Dark Comedy

By YLH

Our bastion of justice, the Chief Justice of Pakistan, made yet another rather odd comment when he declared:

“The All India Muslim League adopted the Objectives Resolution in which apart from the basic Islamic principles the rights of minorities were also protected…this is even larger than a mere resolution,” the CJP observed.

For your information Mr. Chief Justice,  the Objectives Resolution was passed in March 1949 by the Pakistan Constituent Assembly.  All India Muslim League was dissolved in December 1947.    One would imagine that someone in your high office would know the difference and just for your information the only time anyone dared to bring something remotely similar to Objectives Resolution before the All India Muslim League, in 1943,  it was vehemently opposed by Jinnah who called it a “censure on every Leaguer”.

Now this explains Mr. Chief Justice’s earlier unfortunate comment about “secularism”. Perhaps the Chief Justice is unaware of the fact that the founding father had not only promised complete impartiality towards faith but had declared religion a personal matter.  He had repeatedly laid down that Pakistan would not be a theocracy to be run by priests with a divine mission.  In his 11th August speech, he harked back to examples from English history to make his point.    For many people, including this writer, this amounts to secularism.   But it is entirely possible Mr. Chief Justice that you are completely ignorant of all these facts, which is the real tragedy for this country.  

Now I have gone over this statement-quoted above- many times since I read it this morning.  That you are factually or historically wrong is beyond question. But is your obiter dicta then that any act or desire of the founding party or the founding father has over-riding legitimacy over all else? If this is the case, there are more than one resolutions – including the famous Lahore Resolution-  that have yet to be implemented in their spirit.  Or did you perhaps confuse Lahore Resolution with Objectives Resolution?

BTW here is another little historical tidbit for you.  Khawaja Haris of Punjab has been telling you that the current parliament lacks ability to amend the constitution because it was elected by only 43% of the electorate.   Before you get taken in by this brilliant argument,  you might want to look at the electorate numbers for Indian elections of 1946 that returned Congress and League to power and formed the basis of Pakistan.   Haris is a dangerous man.  Some of your colleagues have realized that.  The real question is not whether you have, but whether you can.

And here is the real answer:  Basic structure theory is inherently flawed and doubly so in Pakistan, where it derives its legitimacy from a document that was made substantive part of the constitution through the illegal act of a military dictator’s order. 

12 Comments

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12 responses to “Dark Comedy

  1. Honest piece…
    My stance on the whole restoration saga is known to you, Dont wanna repeat it. We might be wrong on the honorable Chief Justice ignorance of the very evident facts of history. But onething is for sure, he has his objectives set before him. The restoration has made him a player in the power structure and the whole judicial system is working like a political party, as we have earlier blamed Army for the same. The most dangerous thing is their alliance with the conservative elements, and the influece of religio political parties and its extensions in almost every institution.

  2. Hayyer

    Well, that takes courage-But is it the kind that gets awarded posthumously?
    Apropos of posts on the thread dealing with the liberal PTH website I would like to see some of our Indian paper warriors show even half the guts it must require to do something like this.

  3. Pingback: Good Morning: Sid Harth « News, Views and Reviews: Sid Harth

  4. Tilsim

    YLH was this comment by CJP made in the context of the deliberations around the 18th amendment?

    I have been reading the Dawn article today on the subject (see below). This suggests that Justice Javed Iqbal, Justice Saqib Nisar and Jusice Khoso may be in a different spot to CJP on the supremacy of parliament in the matter of appointment of Judges.

    http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/front-page/sc-questions-too-much-emphasis-on-objectives-resolution-580

    In this link, Justice Javed Iqbal seems to be questioning the import of the OR. Here is the relevant extract:
    “Whether parliament’s sovereignty and independence can be restricted on the basis of the Objectives Resolution (OR),” Justice Javed Iqbal observed. “Why everybody is emphasising too much on the OR,” he observed and recalled how it became difficult to achieve consensus at the time the resolution had been tabled before the first constituent assembly in March 1949.

    A member from the then East Pakistan had opposed it but Sardar Abdul Rab Nishtar and former prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan assured the members of the then assembly that the resolution was nothing more than a policy guideline and should not be considered as the very basis of the Constitution, Justice Iqbal said.

    He observed that the OR contained provisions which determined guidelines. Justice Iqbal then cited the example of the US where courts were completely independent but judges were appointed after an open debate in Senate. ”

    The Objectives Resolution, proclaims the following principles:

    1. Sovereignty belongs to Allah alone but He has delegated it to the State of Pakistan through its people to be exercised within the limits prescribed by Him as a sacred trust.

    2. The State shall exercise its powers and authority through the chosen representatives of the people.

    3. The principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice, as enunciated by Islam, shall be fully observed.

    4. Muslims shall be enabled to order their lives in the individual and collective spheres in accordance with the teachings of Islam as set out in the Qur’an and Sunnah.

    5. Adequate provision shall be made for the minorities to freely profess and practice their religions and develop their cultures.

    6. Pakistan shall be a federation.

    7. Fundamental rights shall be guaranteed.

    8. The judiciary shall be independent.

    As noted, the OR does state that an Independent Judiciary is a key objective. It does n’t follow that if elected representatives appoint judges, it somehow is not independent any more.

    The second question as you correctly point out is to what extent is the OR a holy grail or represents the basic structure of the constitution. The OR only became a substantive part of the constitution during Zia’s time in 1985. Zia was a military dictator and this act did not have the mandate of the people.

  5. Octavian

    One has only to refer to the resignation letter of J.N Mandal Pakistan’s first Minister of Law to realize how odious the Objective’s Resolution is to the vision of Jinnah.

    http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/columnists/19-ardeshir-cowasjee-not-the-voice-of-the-creator-250-hh-05

  6. YLH at his best!!

    Taking on the CJP is no small matter !

  7. Faisal Naseem Chaudhry

    You know what I immensely enjoyed in this piece “Haris is a dangerous man”.

  8. Sadia Hussain

    If only Pakistan could take some inspiration from Bangladesh and separate religion from politics and curb on rampant hate speech. These reforms are needed for a progressive, liberal Pakistan.

  9. Faisal Naseem Chaudhry

    @ sadia hussain “rampant hate speech” Justice Ramday an hour ago while thrashing MD WASA Islamabad called him “Idiot” in open court. Lets search for the Liberal Pakistan.

  10. Bin Ismail

    @ Tilsim (August 25, 2010 at 6:48 pm)

    “…..Liaquat Ali Khan assured the members of the then assembly that the resolution was nothing more than a policy guideline and should not be considered as the very basis of the Constitution…..”

    Unfortunately, Liaquat’s assurance could not last. The resolution, from being “nothing more than a policy guideline”, became the Preamble of the country’s constitution, a privilege it did not deserve was exalted to defining the “basic structure” of the constitution.

    If there is one text that qualifies serving as both Preamble and Basic Structure of the Constitution of Pakistan, it’s the text of Quaid-e Azam’s 11th August 1947 speech.

  11. Bin Ismail

    Corrigendum: Please read as:

    “The resolution, from being “nothing more than a policy guideline”, became the Preamble of the country’s constitution, a privilege it did not deserve [and] was exalted to [the text] defining the “basic structure” of the constitution.”

    My apologies for the typo omissions.