Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The American contradiction

Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none
-Thomas Jefferson, 1743-1826.

American people create abundant wealth. So, they are prosperous and happy. It is only because they are economically freer than many nations on earth. In consequence, that makes them politically freer. What makes all that possible is their declaration of independence, constitution, bill of rights, and their independent courts, which promptly ensure the continuance of rule of law, which in turn help a free media to exist, and it is this combination that guarantees personal freedoms to American people: to do whatever they like to do, of course, under the state and federal laws. Despite their state’s encroachments on their freedoms especially after 9/11, they are free to pursue economic, political, social, intellectual, philosophical, moral, spiritual, aesthetic enterprises, or whatever they like to seek.

In sum, it is their love for personal freedom that characterises and distinguishes them from other people. In that they are unique. That should make them enviable to all other nations that lack this ultra-care for personal freedom. But this does not form the gist of America. It is something else.

Let me narrate a personal experience to elaborate on that point.

In Washington D.C. where the fate of smaller nations is written, what fascinated me most was the National Archives. It displays some original pages and initial facsimiles of the American Charters of Freedom, i.e. Declaration of Independence, US Constitution, and Bill of Rights. It also displays an original copy of the Magna Carta (1297): the document which foretold the spirit of the Charters of Freedoms.

All these documents have been placed in a building of highest grandeur in a way so that natural light is available therein. In order to protect (or to prolong) the life of these documents, artificial light has been avoided. Flash photography is not allowed either. That is fantastic! But that is American also! These documents are worth a museum, and they have rightly been archived. I do not know if these documents are available in another building located a few miles away from the National Archives, i.e. White House. I do not know if George W. Bush, Jr. has ever read them. I do not know, either, if any congressman or senator has ever gone through them and understood them well. What I do know is that American government and especially its foreign policy has entirely drifted from what those documents signify and what they stand for.

Also, in the same building are displayed many a quote of the American founding fathers and other notables which belie what America means today to the world outside America. Not only in the National Archives, but in other places such as Jefferson Memorial all the quotes expose the reality of the present-day America. Here it needs not to go into the details of those quotes, since the principle of personal freedom is sufficient to make the point. Practically, this principle manifests itself in a negative assertion, rather than in a positive one as it appears to be. It may be worded thus: ‘You are free to do whatever you like until and unless you do not encroach on my freedoms.’ That is really an achievement of American society and government! I am all praise for that.

However, it is not the whole story. You talk to American people what is going on in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan; in the first instance, they are just oblivious of it. Or at best, they will offer a personal apology: ‘Oh that is what I can do! I am sorry for that!’ That does not help much to dispel the impression that more or less American society is like an island in a world deeply involved in many such conflicts for which the responsibility rests on the American government. My argument focuses on that blatant contradiction.

No doubt, we can retreat to a hermitage, and live there in peace we wish to be in. But we can never be in such a retreat after harming others. Maybe we are forgiven once or twice. In case we continue harming other people, and presume that we will be safe in our retreat, that’s our forgetfulness, to use a euphemism. We need to know we are going to be chased, and paid in the same coin. In other words, if we think that rule A is only valid for us, and for other people there is another rule B, we are living in a contradiction. We know well we cannot live long in a contradiction. Someone is going to explode that contradiction. We are in the midst of that explosion.

So, the sort of a principled foreign policy of American government towards other people that “you are not free to do whatever you like whether you encroach on my freedoms or not’ contradicts its sort of a principled internal policy towards its own people that ‘you are free to do whatever you like until and unless you do not encroach on my freedoms.’ The point of argument rests on the understanding that just like American people, every people on earth need a constitution that ensures them their inalienable personal freedoms, independent courts that take care of rule of law for them, and a constitutional democratic government to represent them. Sure, it is no privilege of American people only. Naturally, it is no privilege of American government to deprive other people of these necessities. Or for that matter, no nation or people can be allowed this privilege such as former Soviet Union tried its hand on against which American government fought both the cold and hot wars so passionately to secure freedom and human rights for the people in distress.

