campaign 2013
The Chakwal factor
Tight triangular contests are expected in the national and provincial constituencies 
By Dr Arif Azad
Electioneering in Chakwal has been in full spate for some time now despite the final party-line up yet to be finalised. Weeks before the election process getting underway, Ayaz Amir, the sitting PML-N) MNA, set out his stall early on in a column by expressing his battle-readiness for the upcoming election campaign. In this way he also quashed any speculation about his differences with the PML-N leadership and made a pitch for the party ticket on convincing arguments. Earlier on, he had made it loud and clear that, being a party loyalist, he deserved the PML-N’s nomination rather than the rest of ticket aspirants with shady biography of serial party switches. In particular, he wrote about the ex-nazim Sardar Ghulam Abbas who was reportedly in discussion with the PML-N leadership after leaving the PTI. Now Ayaz Amir has won the PML-N’s nomination after the success of his appeal against rejection of his nomination papers. This sets the stage for a tight fight between two old rivals. In 1997 Ayaz Amir beat him in the provincial assembly constituency PP22. In 2008, Ayaz defeated Ghulam Abbas’s brother to win the NA-60 constituency. 

Mixed results
A survey conducted by the British Council titled ‘Next generation goes to ballot box’ confirms one thing — Pakistan’s burgeoning youth population is going to play a pivotal role in the next elections
By Harris Badar
Pakistan’s augmenting population of young people prefer dictatorship or Islamic law rather than democracy, is overwhelmingly conservative, highly pessimistic and contemplates democracy as phony, a recent study has found.
As the historic elections are approaching and Pakistan is going to experience its first transition from one democratically elected government to the next, the survey commissioned by the British Council revealed some mind boggling.

Yeh Woh
Selling to the salesman
By Masud Alam
You have seen the election manifestos of all the parties. You have seen them all before. They are always wonderful documents, printed on expensive art paper, promising everything under the sun and delivering nothing. 
Or maybe you didn’t bother to look at any one of them. After all, they mean nothing more than a property developer’s full-colour glossy brochure depicting neat rows of splendid houses surrounded by lush green pastures, lakes and golf courses. If you care to visit the project site you are likely to see nothing but dirt, thorny wild bushes, and if the developer is smart, some earthmoving equipment at work. 

review
Where logic and passion converge
Essays in memory of Justice Sabihuddin bring out the 
essence of judicial activism of a constitutionalist
By Saroop Ijaz
Law in a world of change
First Edition 2012
Publisher: Pakistan Law House
Pages: 257
Price: Rs1500
“Sabihuddin Ahmed not only had a passion for human rights, he had also acquired through study and deliberation, the ability to justify these rights on the touchstone of cold logic — a combination as ennobling as it is rare,” writes I.A. Rehman. The justifiable mention of passion and cold logic in the same phrase is becoming rare in these times. In the essay of which the above quoted phrase is the last sentence, Rehman in his customary eloquence, makes a successful claim for the passion supported by logic of the late Justice Sabihuddin. 

Sceptic’s Diary
Freedom to dissent
By Waqqas Mir
Representative democracy has an enormous advantage over other systems of government. It is perhaps the only system in our era which not only allows for the widest array of stakeholders but also affords those affected by it an opportunity to constantly re-shape their polity and its ethos. 
This may not always be successful but at least you get a shot at it. 

Belligerent North Korea
The US influence over international politics and absence of 
economic interests of any other country in North Korea is 
responsible for the current crisis
By Helal Pasha
North Korea has a way of popping up in the midst of some high profile crises. While the world was engrossed in Syrian civil war and President Obama’s visit to Israel, the New North Korean leader switched the world attention to a nuclear crisis in the long running battle of nerves between the US-South Korea and North Korea. Assumption was that after the death of the former Supreme leader, the new Supreme leader and the former Supreme leader’s son would take his time in settling down. However, going by the western media, it did not take him long to revert to his father’s legacy. North Korea’s nukes and its escalating threats have begun to take a serious turn. 

