A continuation from “Was Jinnah secular?” and “Did Jinnah want Pakistan?”.
By Yasser Latif Hamdani
There are many people who criticize Jinnah – quite incorrectly in my opinion- of having laid the foundations for subsequent periods of authoritarian military rule. They allege that Jinnah’s decision to become the Governor General was the first blow to parliamentary democracy in Pakistan. Unable to distinguish the argument of constitutional purists pleading the ceremonial and executive roles of president and prime minister i.e. head of state and head of government from that of democratic argument about the sovereignty of parliament, these authors etc make the fatal error of not making an effort in understanding both the constitution in place and the environment under which Jinnah exercised his constitutional authority. By confusing the two, they make a mockery not just of the latter issue, but history itself. In the process they end up abusing the one person in Pakistan’s history who can truly be called a liberal democrat in every sense of the word. Continue reading
Posted by Raza Rumi
What an incredible achievement by Pakistan’s politicians, comparable to the historic national consensus reached in 1973 under the leadership of Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto when Pakistan’s Islamic, Federal and democratic constitution was voted in. Now 37-years after that, Pakistan’s politicians have done the entire nation proud once again, this time under the leadership of President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani, by adopting 18th Amendment to the same Constitution by the same or higher degree of consensus (when all political parties, small or big, provincial or national, bar none) have come together. These leaders have decided to do away the massive damage done to the constitution (and the national fabric) by military dictators over the years – by Zia and Musharraf. In one sweeping motion, with more than 100 changes in different articles of the constitution, most of the original spirit embodying the parliamentary and federal structure of the constitution is being restored. The biggest change is in granting of long-delayed provincial autonomy by abolishing the Concurrent List as was demanded by the smaller provinces and in renaming NWFP as Khyber Pakhtoonkhawa, thus restoring the Pakhtoon (or the Pathan) identity of the Frontier province after 250-years of its desecration begun by the British and perpetuated by Pakistan’s military-dominated establishment. The Concurrent List should have been abolished by 1983 under the 1973 Constitution but it took 27 additional years.
Congratulations to all. Pakistan would be a stronger, prosperous and more stable a country as a result of what happened today. Continue reading
The recent national backlash against his statement on Taliban should be an eye-opener for Shahbaz Sharif, who really ought to be above such rightwing pandering. Not long ago, I saw him speak in person on his vision of Punjab and I wonder how this statement gels with his vision for Punjab. Does he want Punjab to be labelled a pro-taliban, pro-terrorist hub? What is more is that by asking the Taliban to spare Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif has inadvertently stabbed all the Pakistanis fighting a dire battle against the Taliban from Khyber to Karachi. He has also strengthened those who accuse PML-N and the Punjab of fostering pro-fundamentalist tendencies. Continue reading
Adnan Rehmat writes in The News
Taking a close look at a city is like reading the hopes, aspirations and pride of everyone who built it. Take a close look at Islamabad in all its pompous perplexity and clinical contradictions and not much popular ownership is apparent. Not that it prevents it from boasting a large number of peculiar characteristics even though these never show up in tourist brochures. It is, for instance, the ‘newest’ proper city in the country, the ‘newest’ city of Pakistan with a population of a million or more (the eighth in the country now) and even the ‘newest’ city in Asia that is also the capital of a country. Cynics could also emphasise Islamabad is the newest capital of Pakistan! (Karachi was the last, remember, anyone?) And, in this fact, emerges a side to the city that is debated little. Continue reading
(On our 62nd Independence Day, let us as a federation look also to the plight of those who we have alienated from the federation. Thank you RED DIARY for bringing this to our attention.-YLH)
By Karlos Zurutuza
Translated from the Spanish original by Daisann McLane
A woman walks slowly across the Dera Bugti desert, laden with wood for her cooking fire. She’s headed towards the town of Pir Koh. For several hundred meters, she follows the gas pipeline that extends north, towards the Punjab. She got lucky; it isn’t easy to find wood in the Dera Bugti desert. Islamabad also got lucky when it discovered natural gas beneath this rocky landscape. Thanks to the gas deposits, the Punjabis have been cooking, heating their houses in winter and producing electricity for half a century. But natural gas has yet to arrive in Pir Koh. Continue reading
By Ahmad Rafay Aam
The prime minister has announced that the local government elections have been postponed indefinitely because of the security situation. Not content with using the security situation as the excuse to deprive citizens of their rightful public spaces, the government has employed it to adjourn, sine die, the democratic process.
It is ironic that a democratically elected government has chosen to postpone an election. Is Democracy no longer The Best Revenge? Continue reading
Zafar Hilaly (NEWS)
The ongoing auction for votes in the Punjab Provincial Assembly, so soon after the restoration of the judges, is further proof that the federation is dysfunctional.
As the politicians squabble, officials disobey “illegal” orders and soldiers refuse to take on fellow Muslims in the borderlands (curiously, no such hesitancy was evident in East Pakistan). The refusal by some brigadiers to obey orders to fire on an opposition crowd in Lahore in 1977 was a trendsetter; earlier the police strike in Lahore continued this trend and last week’s defiance of the police to arrest or confine opposition politicians, again in Lahore, suggests that what is presently an infection may become a contagion. Politicians should pause to ponder the consequences of promoting indiscipline and brazen flouting of authority. Continue reading