In this regard, no excuses, pretexts or expediencies can make for any allowance. It needs to be realised that 9/11 belongs to a class of effects; it’s no part of the list of causes. Moreover, whatever the war against terror requires never means abandoning the principles. How come that Pakistani people do not need a constitutional government, independent judiciary, rule of law only because their government has made their country a frontline ally of US government in the war against terror. Only because a dictator, who has trashed the Constitution, sent all the superior court judges home to keep himself in power, and made the country a fiefdom of the elites of Pakistan, pleases the US government, Pakistani people should have nothing of the sorts.

This is just outrageous: kill one people to save others and for nothing. The saner Americans must realise that they are not going to win this war against terrorism. Beyond envy, religious fanaticism, historical animosity against US, there is something very real underneath it. It is that blatant contradiction. It needs to be addressed urgently, and until and unless it is addressed to with an open mind and heart, nothing is going to make any difference.

It is for both American people and government to realise that though American people create abundant wealth, but of course they are not going to create this wealth continuously if this is going to be spent on such useless wars. It may go on for another ten, twenty or at most fifty years that such wealth is available to American government, but in the end, as has been happening in history, such wars will drain all the resources and energies of the American people. This is how empires meet their fall. Wars and such whimsical wars without addressing the core issues resemble death wish.

That’s the issue. In order to survive both as an epitome and an emblem of personal freedom for all the people on this earth, American people need to rejuvenate their government with the fountainhead of Charters of Freedom. They need to go back to the basics. They need to rediscover those principles contained in the documents which have been archived. They need a refresher in their founding fathers’ teachings. They need to let there be equally valid principles for all the people on this earth. They need to make their government to win hearts of the people, not the heads of their government. That’s the only way to save America and not let it meet the tragic end of an empire.

Note: This article was completed in July 2008.

Monday, November 7, 2016

The perils of judicial populism

Judges rule on the basis of law, not public opinion, and they should be totally indifferent to the pressures of the times.
- Warren E. Burger (1907-1995), Chief Justice, US Supreme Court.

The best thing that explains the Supreme Court's (SC’s) July 20 judgment is: it is never too late to mend. As is being claimed, the judgment is historic, it is daring, it is a people's verdict, and a turning point in Pakistan's history. Of course, it is all these or maybe more, but things are meaningful only in a context. Without context, they lose their import. This is more so with the SC's judgment that unanimously reinstated Mr. Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Chief Justice (CJ) of Pakistan, setting aside the presidential reference against him.

Besides its own significance, what makes the judgment unusually extraordinary are the reservations, apprehensions and misunderstandings being thrown out from all the quarters concerned, including those who support it. Hence, it is of utmost importance to be able to see this judgment in its proper context so that its implications may be figured out.

There are three temporal contexts the judgment may be placed in: i) What transpired before the reference was filed against the CJ; ii) What transpired from the moment the CJ was in the Camp Office of the President of Pakistan and Chief of Army Staff, General Pervez Musharraf, to the moment the judgment was announced regarding the CJ’s constitutional petition in the SC of Pakistan, and iii) What is transpiring now after the judgment and what will transpire in future.

Let's start with the second context. It is said that the lawyers’ movement for the restoration of the CJ was inspired by political motivations and that the lawyers were committing to politics. The objection was debated at every forum. But the whole debate missed the point that neither the CJ nor the lawyers were motivated by power politics. The lawyers are not a political party. They are a heterogeneous lot composed of diametrically opposed political and religious groups and parties. The CJ was (and fortunately is) a government official and was fighting his case first in the Supreme Judicial Council and then in the SC of which he was the chief judge. He could not be shown having any such intentions. Nor has any such evidence come to the fore.

It was further objected that while traveling to address the Bar Associations in various cities, he led huge processions. The most 'valid' objection on his traveling to Peshawar by road may be why he did not fly to Peshawar? It was the first travel of the CJ after being rendered ‘ineffective’. He and his lawyers never knew that huge crowds were awaiting the CJ at every milestone.