 

 

 

 

campaign 2013
The Chakwal factor
Tight triangular contests are expected in the national and provincial constituencies 
By Dr Arif Azad

Electioneering in Chakwal has been in full spate for some time now despite the final party-line up yet to be finalised. Weeks before the election process getting underway, Ayaz Amir, the sitting PML-N) MNA, set out his stall early on in a column by expressing his battle-readiness for the upcoming election campaign. In this way he also quashed any speculation about his differences with the PML-N leadership and made a pitch for the party ticket on convincing arguments. Earlier on, he had made it loud and clear that, being a party loyalist, he deserved the PML-N’s nomination rather than the rest of ticket aspirants with shady biography of serial party switches. In particular, he wrote about the ex-nazim Sardar Ghulam Abbas who was reportedly in discussion with the PML-N leadership after leaving the PTI. Now Ayaz Amir has won the PML-N’s nomination after the success of his appeal against rejection of his nomination papers. This sets the stage for a tight fight between two old rivals. In 1997 Ayaz Amir beat him in the provincial assembly constituency PP22. In 2008, Ayaz defeated Ghulam Abbas’s brother to win the NA-60 constituency.

Sardar Ghulam Abbas, the ex-nazim, has used the period of uncertainty between Ayaz Amir’s rejection of nomination papers and the success of his appeal by reaching out to as many local notables as possible to garner vote commitment before Ayaz’s re-entry into the fray. This is Abbas’s first foray into the national assembly seat (NA-60) after having fought at provincial level since 1985, winning twice in 1985 and 1993. He was briefly provincial minister in the PPP government in 1993.

Chakwal, hived off from Jheulm as a new district before 1988 election, is divided into two national (NA-60/61) and four provincial assembly (PP20/21/22/23) constituencies. NA-60 has total registered vote of 482,348, of which male voting population is 252,236 while female voters’ number is 230,112. From the PML-N platform three candidates Ayaz Amir, General Qayum and Major Tahir Iqbal were in the running. The rest of the PML-N ticket aspirants for this constituency switched over party in the past. However, this time round Ayaz Amir will have a fight on hand because of incumbency factor which may eat into his sizable margin of victory at the 2008 elections. He would be banking heavily on the PML-N’s solid vote bank in the constituency to carry him to the victory stand. On the other hand this is do-or die fight for Ghulam Abbas. Deprived of a party platform after his nimble-footed party switches in recent years, he is left with no option but to contest election on an independent ticket. He has also fielded candidates for PP20, PP21 and PP22 from his independent platforms. Moreover, Ghulam Abbas’s recent somersaults have damaged his reputation. This may harm him in a constituency which is highly literate, anti-feudal and anti-Sardar in its voting behaviour. Against this backdrop he is heavily banking on his personal vote which he has assiduously cultivated over the years.

Raja Sana-ul-Haq, relative of the ex-prime minister, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, is sure to win the PPP’s nomination for NA-60.  However, his much-trumpeted chance of being the front-runner is low considering the PPP’s historic low vote in the constituency. In PP 20, which comprises Chakwal city and the adjoining rural areas, a keen triangular contest is expected between the PPP, PML-N and PTI. PPP’s nominee, Shah Jahan Sarfaraz, who came third in the 2008 election by bagging 28,062 votes, stands a fighting chance in a triangular contest with votes divided evenly between three strong candidates. He is pitted against Chaudhry Liaqat Ali (PML-N), previous winner in all elections from 1985 to 2002, and Nasir Ali Bhatti, in the run from PTI.

Nasir Bhatti, a new entrant, has been busily engaged in the campaign over the last year or so. With a mix of the personal vote and PTI’s youth vote he looks set to establish the PTI as a new electoral force. 

