Visiting an acquaintance in Islamabad’s F10 Sector, I noticed that the street entrance had a barrier manned by a private security guard. I mentioned the fact to my host and was told that the residents of the sector had installed the barrier and hired a security company to man it on the advice of the police, who had expressed their inability to protect the residents against crime. I could not believe my ears as this particular street is situated in close proximity of the police station and even if it wasn’t, it was the sworn duty of the Government and its law enforcement agencies to protect the citizens. If the motivation for setting up the barrier and private security guards was indeed true then this was nothing short of admitting that the State had totally lost its writ and we had crossed the threshold into anarchy.

There was a time when courts were considered an asylum, but not anymore. Repeated cases of full scale battles between opposing groups within the judicial premises has become an everyday affair leaving open the question as to where those without the power of the gun can find succor. How can individuals armed with automatic weapons enter the compound is a matter of shame for the police – but shame is a word that has been obliterated from the police vocabulary.

People now break the law with impunity because they know there will be no consequences if they do so. The result is that daylight robberies and hold ups in full public view have become common practice. Vehicles with dark window shades, no number plates or non-regulated ones, ply the roads with arrogance bordering on contempt for the law. While order is crumbling everywhere around them, it seems law enforcement personnel stand around chatting and exchanging high fives with one another.

Traffic violations have increased in a manner never before seen. The federal Capital once known for its no nonsense traffic regulations, is now as poorly managed as the rest of the country. Statistics from Karachi reveal the abysmal fact that there is one policeman for every twelve hundred citizens. Take other metro population centers of Pakistan, where traffic police disappears from the roads on VVIP movement duty as a stark message that the life and security of one VVIP carries more weight than the many whose votes have brought this person into power.

I have stopped visiting Government Offices because in 95 percent of the cases, nothing moves unless money changes hands. The case of a distant relative is one example: A young man, he pays his taxes and refuses to grease palms with the result that every other day he is beset by functionaries and barriers, all of which will magically disappear if he joins the bandwagon of businessmen who share their wealth with unscrupulous officials.

Every six months or so, the Government appears to be jostled awake, thanks to the hue and cry in the media, and swiftly announces that it is launching a drive against this or that. These drives are nothing short of mocking the system as they amount to the confession that the authorities concerned have not been able to carry out routine governance effectively, on a day to day basis.

The large fraternity of inspectors - from the one who inspects buildings to the one who gorges himself on free meals in restaurants and the unending list in between, is obscenely corrupt and their misgivings are protected. It is a similar story with linemen and staff within offices of utility service providers. I know of a community, which has gifted its lineman with transport only to make sure that he responds to their calls for help in time.

All said and done, the ‘Land of the Pure’ is tottering under the weight of inept rule and people who epitomize the lack of will to reform themselves. What we need is the ruthless enforcement of law without any discrimination – an enforcement that will not give in under pressure from quarters, or take refuge under the guise of human rights or the violation of democratic principles. And we must have this enforcement now, or never.

 The writer is a freelance columnist.