The objection was that holding rallies was the privilege of political parties’ leaders only, and that the processions were organised by the CJ and his lawyers to build up a certain campaign. Obviously, it was not like that. The people came on their own to these rallies to show their appreciation of the CJ's 'no' to a dictator. After the Peshawar travel and address, the CJ’s lawyers began the practice of announcing the CJ's schedule about going to a city to address the Bar Associations beforehand. Did the CJ or lawyers make any call to the people to come to welcome the CJ? Never!

See what the government was doing to establish its ‘writ’, preparing the affidavits and more references against the CJ in a most bizarre manner. Last but not least, it was trying to influence the honourable judges hearing the CJ’s petition. But the question is whether the CJ himself indulged in any such activity unbecoming of his status. He never spoke a word outside the purview of the constitution. He made speeches and read papers which highlighted the constitutional working of a government and, what is most important and emblematic of his judicial activism, he exhorted the lawyers for massive public interest litigation. Is all this political?

The historic travel of the CJ from Islamabad to Lahore was an eye-opener. The government and its allies shaped things on May 12 in Karachi. The Karachi carnage was the decisive point of the battle that was being fought outside the courtroom, after which apparently the government started retreating from this front. But as the wind had changed its direction, it had to step back from this front also, leaving the ban intact on live coverage of the CJ’s travels and addresses.

Perhaps the government wanted the CJ to sit in his house and see how the court proceeds and decides about his case. From the government’s point of view, the legal community should not have come to the CJ’s aid or to his rescue. All this read together amounts to saying that they should have given the government and its machinery an arena where it could demonstrate its muscle power. That this did not happen frustrated the government, and finally made it fatally helpless. One of the more dangerous objections was that all those CJ’s processions, rallies and addresses were aimed at influencing the honourable court. Some of the CJ’s counsel also made the mistake of uttering some public statements which were unbecoming of them. The statements earned a bad impression for the lawyers’ movement, which was being waged in the name of the rule of law.

The cogency of this objection is fatal. The government, its advocates, its supporters and other independent observers were right in asking, what’s the use of this movement if the case is sub judice? They were justified in raising the questions on the nature, character and objectives of this movement. When asked would they accept the court's verdict, the counsel of the CJ used to reply that they would not if it favoured the government. They were further asked, didn’t they trust the SC? They said they did, but they would not accept a judgment like Justice Munir’s. How can one trust a thing and at the same time mistrust it? The lawyers had no clear answer to this objection. They are still without one.
If the CJ's case was before the country's highest court of law, what was the need for the lawyers, civil society organisations, political activists and ordinary people to come out on the streets? This is the trickiest question that must be answered to understand the July 20 judgment. Also, this brings us to the first context: What transpired before the reference was filed against the CJ?

There have been attempts at finding answers to the question of what transpired before the reference was filed against the Chief Justice (CJ). The focus is the judiciary’s past character. The boldest statement in this regard termed the judiciary as the B team of the Pakistan army and appealed to it to act instead as an A team. The first step towards this transformation of the judiciary was indicated by the reinstatement of the CJ. It was clarified that since in the past the judiciary had been legitimizing military takeovers, it was likely that it did come under pressure of the present military regime to make an influenced verdict. There is a view that says that had the lawyers not come out to rescue the CJ, he may have still been in a state of house arrest. It was the pressure of this movement that got him released.

When his case was before the full bench, weren’t the lawyers then supposed not to be around him? Wasn’t it up to the apex court to see to his petition? Why were the lawyers, civil society and political activists there then? It was none of their business to be around the CJ. Another such attempt presently in vogue takes strength from late Justice Dorab Patel. He is being quoted as justifying his role in the bench that validated the military takeover of General Ziaul Haq on the plea that how could a few judges stop the coup leader when a nation of 160 million remained silent?

The participation of civil society organisations and political and religious parties worked as support to the judges in stopping a coup leader. Does this prove that it was this movement that caused the judgment of July 20? Of course it did, but in the eyes of only those who hold such a view. It is the view of those who are Dorabians and believe that without such a movement no such judgment could have come from the full bench of the apex court. It means that the custodian of the Constitution, the judiciary, needs the people’s support to protect, defend and interpret the Constitution. Without this support, the July 20 verdict could not be such a historic one. If it is so, and as it seems it is so, it is most unfortunate for our country and the constitution as well.