NA-61 is the site of yet another nail-biting contest where Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi is facing the sitting PML-N legislator, Sardar Mumtaz Tamman. Mumtaz’s position is weakened by incumbency factor. NA-61 boasts of total 438,624 voters, of which male voter number is 234,520 while female voters number are 204,104. Pervaiz Elahi, an outside candidate, lost to Faiz Tamman in the 2008 elections by a razor-thin margin of 432 votes. Since then Pervaiz Elahi has cultivated the local constituency by showering development funds and connecting a number of large villages and towns in the constituency to national gas pipeline. Prevaiz Elahi has an energetic point man, Ammar Yasir, in the constituency who has worked hard at keeping the candidate relevant to, and connected with, constituents. Moreover, Pervaiz Elahi also stands to benefit from a tacit seat adjustment between the PPP and PML-Q on the one hand and Sardar Abbas on the other hand. Yet another veteran candidate Sardar Mansoor Hayat Tamman, who won the constituency in 1988, 93 and 97, is in electoral play again as an independent candidate. If he manages the PTI’s nomination then Pervaiz Elahi has a fight on his hand in a tight triangular contest.

PP 21 is widely believed to be in the pocket of PML-N candidate, Tanvir Aslam Sethi, who has proved himself as a good and capable MPA. Sardar Ghulam Abbas has also filed nomination papers for his old provincial constituency of PP 22. In PP 23, the real contest is shaping up to be between Sultan Surkharu, an ex-MP, and Malik Zahoor Anwar, the sitting MPA.

In the coming days the electoral scenario may change depending upon finalisation of the party tickets and the shape of final line up of the candidates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Mixed results
A survey conducted by the British Council titled ‘Next generation goes to ballot box’ confirms one thing — Pakistan’s burgeoning youth population is going to play a pivotal role in the next elections
By Harris Badar

Pakistan’s augmenting population of young people prefer dictatorship or Islamic law rather than democracy, is overwhelmingly conservative, highly pessimistic and contemplates democracy as phony, a recent study has found.

As the historic elections are approaching and Pakistan is going to experience its first transition from one democratically elected government to the next, the survey commissioned by the British Council revealed some mind boggling.

The survey, titled “Next generation goes to Ballot Box”, of 5,271 young Pakistanis echoes the challenges the country might face because of peculiar demographics and where a colossal number of youth (about 94 per cent) believe that the country is going in the wrong direction.

The survey says, “Politicians will struggle to inspire” the dejected youth of Pakistan, which to me is not astonishing with the current economic and social scenario. High inflation, unemployment and poverty are the other major factors that have dismayed the youth.

The report says on page 15 that 77 per cent of the youth of Pakistan favour Army, whilst 74 per cent are inclined towards religious “centres,” implying the army and religious centres as two of the most popular institutions in the country and on page 45, nearly towards the end of the report, when young people of Pakistan were asked which “political system” is best suited for Pakistan, 29 per cent chose democracy, 32 per cent military and 38 per cent Islamic law. Hence, it virtually went unobserved by the majority of the readers because of it being mentioned in the latter pages of the report.

The report somehow indicates that the youth desires military to be in power, plausibly people (and even journalists, for that matter) were baffled when it was published in different newspapers that 77 per cent of the youth preferred military over democracy, which is not the case and actually it is the individual popularity of the institution, vis-à-vis other institutions.

Moreover, 32 per cent youth’s support for the military is not that hard to comprehend as a person who is 29-years-old now, would be about 16-years-old when military toppled Nawaz Sharif’s democratic government. So, present youth has seen the softer side of military rule; their opinion about martial law would have been entirely different if they had experienced Ziaul Haq’s era. Plus, this survey would have had completely different results had it been conducted under the military rule.

Although, five years term completion of the parliament has been hailed as a significant achievement by the political pundits which, in their opinion, bolstered the young democracy, but, according to the survey, the youth have grown more pessimistic about the future of Pakistan.

A crippling democracy is better than dictatorship: This hackneyed rhetoric of the mainstream media has ostensibly gone in vain, as a significant number of youth professed their support for military rule despite the blustery history of army overthrowing civilian governments. It’s not democracy that youth is mourning about; it’s the inflation, unemployment and energy crisis that has compelled them to praise army over democracy.

Perhaps, for the first time, masses and all of the politicians seemed amenable to the upcoming elections but this survey pictures the youth as unenthused for upcoming elections. Ironically, 32 per cent of the urban middle-class chose military rule as the best political system and simultaneously 62 per cent are willing to vote while another 20 per cent say they could still be coaxed to turn up on election day. These statistics alone should mollify people who are concerned about the looming death of democracy that has surfaced since the survey is published.

