NRO Debate Continues …

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

Duniya ki tareekh gawah hai,  adl bina jamhoor na hoga  

History bears witness,  there shall be no republic (democracy) without justice

-From Aitzaz Ahsan’s Poem “Kal, Aaj Aur Kal” – the anthem of Pakistan’s Lawyers’ Movement.  

“I am for the Law.  We wish for a republic of laws.”   John Adams- one of the founding fathers of the United States of America.

 “The first observation that I would like to make is this: You will no doubt agree with me that the first duty of a government is to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the State.”   Mahomed Ali Jinnah- our Quaid-e-Azam.

The decision on NRO was a historic one.   Based on the short order, however, a reasonable apprehension exists that by invoking articles 62-f and 227,  the Court has effectively brought into play dormant Islam-inspired clauses which shall further strengthen rightwing in Pakistan.   This apprehension is obviously not without merit.   Articles 4, 8 and 25 – 8 and 25 being fundamental rights which according to constitutional theory are supreme-  were much stronger clauses and the court did well to invoke these but this is where the court should have stopped.  Ofcourse this is entirely a conjecture without the detailed judgment.   That said the important thing is that the NRO has been reversed and it has strengthened democracy whether nay-sayers accept it or not.  The people need to see that the system works and punishes crooks no matter how powerful they are.  And there is no doubt that the Supreme Court should also take to task those holy cows that have run amok in the country but that will also happen in good time.  

Still one must consider why it is that a certain section of the Pakistani liberal intelligentsia who I often agree with on most things has been up in arms against the judgment.  I for one don’t understand why Asma Jahangir of all people is bringing up the issue of Islamic provisions, when the “Asma Jillani Case” which made her famous and which she makes a point to quote in her every television appearance made the Objectives Resolution the grundnorm of the Pakistani state, society and constitution?  This a good a decade and a half before General Zia inserted a mutilated version of the same as the “substantive part” of the constitution of Pakistan under 2-A.     Given that 62-f is General Zia’s doing but Article 227 was placed there by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s PPP through a unanimous vote on the Islamic constitution in 1973 that included NAP which considered itself the defender of left and secularism in Pakistan.   It is unfortunate but true that the so called “Islamic Provisions” have been part and parcel of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan’s salient features thanks to the party in power.

So the way out is not ignoring certain sections of the constitution and crying foul that the judiciary has used one kind of law over the other (though it is no doubt upsetting to me)  but to work to strengthen constitution and rule of law so that an elected legislature tomorrow may undo what has been done in the past.   It certainly does not help that people like Dr. Ayesha Siddiqua have tried to reduce the issue to liberal and conservative divide and in her more recent column has had the audacity to argue that those applauding the judgment are all narrow nationalists who have it in for President Asif Ali Zardari.   This after she failed to even articulate a single sentence when questioned about her article on a live TV show on Duniya TV.

Such sham arguments and shamelessness might win some people brownie points somewhere,   but in the longer run it discredits forces of liberalism in Pakistan, especially when most liberals are not aligned with these few self appointed spokespersons for liberal thought.   Only by treading the straight and narrow constitutional path – based on rule of law, equality of citizenship and the principle that justice is blind-  will Pakistan one day emerge as a progressive democratic state.   Remember the hold of religion on a democratic constitutional society can at best only be temporary for procedure and man-made constitutions have often trumped priests with a divine mission.  So it shall be in Pakistan as well, for the final chapter of our history is not yet written.

13 Comments

Filed under Jinnah's Pakistan, Justice, Pakistan

13 responses to “NRO Debate Continues …

  1. yasserlatifhamdani

    Adl hua to des hamara kabhi bhee chakna choor na hoga….

  2. Milind Kher

    There is a hadith that says that God will allow the rule of a non believer to sustain if it is a just rule, but will destroy the rule of a Muslim if it is unjust.

    Justice is critical for an administration and a nation to flourish.

  3. yasserlatifhamdani

    It is actually Hazrat Ali AS’s saying… that a Kafir Government can exist but an unjust government can’t.

  4. Milind Kher

    You are right. For us, the sayings of the aimma are also treated as ahadith.

    I am glad that you added the appellation AS after his name when responding to me. Very thoughtful of you, and I appreciate your gesture.

  5. PM

    YLH
    In my opinion, you have made a good case for justice on constitutional basis. The liberals in media have done great damage to their cause by their spin.
    I would submit that by firmly rejecting NRO, the courts are providing additional protection to minorities by affirming equality before law.
    Liberal voices in media represent the rich liberal elite who have most to lose by court action. Loan recoveries are going to further hurt them. Has anybody analyzed why parliament failed to support NRO?

    If this court decision is considered controversial, wait till issues related to taxation of income and wealth come to fore. You know indirect taxation is regressive and elite is not willing to pay direct tax on their income. Also, minorities are exempt from Zakat. It would be fun discussing all those things.

  6. Bloody Civilian

    wait till issues related to taxation of income and wealth come to fore

    why not have the SC give us the budget every year, instead of the ministry of finance.😉

  7. PM

    Bloody Civilian
    Taxation is a political question and it has not been properly aired.

  8. Nadeem

    NRO was negotiated, signed and issued by a man in ‘uniform’, even after getting a verdict of ‘constitutionality’ from handpicked judges and a ‘rubber stamp’ parliament, he was an unconstitutional usurper. Any law signed by him is unconstitutional and all those who declared him constitutional are criminals under constitution of Pakistan.

    1. Can anybody with sound mind judge the constitutionality of a law issued by a man in uniform?
    2.Should not constitution apply on ‘court’ itself before applying on others selectively?
    3. If a strict application of constitution and I agree with you it should, would not put Chief Justice on trial for validating martial law and taking oath under LFO?
    4. Do SC posses the powers to give another 120 days life to a law which has already been expired? And under what provisions or constitution or legal precedents?

    I hope your answer is backed by constitution and law and not mere emotional rhetoric.

  9. yasserlatifhamdani

    Nadeem,

    Pakistan’s salvation lies in declaring every law and constitutional amendment and validating act pertaining to the period 1977-1988 and 1999-2007 invalid….

    Once this is done, Pakistan will return to being a democratic country… under the constitution of 1973.

  10. curiousme

    i would just like to knwo though unrelated to teh above post that are YLH and yasserlatifhamdani the same person

  11. Mustafa Shaban

    @YLH: Hazrat Ali (A.S) saying is very relevant in the Islamic world today, people need to understand that humanity is the most important part of Islam and that tyranny is simply not acceptable whether it is of muslim or christain.

  12. vajra

    @curiousme

    Many of us suspect that it is, but no proof is available. In the meantime, we watch the writings of both like hawks.

    If you spot anything, do publish the news.

  13. Natasha

    A classic example of ‘rang mein bhhang dalna’ by the ladies.