Archive for June, 2008

Pakistan: Supremacy of Constitution and Musharaf’s Trial

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I never been a law student, neither I happened to read “Constitution of Pakistan” nor I had any idea about what our Constitution is. This was until I heard our “populist leaders”, “ex-servicemen” and some “popular analysts” calling shots that Musharaf be trialed of high treason for abrogating the Constitution. Though I always believed and do believe in supremacy of law and also believe that a Constitution is the highest law of any state, but this made me a little curious to find out what makes a Constitution so important that a person can be trialed of high treason if he abrogates it.

Reading Constitution I find, a constitution is a codified written document that details the system of governance, establishes the rules and principles, it defines the duties, powers and procedures of a government, it also separates the power (generally) into three branches: executives, legislatives and judicial; important but not so important until I find it also guarantees the basic human rights to the people. Under the 1973 Constitution, Fundamental Rights include security of person, safeguards as to arrest and detention, prohibition of slavery and forced labor, freedom of movement, freedom of association, freedom of speech, freedom to profess religion and safeguards to religious institutions, non-discrimination in respect of access to public places and in service, preservation of language, script and culture. The judiciary enjoys full supremacy over the other organs of the State. Comparing constitution of Pakistan with constitutions of some other developed countries, I was gladly surprised to see that our constitution guarantees the same (or similar) rights to the people as constitutions of these developed countries do. And (sadly) still the fundamental human rights are widely violated in Pakistan.

Looking further, I also find that there have been 17 amendments in our constitution since it came into effect in 1973; Z.A. Bhutto (the founder of 1973 Constitution), General Zia, Nawaz Sharif and Pervez Musharaf all amended this constitution just to grab more power in their hands. They all distorted our constitution to become “democratic dictator” or to indemnify their “dictatorial actions”; none (or very few) of these amendments adds anything good for fundamental rights or for better governance.

Agreed that, as per constitution in effect now, anyone who has ever abrogated the constitution should be trialed for high treason.

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Article 6: High treason
(1) Any person who abrogates or attempts or conspires to abrogate, subverts or attempts or conspires to subvert the Constitution by use of force or show of force or by other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason.
(2) Any person aiding or abetting the acts mentioned in clause (1) shall likewise be guilty of high treason.
(3) Parliament shall by law provide for the punishment of persons found guilty of high treason.
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As per Article 6(1) both Musharaf and Zia should be trialed for high treason.
But then by Article 6(2), judges who validated 1977 Martial Law, 1999 and 2007 Emergency should also be trialed – this includes the icon of Justice CJ Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhary and others demanding the “rule of law”. Those Generals – who are so loud now a day and – who aided Zia and Musharaf should also be trialed; this includes so vocalist Gen. Chishti, Gen. Gulzar Kiyani, Gen. Durrani, Gen. Moin-u-din, Gen. Gul, Gen Baig and others. And how about those who were part of Zia and Musharaf’s regime and helped them to govern for years (like Nawaz Sharif, Ch. Shujahat)? Shouldn’t they also be trialed for high treason? If we want to set an example for future then all these should be trialed (not only Musharaf) under Article 6 or else it will only be“revenge” and not the accountability.

And then looking at the constitution I also find the following articles.

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Article 9: Security of Person
No person shall be deprived of life or liberty save in accordance with law.

Article 10. Safeguards as to arrest and detention.
(1) No person who is arrested shall be detained in custody without being informed, as soon as may be, of the grounds for such arrest, nor shall he be denied the right to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice.
(2) Every person who is arrested and detained in custody shall be produced before a magistrate within a period of twenty-four hours of such arrest, excluding the time necessary for the journey from the place of arrest to the court of the nearest magistrate, and no such person shall be detained in custody beyond the said period without the authority of a magistrate.

Article 11. Slavery, forced labour, etc. prohibited.
(1) Slavery is non-existent and forbidden and no law shall permit or facilitate its introduction into Pakistan in any form.
(2) All forms of forced labour and traffic in human beings are prohibited.
(3) No child below the age of fourteen years shall be engaged in any factory or mine or any other hazardous employment.

Article 14. Inviolability of dignity of man, etc.
(1) The dignity of man and, subject to law, the privacy of home, shall be inviolable.
(2) No person shall be subjected to torture for the purpose of extracting evidence.