Though one fact in the report that concerns me the most is the increasing population of the country. Many developed countries are struggling to fund programmes to look after their fast aging population. Auspiciously, Pakistan is blessed with a vibrant young population but the country doesn’t have enough time to take advantage of the demographic dividend as by mid-century, the proportion of workforce will be falling and the country will consequently be aging fast.

The report in the end reveals a startling bleak fact and warns Pakistan that it could be one of the first countries ever to “grow old before it has grown rich.”

The costs of failing to harness the energies of youth are high, says the report, demographic dividend/advantage can turn into severe havoc or into demographic disaster if the young people are deprived of opportunities.

Current demographic state of Pakistan has to be addressed or else something more sinister is likely to happen, realising that to animated youth will not remain nonchalant if their needs are not met. Today, only 8 million Pakistanis are over the age of 65 but tomorrow, in fifty years time, it will increase up to an ungovernable 40 million.

About 30 per cent of the registered voters (more than 25 million) are between the ages of 18 and 29 and majority will be voting for the first time, the report says.

Imran Khan, Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), has been claiming youth support for a long time whilst other political parties seemed oblivious to youth till young people started to flock to Khan’s mega rallies. Khan is banking heavily on the youth whereas PML-N, which is considered relatively more politically savvy realised the need of the hour just a year ago and initiated projects that were envisioned to attract youth. Hence, the question is which party would be able to inspire and mobilise youth to turn up on the Election Day.

Nevertheless, in my opinion, the findings of the survey are likely to shake the political parties unequivocally. Pakistan’s burgeoning youth population is going to play a pivotal role in the upcoming elections. Although, the report has revealed some dubious facts, the fact is that the youth has woken up to the need to exercise their right to vote and play their part in building a greater Pakistan.

A quote by Robert Frost will very aptly sum-up the importance of voting in democracy: Thinking isn’t agreeing or disagreeing. That’s voting.

The survey is available at http://www.britishcouncil.org/pakistan-next-generation-ballot-box-report.pdf

 

 

Yeh Woh
Selling to the salesman
By Masud Alam

You have seen the election manifestos of all the parties. You have seen them all before. They are always wonderful documents, printed on expensive art paper, promising everything under the sun and delivering nothing.

Or maybe you didn’t bother to look at any one of them. After all, they mean nothing more than a property developer’s full-colour glossy brochure depicting neat rows of splendid houses surrounded by lush green pastures, lakes and golf courses. If you care to visit the project site you are likely to see nothing but dirt, thorny wild bushes, and if the developer is smart, some earthmoving equipment at work.

Like the developers’ brochure, the election manifesto is a sales-and-marketing tool intended to sell dreams to the voters without even a pretense of informing and educating them on whys and hows; in fact it has nothing to do with common people at all, which is why the document is printed in just enough quantity to be distributed among media and party offices as a souvenir. The launch of manifesto is a one-time photo-op for the party leaders, and a chance for them to paint the la-la land they plan to build this disheveled and dysfunctional country into.

If a party canvasser shows up at your doorstep with the fresh-from-the-press election manifesto in hand, and you are in no mood to listen to them, ask them to keep it for the next election and instead bring the manifesto from last election and go over the achievements, point by point. They will go away because no one can find a copy of last election’s manifesto and no party likes to talk about promises made in the past.

So as far as we, the people and voters, are concerned, any election manifesto is junk — unless it is our own. As a voter I am the king; I don’t need political parties, they need me. So instead of them telling us corruption will be eliminated in so many days and prosperity will arrive in every household in so many weeks, we can tell them what we want and let them spell out their plans — if they have any — to achieve it. Here is a sample ‘personal election manifesto’. Feel free to lift from and add to it, or have an entirely different document of your own:

Protection of life and property: This is the primary duty of any government. Whether the lost life and property belongs to a wealthy Muslim or a destitute Christian, the government shall make every effort to bring the culprits to speedy justice, compensate the victim’s family, and take concrete steps to avoid a recurrence. In every instance of failure to do the above, heads must roll, starting at the top.

