreading misinformation and levelling false and often unfounded accusations against popular leaders, journalists, public figures and even civil servants. This dilemma reveals that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) is incapable of checking this misuse of technology. Do we need to learn to live with this idiocy and senselessness? This remains a burning question for all the concerned and responsible citizens, social scientists and thinkers. As far as our government is concerned, the main concern for it is to decide whether it should also take the lead of Gulf governments by penalizing the people behind these fake IDs for these clear acts of slander and defamation or not?

Before this social media crept into our lives, people used various means of communication but all of those were different in their nature and in their respective impacts on society. Means of communication used prior to the advent of social media were direct in nature as the parties involved in communication knew each other and there was no scope of anonymity involved anywhere. Because the identities were known to everyone, it was important for everyone to remain within limits of civility. In case of political debates, our leaders, writers, columnists and political analysts used to express their opinion and dissent through newspapers and readers could comment on those views through letters to the editor. The newspapers kept a check on the views expressed by general masses through their editorial policy. Social media removed these barriers and gave people direct access to such forums where there were no explicit checks. By making wrong use of right to free speech, they started enjoying unbridled power and passing comments and expressing opinions about their leaders, public figures and celebrities. The very nature of social media is such that imposing checks and applying filters in order to assess the veracity of opinions is almost impossible.

This new and greater access, no doubt, led to empowerment of people where everyone had equal access to show his/her sentiments and opinions. The main intent behind the progression of social media was to provide people with such forums where they could express their ideas and opinions with a relative ease and freedom. It also meant that the ones who used to sway the public opinion could no longer assert their views with impunity without being challenged by their audience. It made all public statements issued by political leaders, observations and rulings of the courts, columns as well as comments from journalists and news-anchors subject to instant criticism by an active audience at social media.

This vibrant new society surprised everyone with the power of community-building by organizing people with different races and communities under one common cause. Its greatest manifestation was the Arab Spring where dissenting youth used Twitter and Facebook to unite the like-minded people and to quickly disseminate information in order to plan and organize massive countrywide protests. Even autocratic governments in Gulf had to give in to the pressure of protestors demanding change.

Social media also filled in the vacuum of electronic media where, for vested interests or want of commercial value, the latter ignored just voices of the aggrieved and dejected people. This aspect became evident in Shahzeb murder case from Karachi where electronic media didn’t highlight this issue until a massive movement started on social media. It built so much pressure that the apex court had to intervene and suspects were brought to the book.

Where this emergence of powerful social media proved panacea for many ills, it has created bigger problems than those it had solved. Without going into the details of how social media has affected our relationships and how wasting billions of hours purposelessly on social media has made us actually antisocial, let’s examine its impacts on our socio-political lives.

The biggest problem with social media is that anyone can say anything to any audience irrespective of the basic norms which ought to be followed while speaking or commenting in public. Ours is a society where dissent is not encouraged in any institution and where argumentation is limited to debate competition on annual functions. Majority of population gets no training as to what should be the conduct during a public debate. In such a scenario, getting unbridled power of indulging in debate and expressing opinions is playing havoc with the moral and social ethos of our society.

Couple this fact with the kind of argumentation we witness every evening on mushrooming commercial current affairs programmes on news channels. Our leaders, unfortunately, are made to demonize each other in these programmes like an act. Ironically, at the end of programme, they greet each other and move to another channel for the similar act. All this nonsense has crept into minds of our untrained youth equipped with keyboards and modem. With such intellectual pollution constantly fed to them, all they learn is inept arguing and incivility which they reflect while interacting on social media.

The most dangerous aspect of this issue is the ability to hide one’s identity and pretend to pose as one likes. It doesn’t require any identity except an email which may well be a fake one. Thus, you can be anyone from Roger Federer to Imran Khan, and from Nawaz Sharif to the Chief Secretary of a province. From these foundations, emerges the anonymity and mob-mentality where one gets into a position to bash anyone as one likes without a slightest fear of one’s real identity being disclosed.

Because there is no effective control mechanism devised by regulatory bodies, what we find on social media is an educated but abusively aggressive youth. They would vehemently tongue-lash anyone they dislike ignoring the civilized limits. Many politicians, sportsmen and journalists face the wrath of these Keyboard Jihadists who believe they are the beacons of moral values, and rationalize coming down hard on any famous person.

Unfortunately, most of the political parties have hired these Tech-warriors in order to wage a ‘war’ against their opponents. The weapon of this war is propaganda by disseminating misinformation and levelling false accusations against opponents. These social media warriors or e-brigades have become a nuisance for the society as many politicians and journalists find themselves in an embarrassing situation due to “unsocial campaigns” and they have no option but to issue clarifications and tender apologies for no fault of theirs.

The height of this nonsense was observed during the General Elections 2013. Some techno-jingoists used every unfair means to propagate for their parties. But ironically, majority of such campaigns were based on falsehood, fabricated videos, half-truths and fake accounts. From these fake profiles of renowned scholars and leaders, they issued statements in favour of their parties. Ironically, their slogan was ‘free and fair’ elections. Election results came as a surprise for many; more so for these e-superheroes. Driven by rigging complaints in a few constituencies, these warriors created a chaotic atmosphere trying to sabotage the whole process.

