Faisal Naseem Chaudhry
The 18th Amendment case is likely to conclude soon and it is quite probable (courtesy of remarks of the Honourable Judges) that the SC may strike down a constitutional amendment finding it contrary to Independence of Judiciary; in other words finding it contrary to the ‘Basic Structure of the Constitution’.
Pasted below are some excerpts from a Five Member Bench Judgement of the SC delivered on 13 April 2005. The Judgement is known as Pakistan Lawyers Forum vs Federation of Pakistan and through this cluster of different petitions, the constitutionality of 17th Amendment was challenged before the SC. One of the grounds was that the 17th Amendment was violative of the Basic Structure of the constitution. As stated earlier, it was a Five Member bench and the then two members are still members of the Full Bench of today i.e. Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and Justice Javed Iqbal.
President Musharraf’s Uniform / Dual Office quite analogous to President Zardari’s Dual Office was also challenged in the same petition, and dismissed accordingly, but since that is not the subject today, so that part of SC’s wisdom as to how it handled that question in 2005 is ignored at this point of time to be discussed in future.
The five member bench in 2005 dismissed the petition and upheld the 17th Amendment. The court held that the Indian Doctrine of Basic Structure of the Constitution has never been accepted in Pakistan’s judicial history; and that the Court can strike down a Constitutional Provision only if it is not passed in accordance with the procedures provided by the Constitution itself. Once an amendment is passed, it is left to the wisdom of the Parliament which passed it to change it in future according to the aspirations of the people of Pakistan. Continue reading
This is an incisive article sent by Ms Taji M which raises several intelligent and debatable points. Right now we are witnessing a debate on need for reform in religion. This article provides a woman’s perspective and argues that due to orthodox and literal interpretation of religion women in our society are not getting a fair deal. We expect healthy debate on this article.
By Taji M
I have a friend, university educated, upper class, stylish and religious but not an extremist way. She is a on the whole a very sensible person. Over the years we have debated religion extensively; I have more reformist thoughts and she is more mainstream. She is of the firm belief that present orthodox version of Islam offers the best position for Muslim women; in one of our debates she said something like this “Look at me, I am much better off than the western women slaving away in offices and then scouting for boyfriends and eventual husbands. Before marriage my father took care of me, he treated me and my brothers equally. During his lifetime he divided the property between me and brothers and I ended up getting a larger share as I got a lot of gold in my jahez also. I got married without going through the humiliating boyfriend search, and now have a loving husband and two cute kids. I am a stay-at-home mom out of choice not due to my husband’s insistence. And the nice house we live in is in my name. I am protected under the safety of Islam which offers the best to all good women”.
She is not alone in coming to that conclusion, a large number of educated class Muslim women share this attitude. They have been convinced that they have gotten best deal possible. I have a problem with this belief though. And I have told her and other similar women, that their experience is not out of the fruits of orthodox version of religion, but of the good luck of being associated with decent men. In case of my friend, her father bypassed the law and divided his estate in his life time so that she won’t get half share later on. Her husband, a really nice guy, ensured her financial security by keeping the house in her name. Otherwise in case of widowhood, the wife gets one of the smallest shares, and if there is a divorce she gets nothing from the family wealth. Of course she gets the Meher, but how many women can survive for long on that amount. Continue reading
The recent decision of the Supreme Court to order closure of a multinational food chain restaurant in Islamabad is path-breaking
It has become a cliché to praise the Supreme Court of Pakistan these days. Clichéd, because many partisan agendas find resonance within the all-embracing spectrum of judicial activism. Those who have been critical of judges turning into activists must rethink their misgivings. While the dangers of such blanket approval of the workings of a state institution are apparent, it is still a welcome change in a country known for its culture of impunity. This is why the recent decision of the mighty Supreme Court to have ordered the closure of a multinational food chain restaurant in Islamabad’s ill-designed public park is path-breaking.
First of all, the fact that a municipal matter reached an overburdened superior court speaks much about the dysfunctional executive that manages our lives. That the court had the wisdom to uphold the rights of ordinary Islamabadites marks a new beginning which, if taken to its logical end, would mean that all public spaces in Pakistan should come under intense judicial scrutiny. Lastly, the court’s effort to enforce accountability could very well turn out to be a new beginning in our murky public affairs.
Effective municipal management requires that we revisit the urban governance frameworks that are now outdated to handle the population growth, changed needs of the population and dwindling state capacity to enforce regulations. Notwithstanding that Islamabad is fifteen kilometres away from the real Pakistan, the management practices are no different from the rest of the country. Essentially, the Islamabad saga reveals a case of serious governance failure. Continue reading
Posted by Raza Rumi
* Amendment to Article 6 seeks to pre-empt military coups in future
* Article 58(2b) to be repealed, substituted with ‘Dissolution of National Assembly’
* President may dissolve NA in case no-confidence vote passed against PM
* Total strength of cabinet should not exceed 11% of total membership of parliament
* Governor should be a resident and registered voter of his/her province, he/she would be appointed by president on prime minister’s advice
* Provinces required by law to establish local government systems, devolve political, administrative and financial responsibility and authority to elected representatives
* PM to be chairperson of CCI, members to include CMs, 3 members from federal govt
* Amendment to Article 157 says federal government must consult provincial government before installing hydroelectric power stations in any province
* PM to forward three names for office of CEC, in consultation with opposition leader in National Assembly, to a parliamentary committee for confirmation
* Committee proposes insertion of Article 175(a) to deal with appointment of judges to Supreme Court, high courts, Federal Shariat Court
* Committee proposes substitution of Article 243, says federal government ‘shall have control and command of armed forces, supreme command of armed forces shall [rest with] … president’
* President to appoint Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee chairman, chief of army staff, chief of naval staff, chief of air staff
* NWFP will be renamed ‘Khyber-Pakhtoonkhawah’
* State will provide free, compulsory education to children aged between 5 and 16 years 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