Justice system: An overactive Supreme Court is good or bad for institutions and powerful individuals only; it doesn’t make my life any easier. The lower judiciary needs to be overhauled completely and subjected to stringent checks and balances. Citizens should be able to bring up cases of judges’ corruption and if held up, should result in double the punishment prescribed in law for a common citizen.

Education: We are already behind the rest of the world and risk turning Pakistan into a Greater FATA within our lifetime. Quality, compulsory and free education for all is the only way out of this impending disaster, if we act now. If there’s no money left for education, dip into the prime minister’s discretionary funds, sell the general’s tanks and posh properties and the bureaucrat’s fleet of cars, and if still short, tax the common man some more.

Transportation: Providing adequate and affordable public transport is not the responsibility of private sector. The governments at every level will provide, maintain and ensure the availability of reliable and decent inter-city and intra-city transportation, particularly buses and railways.

Essentials: There can be a 100 excuses but not one justification for shortages when it comes to daily needs like water, basic food, drugs, fuel, electricity, etc. We either grow or produce in-country or buy from international markets; either way it is government’s responsibility to ensure the country has enough for all its population. The only shortage acceptable to us will be the one that affects the rulers’ households as well. And every city and town will build and maintain public toilets at a minimum cost to users.

There are known hindrances to the provision of the above, namely: the Pakistan Army, the Jewish and Hindu lobby, the undemocratic forces, the miscreants, the policies of previous governments, this or that mafia etc. If you can’t deal with them, don’t bother asking for my vote.

masudalam@yahoo.com

 

 

 

 

 

review
Where logic and passion converge
Essays in memory of Justice Sabihuddin bring out the 
essence of judicial activism of a constitutionalist
By Saroop Ijaz

Law in a world of change

First Edition 2012

Publisher: Pakistan Law House

Pages: 257

Price: Rs1500

“Sabihuddin Ahmed not only had a passion for human rights, he had also acquired through study and deliberation, the ability to justify these rights on the touchstone of cold logic — a combination as ennobling as it is rare,” writes I.A. Rehman. The justifiable mention of passion and cold logic in the same phrase is becoming rare in these times. In the essay of which the above quoted phrase is the last sentence, Rehman in his customary eloquence, makes a successful claim for the passion supported by logic of the late Justice Sabihuddin.

In the very first page of the foreword to, “Law in a World of Change”, a compilation of essays in memory of Justice Sabihuddin, Muneer A. Malik mentions his PCO oath of 2000 and later appointment to the Supreme Court when the de jure Chief Justice was still deposed. Malik, one of the closest friends of Justice Sabihuddin, chose not to ignore or elide over the disobliging facts, or even be apologetic about it. Rightly so, Justice Sabihuddin does not need it. To borrow Malik’s words, “At the bar of history, he stands vindicated”; he certainly does.

It is a vertiginous feeling to read this excellent compendium now in the times of a puritanical Supreme Court not willing to accept any flaws or mistakes of the past. The foreword ends with an excerpt of Justice Sabihuddin’s graceful speech in 1983 when he resigned as an office-bearer of the Sindh High Court Bar Association in protest against inviting the then president Gen. Zia-ul-Haq to the Bar. That excerpt is the true measure of the man. That measure is of a man who is courageous without hysteria, principled without self-righteousness. Of a man who would make the right choice even when the media cameras are not rolling.

All essays in the compilation are worth reading. Particularly brilliant is Justice Sabih’s own paper on enforcement of fundamental rights by the Pakistani courts. The paper provides a test for some of us, who oppose the current wave of unchecked judicial activism in so far as it advocates an activist, perhaps even an interventionist, position for the Court. Yet, it does so elegantly and powerfully. Passion and cold logic converge seamlessly, beautifully.

He makes a persuasive case for the courts adopting a more proactive position in affirmative action for women in Pakistan, and appropriately quotes William Blake in the process. This paper is important, so as to revisit perhaps re-imagine what “judicial activism” once meant or could have meant. Justice Sabih’s activist position is not that of a glamorous kind with breaking news, prime ministers and news tickers in vogue. His activism is the right kind, the kind that seeks enforcement of human rights for women, for bonded labourers, for the underprivileged. Justice Sabih’s paper is complemented by an incisive essay by Babar Sattar on principled, unadulterated constitutionalism and the need for simultaneous activism and restraint.