It is here that we enter the third context. What is transpiring now after the judgment and what will transpire in future regarding the judgment? The ethos created by the judgment may appropriately be termed as judicial populism. Under the circumstances, what is more depressing is that we have no inkling of how dangerous and fatal this judicial populism may prove to be. This view is corroborated by the sheer absence of the view that judgments are made in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. Whoever talks about the July 20 judgment, links it with the lawyers’ movement.

They admit that judges are human beings and are influenced by the circumstances prevailing outside the court. But in the same breath, they declare that they judge according to the relevant laws. They are, in fact, caught in a vicious circle. They have no way out. Why? Because they do not want to acknowledge that their movement was a spontaneous outrage against an outrageous act of a dictator that was deliberately transformed into an organised movement. The focus of their movement was the restoration of the CJ and nothing else. It is evident that it has exhausted itself the moment its goal was achieved.

No doubt, their movement gave rise to slogans of utmost importance such as an independent judiciary, rule of law, supremacy of the constitution, and civilian democratic rule. Have these goals been achieved? Or will they be achieved in the near future? The first step in this direction has already been taken with the restoration of the CJ and undermining of the anti-constitution forces and strengthening of the judiciary. Some of the signs, such as the intimidation of lawyers who disagreed with the mainstream lawyers and advocated the government’s case, now seem to have started maturing. Two recent incidents of intimidation — one of a known journalist Khalil Malik, and the other of a lawyer Naeem Bukhari by the legal fraternity — are symptomatic. This indicates that the lawyers’ movement is deliberately being transformed into judicial populism.

It may be asked why were the lawyers afraid of losing the fight? Why didn’t they trust the court? Why did they resort to agitation? Why even now are they and the representatives of civil society and the intelligentsia justifying the popular support to the court to deliver a popular judgment? The truth in fact is that they did not trust the court. Why so? The history of the court’s judgments in such matters has been disappointing altogether. It seemed as if there was no constitution. The courts were there to cook whatever was needed to be offered to the uniformed guests. With such a background, how can one, and if that one happens to be a lawyer who knows well the track record of the courts, trust the courts?

But that’s not all. The story needs to be retold. The man who inhabits the land of Pakistan has no moral values. He has no integrity of character. He is a man of flesh only. He is not a man of principle. He has no regard for the means. His ends justify his means. He has no conscience. In sum, the quality of man in Pakistan is at its lowest. How can then judges go beyond this state of affairs? It is admitted even today by everyone. Judges, whether retired or not, argue like this. After all judges are human beings. This justifies every act of theirs.

People cannot be blamed for whatever has happened. What is required of a judge is integrity of character. Judicial populism, in many people’s view, destroys whatever little is left of the rule of law in Pakistan. It will destroy supremacy of the Constitution, independence of the judiciary, and turn the society of Pakistan into adventurous warring groups of gangsters. My Lords, so many people like me who believe in the rule of law, need to be convinced that you did not need any popular movement to issue the July 20 verdict.

Note: This article was completed in August 2007.

The perils of judicial populism

Judges rule on the basis of law, not public opinion, and they should be totally indifferent to the pressures of the times.
- Warren E. Burger (1907-1995), Chief Justice, US Supreme Court.

The best thing that explains the Supreme Court's (SC’s) July 20 judgment is: it is never too late to mend. As is being claimed, the judgment is historic, it is daring, it is a people's verdict, and a turning point in Pakistan's history. Of course, it is all these or maybe more, but things are meaningful only in a context. Without context, they lose their import. This is more so with the SC's judgment that unanimously reinstated Mr. Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Chief Justice (CJ) of Pakistan, setting aside the presidential reference against him.

Besides its own significance, what makes the judgment unusually extraordinary are the reservations, apprehensions and misunderstandings being thrown out from all the quarters concerned, including those who support it. Hence, it is of utmost importance to be able to see this judgment in its proper context so that its implications may be figured out.

