Ambassador Alam Brohi expresses his opinion about the current socio-political
We Are Off The Track – Countries, nations, societies, political and social organisations are governed by constitutions, laws and regulations. The system of governance has passed through a long evolutionary trajectory to reach the modern age. Even all the known faiths are based on a system of reward and punishment for good and bad deeds in the world hereafter. The concepts of rule of law and equality before law, social justice and economic equity, protection of the life and dignity of citizens are as old as the state. The moment a nation drifts out of the bounds of its basic laws, it starts edging towards chaos and anarchy.
A nation cannot live in constitutional vacuums. Shift the canopy of constitutional laws from it, some authoritarian laws or politically driven religious edicts will fill the vacuum dividing the society into ideologically hardened sectarian groups. Leave the Islamic faith alone, the Christian world witnessed prolonged sectarian wars for over three decades resulting in the huge loss of human lives and destruction of many countries including Germany. This theatre of stupidity continued until the famous Peace Treaty of Westphalia signed in October 1648 by the weary European countries creating secular nation states and confining the Papal power to churches.
In our times, many African and Arab societies have suffered from ethnic, sectarian and ideological cum political wars which have pushed them to depths of devastation, displacement of populations, poverty and misery. The examples of Rwanda, Somalia, Congo, Central African Republic, Angola, Burkina Faso, Sierra lone, Algiers, Lebanon, Yemen etc. would not be out of place here. Many countries in our region have been torn apart by centrifugal forces and secessionist movements. India remained under siege from within for over many years braving secessionist movements by over half a dozen union states including the Punjab. The Tamil secessionists had almost rendered Sri Lanka asunder.
We have had three insurgencies in the province of Balochistan. We lost the bigger wing of the country by trying to solve a political problem by use of military force. The political leadership failed to reach a compromise on the constitution making. The political impasse had much more than settling the differences on the Awami League’s Six Points. The establishment wanted to secure the political and financial interests of Punjab in the Constitution. The irony was that a shrewd politician like Z.A. Bhutto, willingly or unwillingly remained hand in glove with the powers that counted at the time. Though the consequences were tragic, we forgot the humiliation we suffered as a nation and, as subsequent years displayed, continued drifting to political waywardness.
We have had three constitutional vacuums with the abrogation of the Constitution of 1956 and 1962, while the 1973 Constitution was held in abeyance by General Zia until 1985 when the nonparty National Assembly mutilated it by passing the infamous 8th Amendment transferring all the executive powers of the Prime Minister to the President. Sadly, the Legislature suffered humiliation three times at the hands of the powerful Presidents within a span of seven years and elected Prime Ministers including Muhammad Khan Junejo, Benazir Bhutto and Mian Nawaz Sharif were sent packing home.
Going little back in our political history, we come across many shocking instances of the political impetuosity our representative have been displaying. The resolution of one-unit was passed by the half empty Sindh Assembly in 1954 with the Speaker Ghulam Ali Talpur detained in a forlorn rest house in Tharparkar. Ayub Khuhro, earlier disqualified for any public office, was washed clean and brought in as the Chief Minister or the henchman of the Central Authority to do this unpopular task.
As all the four provinces were amalgamated into West Pakistan in 1955, a new political party – Republic Party – was created out of the blue and all the worthy members of the Federal Legislature were herded into it.
General Ayub Khan founded his own political party – Convention Muslim League sounding the death knells of the Republic Party with the Federal Legislators flocking to the new pastoral land. All the stalwart Muslim Leaguers from the feudal chiefs, sardars, landlords, peers, and sajjadanashins were prominent in kowtowing to the new ruler. It was not only Justice Munir who paved the way for autocracy or inflicted the debilitating blow to the constitutional rule. It is not only the judiciary that failed to protect the constitutions. The public representatives equally share the blunder by aiding and abetting the political and constitutional shenanigans of the autocrats and Generals that played havoc with the representative rule in the country.
There is today a confusing cobweb of laws restraining the elected public representatives to exercise their parliamentary right in accordance with their conscience. It reminds me of Senator Raza Rabbani voting with moistened eyes under the command of his party on a bill. The new laws passed by the parliamentarians have rendered National Accountability Bureau dysfunctional. Even the trial courts have shown confusion whether or not they are competent under new laws to continue proceedings in certain cases. All the cases involving charges of corruption of Rs.500million have been excluded from the Bureau’s purview. The laws passed in haste seem to be far from public welfare and are apparently specific to certain cases. These laws have short statutory utility and life.
We would be committing a blunder in making the state institutions subservient to our political whims. The confrontation between the Legislature and Judiciary will lead us to irreparable loss. The defiance of the orders of the apex court by the ruling coalition hiding behind the supremacy of the parliament is very unfortunate. The court has been exercising utmost restraint in the face of extreme provocation by the parliamentarians. The day the court falls apart, we will be overwhelmed by chaos and anarchy. The authoritarianism is at the peak. We are already living in a police state. The judiciary from at all levels has been protecting the common citizenry from the unlawful persecution and coercion. The Judiciary holds out the last hope in these chaotic conditions. Think of common citizenry, gentlemen. The Weekender
Alam Brohi is former Ambassador of Pakistan and was associated with Foreign Service of Pakistan