Justice Sabih’s activism, of a constitutionalist, seems now to be from another world. Where principles mattered, where jurisprudence was created, where the “how” mattered as much as the “why”. That time is gone. His judgments on the bonded labour in the agriculture sector and in the employment cases of public corporations are amongst the finest specimens of our jurisprudence. Their excellence lies in being written by someone who believes in the cause, and also by someone who can articulate his belief on the touchstone of impeccable legal principles.

Khalid Jawed Khan echoes I. A. Rehman when he writes, “While Justice Sabih was bold and liberal by instinct, it was not the boldness of an ideologue with all sail and no anchor.” Justice Sabih had a rock solid anchor and quite a lot of sail to go with it.

The compilation is not all nostalgic; not all passion is tempered with reason. Essays by Zain Shaikh and Hamid Khan are about unguarded optimism, almost euphoric at the success of the Lawyers’ Movement. Shaikh’s essay title gives some indication of the mood, “Dawn of Constitutionalism in Pakistan”. The essay celebrates the burial of the “doctrine of necessity”. It does make one wonder if the celebration is premature. He ends the essay with the expanded definition of “high treason”, whereas Khan concludes by expressing satisfaction at the ouster of General Musharraf. One is slightly uneasy at reflecting on this expression of triumph, especially now that General Musharraf is back. Article 6 still remains dusty and unused. Both essays while being very well-written, perhaps already seem dated, for no fault of the authors certainly. The honeymoon is already over. The ‘dawn’ if there was any, to quote the now much quoted line of Faiz, is not what was promised.

My Lord, Asif Khosa has an exceptional essay on the “Independence of Judiciary: The Final Frontier”. He makes the important distinction between “independence” and “impartiality” and the relationship between the two; independence as a means of leading to impartiality as an end. Kudos also to him for giving a cricketing reference, with a Pakistan-India game and a potential Sachin Tendulkar dismissal. Yet, to remember that My Lord wrote the “Pity the Nation” judgement, disregarding for that moment his dispassionate and excellent distinction.

This also highlights the difficulty of maintaining individual opinion in conflict with the collective mind and mood of the country, of maintaining reason along with passion. Perhaps, making us remember and miss Justice Sabih’s presence a bit more.

One essay which has frightening prescience is that by Martin Lau. In the essay Lau covers the constitutional history of Pakistan right from the beginning to post 1977. He does an excellent job of capturing the struggle for dominance of religion, democracy and the deification of Jinnah. He ends at the disturbing note of Zia-ul-Haq winning the battle. The only yardstick of judicial review now is the “injunctions of Islam”. The conclusion is impossible to deny as the circus of finding “Sadiqs” and “Amins” continues. Reading this along with the other essays in the book lowers the spirit not only because it is depressing in itself, but also because it does not have to be this way; it was not always this way Justice Sabih stands in testament to that. The belief in judicial activism can be based on fundamental human rights, core values without appeal to divine principles.

This volume needs to be read for knowing about Justice Sabihuddin’s life of integrity and intellectual brilliance, and for the insight of all the eminent persons who have contributed. This volume also needs to be read for hope, to realise that we have a gold standard of judicial activism in Justice Sabihuddin.

The book is available at Pakistan Law House.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sceptic’s Diary
Freedom to dissent
By Waqqas Mir

Representative democracy has an enormous advantage over other systems of government. It is perhaps the only system in our era which not only allows for the widest array of stakeholders but also affords those affected by it an opportunity to constantly re-shape their polity and its ethos.

This may not always be successful but at least you get a shot at it.

However, the quality of representative democracy in any country is always up for debate — shaped as it is by history, social, cultural and economic factors. In the US the debate has moved past many of the things that we are confronted with and now focuses on issues such as campaign finance. As we approach Elections 2013, we must ask ourselves what are the factors that we think can improve the quality of our representative democracy.