There are three temporal contexts the judgment may be placed in: i) What transpired before the reference was filed against the CJ; ii) What transpired from the moment the CJ was in the Camp Office of the President of Pakistan and Chief of Army Staff, General Pervez Musharraf, to the moment the judgment was announced regarding the CJ’s constitutional petition in the SC of Pakistan, and iii) What is transpiring now after the judgment and what will transpire in future.

Let's start with the second context. It is said that the lawyers’ movement for the restoration of the CJ was inspired by political motivations and that the lawyers were committing to politics. The objection was debated at every forum. But the whole debate missed the point that neither the CJ nor the lawyers were motivated by power politics. The lawyers are not a political party. They are a heterogeneous lot composed of diametrically opposed political and religious groups and parties. The CJ was (and fortunately is) a government official and was fighting his case first in the Supreme Judicial Council and then in the SC of which he was the chief judge. He could not be shown having any such intentions. Nor has any such evidence come to the fore.

It was further objected that while traveling to address the Bar Associations in various cities, he led huge processions. The most 'valid' objection on his traveling to Peshawar by road may be why he did not fly to Peshawar? It was the first travel of the CJ after being rendered ‘ineffective’. He and his lawyers never knew that huge crowds were awaiting the CJ at every milestone.

The objection was that holding rallies was the privilege of political parties’ leaders only, and that the processions were organised by the CJ and his lawyers to build up a certain campaign. Obviously, it was not like that. The people came on their own to these rallies to show their appreciation of the CJ's 'no' to a dictator. After the Peshawar travel and address, the CJ’s lawyers began the practice of announcing the CJ's schedule about going to a city to address the Bar Associations beforehand. Did the CJ or lawyers make any call to the people to come to welcome the CJ? Never!

See what the government was doing to establish its ‘writ’, preparing the affidavits and more references against the CJ in a most bizarre manner. Last but not least, it was trying to influence the honourable judges hearing the CJ’s petition. But the question is whether the CJ himself indulged in any such activity unbecoming of his status. He never spoke a word outside the purview of the constitution. He made speeches and read papers which highlighted the constitutional working of a government and, what is most important and emblematic of his judicial activism, he exhorted the lawyers for massive public interest litigation. Is all this political?

The historic travel of the CJ from Islamabad to Lahore was an eye-opener. The government and its allies shaped things on May 12 in Karachi. The Karachi carnage was the decisive point of the battle that was being fought outside the courtroom, after which apparently the government started retreating from this front. But as the wind had changed its direction, it had to step back from this front also, leaving the ban intact on live coverage of the CJ’s travels and addresses.

Perhaps the government wanted the CJ to sit in his house and see how the court proceeds and decides about his case. From the government’s point of view, the legal community should not have come to the CJ’s aid or to his rescue. All this read together amounts to saying that they should have given the government and its machinery an arena where it could demonstrate its muscle power. That this did not happen frustrated the government, and finally made it fatally helpless. One of the more dangerous objections was that all those CJ’s processions, rallies and addresses were aimed at influencing the honourable court. Some of the CJ’s counsel also made the mistake of uttering some public statements which were unbecoming of them. The statements earned a bad impression for the lawyers’ movement, which was being waged in the name of the rule of law.

The cogency of this objection is fatal. The government, its advocates, its supporters and other independent observers were right in asking, what’s the use of this movement if the case is sub judice? They were justified in raising the questions on the nature, character and objectives of this movement. When asked would they accept the court's verdict, the counsel of the CJ used to reply that they would not if it favoured the government. They were further asked, didn’t they trust the SC? They said they did, but they would not accept a judgment like Justice Munir’s. How can one trust a thing and at the same time mistrust it? The lawyers had no clear answer to this objection. They are still without one.

If the CJ's case was before the country's highest court of law, what was the need for the lawyers, civil society organisations, political activists and ordinary people to come out on the streets? This is the trickiest question that must be answered to understand the July 20 judgment. Also, this brings us to the first context: What transpired before the reference was filed against the CJ?