Article 38. Promotion of social and economic well-being of the people
The state shall:
a) Provide basic necessities of life, such as food, clothing. housing, education and medical relief, for all such citizens, irrespective of sex, caste, creed or race, as are permanently or temporarily unable to earn their livelihood on account of infirmity, sickness or unemployment;

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I do not blame the “dictators” as they came into power unconstitutionally and nullified the constitution; for which they should be trialed. However, I am right to ask our “constitutionally elected” politicians as to what they have done to put aforementioned articles in practice.

Innocent people were being tortured in police stations, dignities of people were being humiliated, privacy of homes was being invaded, underage children were being forced to labor, individuals were being detained in police stations illegally and without being produced before a magistrate, unsheltered poor were dying with hunger; this all was happening when these “believers of constitution”, our “honorable” politicians, champions of democracy were “legally elected” and governing this country, when they were residing in “Prime Minister House”, it all was happening before Zia and Musharaf; and is still happening. Nothing, literally nothing, was done to implement any of above mentioned articles of “their” supreme constitution by any of our “beloved” politician. As the head of the government, it was responsibility of every “elected” Prime Minister to implement these articles, to make sure basic rights of people that are defined in the constitution were not being violated.

They passed 13th amendments to remove “article 58-2(b)” (president’s power to dissolve assembly) but they couldn’t replace “No child below the age of fourteen years shall be engaged in any factory or mine or any other hazardous employment” with “No child below the age of fourteen years shall be engaged in any employment”. While in power, they filled their bank accounts and multiplied their business wealth but did nothing (or very little) for “Article 38: promotion of social and economic well-being of people”. Police stations were used to force down the political rivals rather to provide security to the public.

Today’s constitution is not acceptable to these politicians and they consider Musharaf as “unconstitutional” president. They want Musharaf to be impeached and constitution to be “restored” as it on 12th October 1999 (when Musharaf took over). They want Musharaf to be impeached not because he is unconstitutional (although they say this and make us believe on this too) but only because:
1. Today’s constitution gives more power to President and not to Prime Minister.
2. PPP wants to install his own President so that it can enjoy the powers of President.
3. PML (N) (read: Nawaz Sharif) wants revenge from Musharaf and wants him to be trialed in court.

They say constitution is distorted by adding “unconstitutional” amendments therefore they don’t accept this constitution. If this constitution is amended to transfer power from President (read: Musharaf) to Prime Minister or it is restored as it was on 12th October 1999 then:
1. PPP doesn’t mind Musharaf sitting in President House with all his power clipped.
2. PML (N) (read: Nawaz Sharif) still wants revenge from Musharaf and wants him to be trialed in court.

In either case, PPP is happy to indemnify Musharaf’s unconstitutional actions on 3rd November 2007. However, PML (N) will not do this because then it cannot demand for Musharaf’s trial for abrogating Constitution; especially when his “unconstitutional” actions on 12th October 1999 have been validated by both Supreme court followed by 17th Amendment passed by previous parliament.

Having said this all, all these “principled” politicians participated in Election 2008 under same constitution that they don’t accept, they took oat under same constitution, and their Ministers took oak from same “unconstitutional” president and from governor appointed by same “unconstitutional” president. They did everything under the very same constitution that they do not accept; they followed everything put down by “unconstitutional” president as long as it was in their benefit.

Supremacy of constitution cannot be attained by rejecting only those articles that do not benefit us; it cannot be achieved by getting only one person on trial for abrogating the constitution. IF we need “Rule of Law” then we need to implement all of its Articles in its true sense, our politicians need to stop using it just to hang on the power and stop adding amendments to it only to grab more powers. And above all our leaders need to stop “exploiting” the public in the name of supremacy of constitution when they themselves don’t believe in it; they believe in only what benefit them.


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Pakistan: Election 2008, was it a revolution?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

18th February 2008, they day when Pakistanis voted for 8th time; some voted for whoever gave them more money, some favored their castes and voted, some were too scared to vote for anyone else but the “influential” candidate. Some were “hari” or “mazary” so they didn’t have much choice to vote for anyone except for their “feudal master”, some voted for whomever their family head told them to vote for and some couldn’t even vote as they found their vote casted before they went to polling station. Some, I believe, did vote for Democracy and to elect a new Prime Minister of Pakistan. However, around 60% of registered voters preferred to sit at home and not to vote for anything.