Dictators, such as Zia and Musharraf, left us some of their ideas — and these became part of the constitution. Articles 62 and 63 should make us all think and inquire whether its language or spirit (including the spirit with which they are being or might be implemented) makes our representative democracy any better. Shouldn’t certain questions be left to the electorate rather than Returning Officers who interpret phrases such as ‘ideology of Pakistan’ in depressingly narrow ways?

There is the argument that instead of blaming ECP or its officials we should blame the parliamentarians for not getting rid of Articles 62 and 63. But that argument leaves unanswered many questions. How would the conservative right, their street support and even the conservative sections of the judiciary have reacted if the last parliament had moved to amend Articles 62 and 63? How would the media have reacted? Would it not have become a liability for any political party to even touch these articles?

And therein lays the dilemma.

At times, as a politician you can just hope that the powers that be will not interpret certain laws a particular way and all will go well. Touching those laws can be anathema and lead to a field day for rabble rousers.

Imagine being the PPP, ANP or PML-N and suggesting that these articles should be amended. All your leaders would be on talk shows that night and would be asked in all ways ridiculous whether you do not believe in Islam or whether you want to further corruption?

This is the great victory for Zia and Musharraf. They represent a mindset that has penetrated far deeper than any nuanced debate that politicians can further in this country. There is no shortage of self-righteous journalists who feel responsible for defining Islam and the ideology of Pakistan — including the words Sadiq and Ameen.

The irony is that men who abrogated the constitution and usurped power inserted these provisions. And yet even then their motive is never questioned. All that remains is the text — and the mindset.

For its part the ECP could have been more responsible by issuing guidelines about what not to do. Asking people to recite Dua-e-qunoot has a lot to do with celebrating Zia and a media circus but little to do with the legislation that a man may sponsor or initiate. As Feryal Guahar rightly said in a recent talk show, Jinnah himself would be disqualified.

I understand that crooks must not get into parliament but there is no shortage of crooks who pray five times a day and go for Haj every year. And there is no shortage of people who are honest but fundamentally incompetent and dismissive of women’s rights and any protections for minorities. Let’s leave these choices with the electorate.

There is no shortage of examples where the executive interprets laws a particular way to ensure that no crisis is created. The ECP could have done that this time. And in that way it has fallen short of expectations. Merely because the Honorable High Courts will correct a lot of silly rulings by Returning Officers does not absolve the ECP of its responsibility.

And now to the ideology of Pakistan. I am not responsible for defining it but some people have taken up that mantle. Good luck to them.

But here is a thought and it draws on arguments made by Yale Law Professor Akhil Reed Amar in his fascinating new book, ‘American’s Unwritten Constitution. Amar, among other things, gleans support for freedom of speech in the US by arguing that had there been no freedom of speech, the US would not have come into existence and it would not have been able to adopt its constitution either.

Therefore freedom of speech was used to arrive at that stage in history where America and its constitution became a reality — therefore, there is an unwritten guarantee of free speech. This is different from the traditional liberal argument of reading one right broadly to include another. This is a fascinating twist on an ‘originalist’ argument — that the founders understood that this was a freedom that existed. Hence the words, ‘the’ freedom of speech in the US Constitution.

The same can be applied to Pakistan. When people like Ayaz Amir suffer because of a horrendously restrictive interpretation of the phrase ‘ideology of Pakistan’, ask yourselves this: would there be a Pakistan if there had been no freedom to dissent?

The very foundation of this country is an argument and the freedom to disagree with even that argument is essential. Free speech, however uncomfortable it may make you, was a tool that led to India’s partition. Save the limits argument.

And I wonder what the answer would be if one could go to Jinnah today to ask him how he defined the ideology of Pakistan. I have no clear answers and any that I may speculate do not and should not control our present, but I have a feeling that Jinnah would define it in terms of negatives.

The ideology of Pakistan is definitely not the quelling of dissent. Quelling of dissent maybe the inheritance of Pakistan of today but it should not be and cannot be its ideology. Dissent and the freedom to dissent form the basis of this country.

It is also quite possible that while one had this conversation with the old barrister, Jinnah would be sipping on his whiskey as he looked out into the distance.

Oh, the shock and delightful horror of it all.

