Raza Habib Raja has authored this exclusive post for PTH. We welcome his original thoughts and courage to express them. Raza Rumi
I have often been much more amazed not at the religious fanaticism of the few, but at passivity of the moderate majority. And although skeptics will cast their doubt but the fact is that Pakistan on the whole has a moderate population, particularly when compared to countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia etc, where large sections of population are thoroughly radicalized. In Pakistan comparable fervour is dominant only in pockets. Yes this is a country which has Taliban but it is also a country where people have largely voted for PPP and PML (N) (which is a moderate conservative political party). This is a country which despite being conservative has never voted clergy into power. It has a relatively independent media and entertainment avenues are more eclectic compared to aforementioned Islamic countries.
And yet this is the also the same country which through legislation declared Ahmadis Non Muslims and that too during the tenor of ZAB, arguably the most intelligent and liberal Prime Minister. And mind you PPP did not originally have any such agenda item in its manifesto. Moreover, Hadood and blasphemy laws are solidly entrenched despite the fact that these were not enacted through a proper legislative procedure. Today parties are reluctant to even debate these controversial legislation[s] despite the obvious fact that these are in contravention of the modern day ideals of human rights. Due to these black laws, the religious extremism and discrimination have been institutionalized and Pakistan has become extremely controversial in the international arena. Despite the enormous negative publicity and being in the watch list of various human rights organizations, there is hardly any concrete debate in Pakistan on the mainstream media and legislative forums to repeal these laws. No political party wants to be the political casualty even if it can muster the two third majority. And this is happening in a country where clergy are regularly outvoted by huge margins. Continue reading
Pakistan has crossed a major milestone last week by achieving a historic consensus on the 18th Amendment with 105 clauses, additions and deletions to the Constitution. The distortions inserted by the military rule have been done away with. Political elites this time, however, have gone a step further and improved the state of provincial autonomy. Perhaps this is where a civilian negotiation and democratic politics of compromise has been most effective. Who would have thought a few years ago that this was achievable? There were many skeptics who thought that the amendments might not be approved. However, the ‘corrupt’ and ‘incompetent’ politicians have proved everyone wrong.
Leaving aside the discourse of corruption, the NRO, and a vociferous media campaign against the President, the achievements in the last one-year by all political parties have been tremendous. The Awami National Party, after its initial truce with the militants, has stayed the course and resisted Talibanisation by giving full support to the army operations against the militants. The PPP and PML-N, despite their rhetoric and political point-scoring, have worked together on the national finance commission award (NFC) and now on the implementation of the Charter of Democracy (CoD) that has become the basis for the amendments to become a reality.
The nay-sayers of democracy and the political process forget one fundamental fact: a federal structure cannot work without a robust political process. A start has been made through the recent successes after a decade of ‘controlled democracy’. However, despite the march towards the democratic ideal, there are clear and present dangers that democracy is as fragile as ever. Continue reading
Raza Rumi (Published in Tehelka)
AFTER 37 YEARS OF POLITICAL UNCERTAINTY, PAKISTAN’S CONSTITUTION HAS BEEN RECAST ON ZARDARI’S WATCH. WILL IT HELP REKINDLE DEMOCRACY, WONDERS RAZA RUMI
BRANDED A ‘failed state’, Pakistan has become notorious in the global media. Political change is often a result of the notorious 111 Brigade (the Rawalpindi-based army contingent which leads any military coup) moving on the streets of Islamabad and capturing the derelict PTV (Pakistan Television) headquarters. News-worthiness is defined by the number of suicide blasts that take place in a single day within what has been termed as the “most dangerous country” in the world. Pity that such stereotypes have prevented a nuanced understanding of Pakistan, as well as the fact that it is a fast changing country with a strong yearning for the rule of law and constitutionalism. (Photo: AFP)
These days, Pakistanis, when they are on a break from the next suicide bomber, are rejoicing over a major political shift brought about by the April 8 approval by parliament of the 18th Amendment to fix the truncated Constitution. Thirty seven years ago, for the first time in its existence, Pakistan’s political elite was able to reach a consensus on the scheme and shape of the Constitution. An earlier version was the 1956 Constitution, which was abrogated even before its implementation by Field Marshal Ayub Khan in 1958. There were two other military “gifts” to the nation in 1962 and 1970, which were hardly democratic and barely representative of what citizens actually wanted. Continue reading
Daily Dawn Editorial, Published April 09, 2010
They’ve done it. Proving all the naysayers wrong, dismissing all the conspiracy theorists, rejecting all those who would be spoilers, the National Assembly of Pakistan has approved a constitution that for the first time in decades will have the broad support of the people’s elected representatives.
Such was the bonhomie in the house yesterday that regular watchers of parliament may have rubbed their eyes in disbelief: was that really Chaudhry Nisar, leader of the opposition, the PML-N attacker-in-chief, a seemingly perennially angry man, praising the PPP co-chairman, President Asif Ali Zardari? Yes, it was. It was that kind of a day. A historic day in Pakistan’s parliamentary history, one that the MNAs deserve a heartfelt thanks for.
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
Qazi Anwar is an ANP Stalwart!
I write as a confirmed middle classia who has voted in two general elections for two different losing PPP candidates.
Something interesting happened today. Something shocked me greatly- so much that I shot up and rubbed my eyes to see whether I was asleep. But before I come to it let me give you the context.
Eversince the PPP got into an alliance with its historical foe ANP from NWFP, we have seen the emergence of a new kind of a self styled PPP worker. This PPP worker is virtually indistinguishable from an ANP worker on certain key stances which are: Continue reading
Nawaz Sharif has dropped a bombshell on the country’s expectations with his news conference yesterday. It was a most thoughtless and insensitive step by Pakistan’s “most popular” politician. His party had agreed to the method of judges’ appointment and it was said that he had agreed to the re-naming of Pakhtunkhwa as well. So this is a major surprise. One had hoped that as the leader from the biggest province and country’s ethnic majority, he would have been more mindful of his responsibility. Nawaz Sharif is protecting General Zia’s legacy when he should have taken a lead in undoing it and thereby atoning for his sins. In doing so, he would have also dealt a crushing blow to the number one issue around which Pushtun Nationalists have mobilized. But it was not to be. This is a rather bleak moment in our already patchy history. -YLH
PRESS GALLERY: Sharifs unveil ‘Punjab Card’ to prolong zero-sum game
By Saeed Minhas
ISLAMABAD: With the Sharifs unveiling their ‘Punjab Card’, Maulana Diesel trying to get even with the government, ‘Bhai logs’ of Karachi going into a pensive mood and nationalists getting a hint coupled with the success of the Kiyani-Qureshi-led strategic dialogues in the US, an under-siege government is likely to find more bumpy roads ahead. Continue reading