These are realities of Election 2008 that everyone knows yet our so-called leaders, analysts, TV-hosts and commentators called the election results a “revolution”. Why? Just that pro-Musharaf party did not win the elections hence results are a “revolution”? Does revolution only mean change of faces?

How we can bring a revolution when we ourselves are corrupt. When we don’t stop at the red traffic signal, when we are caught driving without license and offer “chai-pani” (bribe) to a constable before he gives us ticket, when we feel no hesitation in parking our cars right-under the “no parking” signs; we are being corrupt. When we bribe to get a legal driving license illegally, we are being corrupt. We are being corrupt when we pay someone just to bypass a queue and get our work done. Everyone around us is corrupt in his own capacity and in his own way; everyone from very poor to very rich, from a taxi driver to Mercedes owner, from vegetable seller to a landlord, from a worker to a factory owner, from a student to a principal, from a lower division clerk to a manager, from a daily wages labor to a full-time permanent govt. employee. We all, whenever and wherever we get a chance, deceive others, take advantage of others, benefit ourselves dishonestly and are corrupt in our own way. We are so in habit of these small (are they really small?) corruptions of ours that it has become a second nature of us; we don’t even consider it as corruption.

Our actions don’t speak what we preach about. We teach our kids to not lie but when a friend calls, we ask our kids to tell him that I am not home. We curse about India all day and then in the evening we watch Indian movie with whole family. And when our kids start talking like “taporis”, when they say “Fir” instead of “Phir” and “Khhoon” instead of “Khoon”; we blame India for infiltrating into our culture. We talk about helping poor but then we don’t pay our servants salaries on time. We criticize our govt. for poor public services but then we don’t bother paying any tax. We call ourselves Pakistani and celebrate Independence Day but, in rallies on 14th August, we hold flag of our Political Party and not of Pakistan. We disapprove our system for being corrupt and then we suborn the same system where it benefits us. We talk about equality and then we don’t like our kids to study in same schools where poor people’s kids study.

We are so much intolerant that we don’t have any place for having difference of opinion. If someone has same opinion as we do, he is patriotic like us or else he is disloyal to the country; no matter how factual and true his opinion is. We only believe in what we think; others either must agree to us or should get a label of “American agent”, “Non-Muslim”, “Unpatriotic”, “Dictator’s Ally” or “Not a true Muslim”. (And, funny, yet we want “Democracy”. Doesn’t it seem like Dictatorship?). More of our intolerance is that we don’t do this only to other nations or countries as Pakistanis; we do this as individuals, as small groups – groups that we are divided into for speaking different languages, having different casts & sects, for our geographical backgrounds, for our political affiliation. Every group (or individual) is our rival if it doesn’t agree to what we believe; there is no question about us agreeing to anyone who doesn’t belong to our group even if he is right. When we disagree with someone we just go out to the street and burn the buses, cars, public property, we block roads, we forcibly shut down the markets; this is our way of “peaceful” protest.

We do all this and then justify ourselves by putting blame on our system, rulers, leaders and anything but ourselves. We all are corrupt, hypocrite and intolerant and I do not believe that corrupt, hypocrite and intolerant people can bring revolution in any society, no matter how they voted and who they voted for.

Revolution is not the name of replacing corrupt rulers with other corrupt rulers. Revolution is the name of a drastic and far-reaching change in ways of thinking and behaving. And we cannot bring Revolution unless we change our behaviors, unless we change the way we think at individual level.

Though its been 60 years we have been doing this as Pakistani but its still not too late to think about self-accountability and forget about the “accountability for revenge”, its not too late to change our behaviours, its not too late to become a Nation and put our small groups/political parties behind, its not too late to become realisitic and less emotional. No one ever helped us and will never help us unless we start helping ourselves; so far we have just blamed others for our own mistakes but now is the time to learn from our mistakes.


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CJ Iftikhar Case – A Historic Decisioin?