The writer can be reached at wmir.rma@gmail.com or on Twitter @wordoflaw

 

 

 

 


Belligerent North Korea
The US influence over international politics and absence of 
economic interests of any other country in North Korea is 
responsible for the current crisis
By Helal Pasha

North Korea has a way of popping up in the midst of some high profile crises. While the world was engrossed in Syrian civil war and President Obama’s visit to Israel, the New North Korean leader switched the world attention to a nuclear crisis in the long running battle of nerves between the US-South Korea and North Korea. Assumption was that after the death of the former Supreme leader, the new Supreme leader and the former Supreme leader’s son would take his time in settling down. However, going by the western media, it did not take him long to revert to his father’s legacy. North Korea’s nukes and its escalating threats have begun to take a serious turn.

The Korean peninsula chronicle is probably the longest running war theatre saga in today’s world. After the US invasion in 1950, North Korea and the US did sign an armistice in 1953; yet, the war never reached any conclusion. The US still maintains a sizeable army and bases in South Korea under a pact that allows the US to protect South Korea from any foreign military intervention.

The western media conveniently blames North Korea for belligerency as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel claimed: North Korea’s provocative actions and belligerent tone had ratcheted up the danger on the Korean peninsula. The reality is hugely different. Since March 8 this year, both the US and South Korea have teamed up in multiple actions that clearly threaten North Korea’s security. Initially, South Korea threatened to strike against the North Korean leaders, the US was not far behind in upping the ante and moved two nuclear submarines near the North Korean shores. If that was not enough, the US flew F22 and B52 bombers illegally over North Korea and reportedly dropped plastic or fake bombs over North Korea, adding joint military exercises on top of that, all within a span of three weeks and in clear violation of 1953 armistice.

Everything points out to deliberate attempts to provoke North Korea into some reckless retaliatory action that might provide the US a great opportunity to effect yet another regime change in a country far away from the Western civilisation.

While the Western Media was busy making fun of the former North Korean leader and then his son, the young North Korean leader was actually planning to open up the country to foreign investments. The German educated Kim Jong-un was working on a plan to bring investors from Germany. He announced his plans in a speech to the nation in January 2013 and rehabilitated an economist, dismissed by his father for promoting the idea of foreign investments in the country. Since then, things started heating up in the peninsula.

In the midst of all the commotion that has become the hallmark of the western media, there has not been any serious attempt by any institution including the UN to really look up the reasons for on again, off again periodic emergencies, often involving nukes, in the area for so many years. It is true that in the absence of any settlement, the war like conditions flare up the old rivalries. However, the changing economic realities including the rise of South Korea as a major industrial power has a lot to do with the current situation.

South Korean population is almost twice that of its northern neighbour. With 70 per cent area almost inhospitable due to mountain ranges, South Korea perhaps has the largest concentration of people per square mile in the world. The future growth of South Korea is constrained by its geographical limitations. South Korea has managed to place some industries in North Korea; still the need for more land is growing faster. The previous North Korean regime was totally averse to any idea of foreign investments and repeatedly refused to discuss any option of reunification. There was slight hope when the young Kim Jong-un took over that the North Korean position might change. North Korea did change its position on foreign investments and looked for Germany and other European countries rather than South Korea and the US for investments. In the most likely scenario, the North Korean refusal to do business with South Korea is the major cause of repeated attempt to push an economically weak, nuclear armed country into a situation which allows the US and South Korea to forcibly get what they cannot get by showing heaps of dollars to North Korea.

The unfortunate reality is that the western media typically casts off adversarial leaders of developing countries as crazy, unsound, and unbalanced. The media would continuously mock the leaders and hide the real problems from its own people as well as from the rest of the world. We have seen this happening to many leaders from South America to Africa to China and invariably North Korea.

The current leader of North Korea never showed any sign of an unsound mind but he became a butt of jokes immediately after he took over the reins in North Korea. The US and South Korea both do not take North Korea’s nuclear arms seriously and are embarked upon a course that might cause deep anguish in the area. The usual failure of the UN and other major players to not mediate in Korean peninsula is due to the influence that US has over the international politics and absence of economic interests of any other country in North Korea.

 

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