There have been attempts at finding answers to the question of what transpired before the reference was filed against the Chief Justice (CJ). The focus is the judiciary’s past character. The boldest statement in this regard termed the judiciary as the B team of the Pakistan army and appealed to it to act instead as an A team. The first step towards this transformation of the judiciary was indicated by the reinstatement of the CJ. It was clarified that since in the past the judiciary had been legitimizing military takeovers, it was likely that it did come under pressure of the present military regime to make an influenced verdict. There is a view that says that had the lawyers not come out to rescue the CJ, he may have still been in a state of house arrest. It was the pressure of this movement that got him released.

When his case was before the full bench, weren’t the lawyers then supposed not to be around him? Wasn’t it up to the apex court to see to his petition? Why were the lawyers, civil society and political activists there then? It was none of their business to be around the CJ. Another such attempt presently in vogue takes strength from late Justice Dorab Patel. He is being quoted as justifying his role in the bench that validated the military takeover of General Ziaul Haq on the plea that how could a few judges stop the coup leader when a nation of 160 million remained silent?

The participation of civil society organisations and political and religious parties worked as support to the judges in stopping a coup leader. Does this prove that it was this movement that caused the judgment of July 20? Of course it did, but in the eyes of only those who hold such a view. It is the view of those who are Dorabians and believe that without such a movement no such judgment could have come from the full bench of the apex court. It means that the custodian of the Constitution, the judiciary, needs the people’s support to protect, defend and interpret the Constitution. Without this support, the July 20 verdict could not be such a historic one. If it is so, and as it seems it is so, it is most unfortunate for our country and the constitution as well.

It is here that we enter the third context. What is transpiring now after the judgment and what will transpire in future regarding the judgment? The ethos created by the judgment may appropriately be termed as judicial populism. Under the circumstances, what is more depressing is that we have no inkling of how dangerous and fatal this judicial populism may prove to be. This view is corroborated by the sheer absence of the view that judgments are made in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. Whoever talks about the July 20 judgment, links it with the lawyers’ movement.

They admit that judges are human beings and are influenced by the circumstances prevailing outside the court. But in the same breath, they declare that they judge according to the relevant laws. They are, in fact, caught in a vicious circle. They have no way out. Why? Because they do not want to acknowledge that their movement was a spontaneous outrage against an outrageous act of a dictator that was deliberately transformed into an organised movement. The focus of their movement was the restoration of the CJ and nothing else. It is evident that it has exhausted itself the moment its goal was achieved.

No doubt, their movement gave rise to slogans of utmost importance such as an independent judiciary, rule of law, supremacy of the constitution, and civilian democratic rule. Have these goals been achieved? Or will they be achieved in the near future? The first step in this direction has already been taken with the restoration of the CJ and undermining of the anti-constitution forces and strengthening of the judiciary. Some of the signs, such as the intimidation of lawyers who disagreed with the mainstream lawyers and advocated the government’s case, now seem to have started maturing. Two recent incidents of intimidation — one of a known journalist Khalil Malik, and the other of a lawyer Naeem Bukhari by the legal fraternity — are symptomatic. This indicates that the lawyers’ movement is deliberately being transformed into judicial populism.

It may be asked why were the lawyers afraid of losing the fight? Why didn’t they trust the court? Why did they resort to agitation? Why even now are they and the representatives of civil society and the intelligentsia justifying the popular support to the court to deliver a popular judgment? The truth in fact is that they did not trust the court. Why so? The history of the court’s judgments in such matters has been disappointing altogether. It seemed as if there was no constitution. The courts were there to cook whatever was needed to be offered to the uniformed guests. With such a background, how can one, and if that one happens to be a lawyer who knows well the track record of the courts, trust the courts?

But that’s not all. The story needs to be retold. The man who inhabits the land of Pakistan has no moral values. He has no integrity of character. He is a man of flesh only. He is not a man of principle. He has no regard for the means. His ends justify his means. He has no conscience. In sum, the quality of man in Pakistan is at its lowest. How can then judges go beyond this state of affairs? It is admitted even today by everyone. Judges, whether retired or not, argue like this. After all judges are human beings. This justifies every act of theirs.