Monday, June 9, 2008

THIS POST IS MIGRATED FROM BLOGSPOT AND ORIGINALLY POSTED ON 29 Jul, 2007

Now a days, Pakistanis everywhere are celebrating recent Supreme Court (SC) decision where it has reinstated its Chief Justice (CJ). Many people consider this as an “historic decision”; not because it has restored chief justice but it went against “government” despite its efforts to influence (if there was any) the decision. I am quite confident in saying that we all would have been shelling out our anger on SC if the decision was opposite to what it is now.
In our 60 years history there are many court cases where the decision was made in favor of “government”; and almost all of those decisions are considered “influenced” by “government”; and they were. Knowing this and the current situation in Pakistan (and of Musharaf which he himself created), if the “government” decided not to “influence” the SC to get a favorable decision then, in my opinion, government decision is real historic decision as it never happened before in our history. On the other hand, if “government” tried (which they would have) to “influence” SC but failed then one would want to know why?

It’s a general understanding after decision on CJ case, that our Judiciary system has become so strong that it can not take any “influences”; and hence the celebration. However, our recent history (last ten years) doesn’t confirm this but it gives us examples which show that our judiciary is still not strong enough to handle these “influences”. In this case, one would wonder how govt. “influence” in CJ case didn’t work. Was there any other Influence out there bigger than govt.?

I think there was, and it was created by CJ himself. (Also, i would like to add here that I am not at all a supporter of Musharaf’s decision of sacking CJ.).

My layman understanding is that when a case is in court, defendant nor the plaintiff (or people directly involved in the case) can publicize the case in any way which may impact court’s decision. Knowing all this, CJ visited everywhere across Pakistan addressing Lawyers (and Public). (One of his visit cost us lives of innocent people in Karachi). He created humongous support for himself (and for case against him) across Pakistan. Huge support from lawyer community, political parties and public created bigger “influence” than govt. and decreasing support for Musharaf also helped this. As a result, a “historic decision” came and CJ won the case. Congratulations!!!!

Many would call it a “movement for Justice” and not for CJ’s “kursi” but I think CJ exploited the whole nation in the name of Justice. If it was a movement for Justice, CJ should have started it when CJ Saeed-u-Zaman Siddiqui was sent home after he refused to put a legal stamp on Musharaf’s “take-over” as Cheif Executive in 2000, OR when one of his predecessor (CJ Irshad Hassan) raised flag of “nazria-e-zaroorat” in favor of army take over, OR before he took oath under PCO (when many other Judges refused to do so), OR before he gave a decision (in favor of govt.) on a writ against 17th amendment allowing Musharaf to keep Uniform after 31 Dec 2004 but NOT after he was made dysfunctional. Why CJ Iftikhar did not start this “movement for Justice” when Supreme Court was attacked in 1997, when CJ Sajjad Ali Shah was made to leave and his own colleague judges turned against him?
I see all those qualities in CJ which our “good” politicians have. It makes me think if CJ will become another “savior” politician for Pakistani nation, if yes, then he will have to maintain his popularity till then. He has already become as popular as Bhutto or Nawaz Sharif was (or Musharaf was at one time). And to continue his popularity, I won’t be surprised if SC will keep taking notices of things which affect a common person and/or things which can decrease govt. popularity (which is already decreasing). I don’t think SC (and current CJ) will ever take any notice of those who are sucking Pakistan’s blood like leeches, it won’t take notice of those who are ruining our next generations, it won’t take notice who are brain-washing innocent people in the name of Islam to become fuel for their evil desires, it won’t take notice of those politicians who are fooling this nation for 60 years, it won’t take notice because all these issues are secondary for a common pakistani. Our rulers (both politicians and army) have done enough to make a common person to not think about anything except worrying about basic necessaties like food. So CJ will not take notice of anything which doesnt give him popularity among “awaam”. In coming days, we will see opposition will file cases against govt. and SC will give decision in their favor in weeks (if not days) and this all will happen in the name of Justice. Having said all this, if these notices are not for popularity, and are based on sincerity then I am right to assume that our Judiciary has dealt with all cases pending for years and now have enough time to take notices.

In near future, I dont see anything good happening to Pakistan and CJ Iftikhar would be one of the main reason for it.

Pakistan’s Savior Army, Politicians, Judiciary or Nation?

