The verdict is in. And it does not look good. Ten years of uninterrupted democracy have not quite given way to strides of anticipated progress. Far from it. For according to the World Justice Project’s (WJP) Rule of Law Index 2017-18, Pakistan has a global ranking of 105 out of 113 nations; and an overall regional score of 5 out of 6. In other words, the country sits perilously close to the bottom of the class. The non-profit WJP defines the rule of law as occurring when the following four so-called universal principles are upheld: “government officials and private persons are held accountable under the law; the laws are clear, publicised, stable and fair, and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property; the process by which the laws are enacted, administered, and enforced is accessible, efficient, and fair; justice is delivered by competent, ethical, and independent representatives and neutrals who are of sufficient number, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.” When outlined thus, it is not hard to understand Pakistan’s terribly poor score. Yet where the country truly lets itself down is on the Order and Security front. This represents one of eight assessment factors and hinges on the absence of crime, civil conflict and violent redress. Here, Pakistan ‘boasts’ a global ranking of 113. It does not get worse than this. Not least because this naturally places it behind Afghanistan; a nation that has been living under an internationalised uncivil war for close to two decades. That is, under a foreign military occupation that has only exacerbated the security situation. All of which may or may not raise important questions regarding the efficacy of the numerous Army operations that have taken place within this country’s borders. Similarly, the state apparatus may wish to rethink its status as the world’s ninth largest arms importer. For bluntly put, Pakistan faces far more than an external existential threat. The country also has poor results on the Civil Justice front. The latter is determined by factors such as accessibility and affordability; absence of discrimination, corruption, improper government influence and unreasonable delay; presence of effective enforcement; effective, impartial and accessible alternate dispute resolution mechanisms. Here, Pakistan’ global ranking is a worrying 107. Yet where there is even more cause for alarm is on the regional index, which places it as the last of 6. Meaning that once again, it lags behind Afghanistan; which pockets a score of 4. To be clear, our dismay is not intended as a mark of disrespect towards our western neighbour. Rather, it is directed at a state apparatus at home that holds an advantage over Kabul when it comes to building and strengthening national institutions, yet has failed to consolidate these. This naturally is a question for the right honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan; a man who is often found doing the job of the government when it comes to lamenting the rising cost of everyday foodstuffs or the imminent water emergency confronting this country. It may or may not be the time for the top judge in the land to turn his wayward attention towards the deliverance of justice for the common (wo)man. While the WJP index serves as an important reminder to governments to pull their socks up when it comes to upholding the rule of law — we, here in Pakistan, have our doubts as to the impartiality of methodology used. Given that in certain categories this country sits just ahead of and, at times, lags verily behind Afghanistan. A country over which the Kabul government has, for the most part, no writ. Which naturally raises the question of whether or not it even fulfils the criterion of statehood. In other words, as far as this index goes: we are not buying it. * Published in Daily Times, June 27th 2018.