If the parliament and judiciary want to continue exercising their newfound powers, they have no option but to act strictly within the framework of the Pakistani Constitution
Pakistan is a surreal country. Only here we have long, protracted struggles for democracy and only here we are almost always ready to scuttle democracy. Perhaps Iskander Mirza was not all too wrong while making the assessment that democracy does not suit the genius of our people. An added qualification is that it does not suit the genius of the elites, in particular the unelected institutions of the state.
There is now a clear and present danger that the judicial review of the 18th Amendment will lead to a potential clash of the key organs of the state: the legislature and the judiciary. Pundits have also predicted that if such a situation arises, then a logjam will benefit the third force — Pakistan’s well organized formal institution, which is readily available to undertake crisis management. Perhaps such fears are slightly exaggerated and misplaced. But the reality is that Pakistani history teaches us some interesting though unsavoury lessons.
Curse of history
The Constitution of 1956 was drafted, almost after a decade of the new country’s formation, as the elites were not interested in changing the colonial structure of the state and its institutions. After much negotiation and a bit of arm-twisting, parity between the Eastern and the Western wings was achieved to finalise the basic law. However, the 1956 Constitution could not be enforced let alone implemented, as new elections were a risk for the national security establishment, which took charge of the country in 1958. The second moment arrived in 1970, when a political consensus arrived through election with divisive results, was once again scuttled by the unelected institutions and the West Pakistani elites. The results were tragic. 1977 was a third moment when the Bhutto administration and PNA movement agreed on a workable package for the future course of politics in the country. Even before this accord could reach the public domain, the Islamo-fascist General took the reins of power and thwarted the political consensus. There is a clear lesson here: a political consensus — wide-ranging, legitimate and inclusive — is a threat to the post-colonial state and the inherent contradictions of the Pakistani polity come into play the moment such compacts are arrived at. Continue reading
Filed under Constitution, human rights, Judiciary, Justice, Law, lawyers movement, Media, minorities, Pakistan, Politics, public policy, Rights, secular Pakistan, Society, state
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. Continue reading
by Yasser Latif Hamdani
Daily Times has commissioned a 7 part series from the former Governor of Punjab Shahid Hamid, the first part of which appears in today’s paper. It is about time we revisited this document and had a debate on it. So it is most welcome but perhaps choosing a former civil servant, cabinet minister and the governor of Punjab, hence an entrenched establishment man steeped in state-mythology, was not a very good idea. Here is an excerpt from the article: Continue reading
[TFT] A partisan media is biting the hand of democracy that feeds it, says Raza Rumi
It was hoped by many that the electronic media following its exponential growth during the last few years would take stock of its roles and responsibilities. However, the years 2007 and 2008 were not the best of times for such an introspection to materialise into a self-regulation process. Authoritarian or transitional environments are not conducive to a culture of informed debate and the evolution of sound regulatory regimes. Nevertheless, there have been scattered noises and appeals by many observers, analysts and concerned citizens even within the media community.
From the brutality of displaying dismembered limbs on television screens to creating a panic-oriented news culture and relegating the status of objective ‘anchors’ to partisan political players, the trends were and continue to be, disturbing. Against the backdrop of the events of March 2009 the role of the electronic media was far from gratifying. The self congratulatory hysteria that now pervades the various channels betrays their utter inability to look back and introspect. Continue reading
From The Liberal
BY Simon Kovar
‘Inexplicability’ is the word attached by one historian to the communal bloodletting that accompanied the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947. The term suggests a certain exhaustion with an archive that paints a picture of what, in hindsight, appears to combine both political stupidity and popular barbarism. Continue reading