Monday, June 9, 2008

THIS POST IS MIGRATED FROM BLOGSPOT AND WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED ON 28 Aug 2007.

Today, Pakistan is passing through a critical phase where it is facing so many challenges both inside and outside. Our politicians claim that only they can take Pakistan out of these current crises, whereas our Army claims he has solution of all issues of Pakistan. On the other hand, Judiciary is active in taking notices and trying to make us believe that it will not allow any un-constitutional business. Everyone presents himself as a “true” savior but no one cooperates with others to become a savior.

Who is our savior? Army, Politicians and Judiciary; can we trust any of those?

Our politicians remind me of Ghulam Muhammad and Iskandar Mirza who did not let our political system stabilize. In their 7 years tenure, 6 Prime ministers and 2 assemblies were dismissed. They remind me of Bhutto and Mujeeb who couldn’t come to an agreement and ultimately split the country. They remind me of Benazir and Nawaz Sharif who are known for their corruption and never let each other work for the country. Those were our politicians who first appointed Ayub Khan (COAS) as defense minister and told army that it can be part of govt. Politicians (not army) imposed first martial law in this country and also celebrated Army take over in 1958, 1977 and 1999. Those were also politician who invited army to take control in 1977, 1993, 1997 and 1999. They were also politicians who enjoyed military rule and took their fair share. When I look back in our history, I can not find any single example which gives me confidence to trust these politicians.

How about Army? Army ruled this country for 32 (out of 60) years. General Ayub, General Yahya, General Zia and General Musharaf all are dictators of army regimes. Although, every time army took over it was because of our politicians but Major General Akbar Khan (Chief of General Staff at that time) prepared first conspiracy to take-over Liaqat Ali Khan govt 1951. Once in power, all army dictators tried their best to remain in power as long as they could. None of these army generals let political system stabilize. Army is also equally responsible for losing East-Pakistan. It happened under army regime when people were brain-washed for jihad and were fueled into afghan war. It was an army dictator who introduced Kalashnikov culture to this country and we are still suffering with it. It’s happening under army govt. when our army forces are fighting against its own people. (It’s another debate as to why this is happening).

Can our judiciary be our savior? Judiciary who provided legitimacy to actions of Ghulam Muhammad, Zia-u-Haq, Ishaq Khan, Farooq Laghari for dismissing assemblies? Judiciary who introduced “doctrine of necessity” when Iskandar Mirza and Zia imposed Martial Law; when Ayub Khan and Musharaf took control of this country? Judiciary whose judges turned against their own Chief Justice? Judiciary who allowed every single dictator to amend constitution? Judiciary who is exploiting this nation in name of Justice and playing in hands of opposition (although many wouldn’t agree with this)? If this Judiciary would have given historic decision in 1954 when Ghulam Muhammad’s action of dismissing assemblies was challenged in court or would have not allowed Ayub Khan by introducing “doctrine or necessity” we might have had a different Pakistan.

I see none of these as a “savior” of today’s Pakistan. I think only a “Nation” can save this country. Nation, not “Awaam” and currently we are not a Nation. We are “awaam”, common people, divided into many groups. We are divided into sects, casts, parties, languages, classes etc. Speaking different languages and supporting different parties doesn’t make us “awaam”. It also doesn’t make us “awaam” if different people come from different backgrounds. It makes us “awaam” when these groups do not unite for National Issues, when we prefer supporting our individual groups and put our country behind. When we think all groups are illegal, criminal, unethical and dishonest except us. Today, we are considered more loyal to our party if we are more cruel, violent and critical to other party. The more we criticize other group more we get popular in our own group. Today, our leaders want us divided so that they can rule. Every politician in our country has only one line agenda; to become part of government and suck this country.

Jinnah was a great leader who united this “awaam” into a Nation and was able to get this country for us. Today, we need to get united again as Nation and this time we will have to do by ourselves. We need to get united for Pakistan and not for Musharaf, Benazir, Nawaz Shareef or any other. We need to change our behavior from violent to tolerant so that we can listen to opinions different to what we believe. We need to learn how to sit together when it comes to our country. Reacting violently to everything and bringing people to streets will make things only worst.

We have a beautiful country but need a Nation for it.