This growing peril demands a swift action from those at the helm of affairs as well as from civil society. Surely, a crackdown against social media, like in case of YouTube, won’t be a wise option. Unlike Gulf States, where courts have sentenced people for dissent on social media, we need a crackdown against these fake profiles. Facebook and Twitter may be asked to link user accounts on these sites to mobile numbers used in Pakistan by these users. It would remove the anonymity and facelessness from these warriors and at least they would realize that their real identities are known to everyone and they will have to face the music for their ‘shares’.

All the political parties and their leadership should tighten their filter against fake profiles and abusive posts. Political parties especially need to denounce and condemn in clear words any such e-Brigades that are tarnishing their names as well. It is their responsibility to cultivate in their workers a sense to abide by the moral and ethical values and societal norms while professing their political agendas. Moreover, as a society we need to teach our youth that argumentation doesn’t imply fighting rather it’s a constructive debate based on empirical evidence, objective analysis and logical reasoning. We also need to realize the implications of ‘sharing’ a post without checking its authenticity. Social media and internet are meant to be a boon. Let us not make it a bane for our society.


Essay#5: Honor crimes – Pakistan Status Quo | Complete Essay

honour killing complete essay - pakistan

It may be hot — swelteringly and terrifyingly hot — in most of the country, but the brisk business of killing women (and some men) in the name of honor continues apace. Some weeks ago, an angry man, mad at his sisters over some domestic dispute, began beating them with a stick. When his 100-year-old grandmother tried to intervene, he began to beat her too. Age is not a factor when it comes to male privilege; when he was done, the century-old grandmother, as well as one of his sisters, was dead. The other sister lay in critical condition in the hospital.

Take this month. On the very first day of May, a man shot his sister and her alleged paramour to death in Charsadda. In another incident, a young couple in Karachi set out to have dinner with the wife’s family. The two had married of their own will almost two years ago and her family had been upset about the relationship. When the two were returning from the dinner, unknown assailants stopped the rickshaw they were in (the husband was a rickshaw driver) and pumped their bodies with bullets. Both of them died.

In news reports, the police were waiting to contact someone in the husband’s family for filing the FIR because the wife’s family was believed to have been involved in the killing.

These are just the latest stories in Pakistan’s ongoing saga of women and some men being killed in the name of honor. Over the 70-something years for which Pakistan has existed, the country has been busy murdering its own, mostly women and some men, for the ‘crime’ of refusing marriage, imagined relationships in which accusations serve as an excuse for male rage, made-up relationships that assist in covering up crimes to get inheritances or do away with inconvenient neighbours.

 A demand can be made for a special investigation unit to probe the motivations behind ‘honour’ killings.

Just about every conflict lends itself to an honor killing, a cover via which the whole neighborhood and society claps for the killer and looks the other way as investigations languish and justice is shelved.

All this was supposed to have changed, at least a little bit when parliament passed an anti-honor killing law in 2016. By subjecting those who perpetrate ‘honour’ crimes to at least mandatory life sentences and not permitting the crime to be ‘forgiven’ by the family, it was believed that honor crimes would decrease or even end. The mechanism of collusion, in which family members commit such crimes and then are summarily ‘forgiven’ by other family members, would be done away with.

One hoped that a blow had also been dealt with the idea that a death can be permissible or ‘honourable’. Murder is always murder, and mandatory punishments were a way of underscoring this fact that seemed to be contested in Pakistan.

This hopeful experiment has failed. According to statistics maintained by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, 1,280 people have been murdered in honor crimes since the enactment of the law. Of these, for more than half no FIRs had been registered or there was no information. Obviously, cases in which no FIR is registered do not result in criminal prosecutions. In addition, according to the experts, these numbers, which are based on estimates from the news media and similar sources, are likely underreported. If the actual reported number of ‘honour’ killings is continuing at a furious rate, then the real number may have increased even more.

These cases do not even come within the purview of the new legislation, the purpose of which was to impose mandatory sentences in instances of ‘honour’ crimes. For this to happen, the case has to be classified as an ‘honour’ crime when it is being filed. If it is not classified as such, how can the sentence be applicable? The easy way out, then, is to simply insist that there was some other motivation for the crime.

The result is before us; ‘honour’ crimes (even those actually being classified as such) are continuing to take place. They are, in fact, likely increasing even if many FIRs make no mention of ‘honour’ as a motivation for the crime.

If the fight against honour crimes is real, and Pakistanis have not become so callous as to be completely immune to these reports — to the electrocuting of teenage couples, to the bullet-riddled bodies of dinner guests coming home, to the burned and charred and strangled bodies of women — then a demand must be made for a special investigation unit that looks into the motivations of these killings.

The onus of ensuring that honor killings are actually classified as such and do not evade the mandatory punishment must be on law enforcement. If this is deemed unfeasible for reasons of cost, the time may have come when ‘forgiveness’ for murders is finally done away with. This would mean that all murders would be subject to mandatory sentences, a fact that would reduce not only ‘honour’ crimes but also the overall murder rate in the country as a whole.

Statutory legal systems such as the one in operation in Pakistan do not function well when there is a hodgepodge of rationales, the possibility of punishments that do not involve imprisonment, such as the payment of money or forgiveness, that render the current system handicapped. The only way to end this kind of crime, which kills scores in brutal ways within the country and allots Pakistan a reputation for misogyny and barbarity the world over, is to make sure that these steps are carried out, that laws that do not work are replaced with ones that do.

By Rafia Zakaria

The writer is an attorney teaching constitutional law.

rafia.zakria@gmail.com


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