People cannot be blamed for whatever has happened. What is required of a judge is integrity of character. Judicial populism, in many people’s view, destroys whatever little is left of the rule of law in Pakistan. It will destroy supremacy of the Constitution, independence of the judiciary, and turn the society of Pakistan into adventurous warring groups of gangsters. My Lords, so many people like me who believe in the rule of law, need to be convinced that you did not need any popular movement to issue the July 20 verdict.

Note: This article was completed in August 2007.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Media consumption?

The theory of media consumption stands vindicated in Pakistan!

The story goes thus:

On June 29 the Federal Defense Minister, Ahmed Mukhtar, who had been sleeping all through the May 2 Abbottabad-Osama-Bin-Laden and May 23 PNS-Mehran-Karachi happenings, awoke to talk to a group of journalists apprising them that Pakistan had asked Washington to vacate the Shamsi airbase in Balochistan which was used to launch Drone strikes against the militants. The Minister remained awake to tell the Reuters on the following day that Islamabad had been pressing the US to leave the base even before the 'Abbottabad incursion' and did so again after the 'incursion.'

Very next day, the message had already generated its rebuke. The US officials in Washington reacted that there was no plan to vacate the base.

Then it was on July 1 that the Federal Minister for Information, Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan, had to settle the matter. She while talking to media persons in Lahore declared: "It was just a statement for the media." She clarified that 'she was a member of the defense committee and the matter was not discussed there.'

Is there something such as for the consumption of media? Should there be something such as for the consumption of media? If so, as is the case, what is media for, then? To consume? To consume endlessly? Yeah, it's a voracious consumer, 24 hour consumer. Now, they say it is its freedom what it chooses to consume? But this freedom of it does not work for a 24 hour long day; that means it has to consume sometime or most of the time it has no choice in having it on its table, and it depends on the nature of its appetite and its taste. There the governments find room to bring in the media to consume they want it to consume; though, there are many other ways governments have got to regulate the appetite and taste of the media.

Functionally, media is sort of an information bridge between the rulers and the ruled. But it has come to be a one-way bridge at best, and most of the time. The two-way traffic on this bridge is not allowed and needs media-men like Omar Cheema and Saleem Shahzad, and may cost life. This is this one-way traffic about which the Federal Information Minister alluded when she brushed aside her government's Defense Minister's substantive talk by terming it something which was meant for the media. Why do media need such stuff? Of course, it does not need any such thing (or otherwise), for its own sake, or for its staff, or for its bosses, or for nothing? Obviously, it goes to the citizens of the country with what it picks up from here and there, or is "given" to it by X, Y or Z. After separating wheat from chaff it brings it to its end-users.

However, it is here that it sets itself to consuming chaff, and not wheat. That is what the Information Minister alluded to. The media picked up what the Defense Minister threw or the Information Minister threw and brought it up to its viewers, the citizens, who are ultimate end-users. In other words, what Information Minister dubbed as 'for media consumption' is for the consumption of the viewers, the citizens, finally.

That is what is known as Public Consumption. Also, government has laws and rules such as official secret acts, or classified information; it goes beyond that and conceals its affairs from the citizens, and makes their leaking a crime. In addition to concealing its affairs, government lies as well as misleads the citizens. It contrives incomplete, incorrect and false information which they mean for “public consumption.” In this game, the media serves as a tool of the government. Otherwise, what else the Information Minister's 'for the media consumption' may amount to?

As no one from the media protested over the Information Minister's 'for the media' theory, it meant not only the media is ready to consume such misleading stuff; it is ready to mislead its viewers also. The question is: Is media an accomplice in the Great Crime being committed in Pakistan against its citizens?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Siege from within

When creative spirit of a nation is arrested from within, it is as vulnerable to external insinuations as is to internal machinations, and can never make any progress.

“Pakistan is under siege.”

We had enemies from the very first day. With time, the list of our enemies grew longer. So much so that today we have neighbors not friendly to us and a world all hostile to us. We are alone in a wilderness created of our own. Isn’t it Greek mythology whose gods and monsters we have resurrected in ourselves? Like the one-eyed monster, we have no second eye to look inward. This on the one hand has transformed us completely into subjects perfectly suitable for psychological pursuits. Or, for instance, how can a judge of a higher court find fault with bare feet of a dancer, and ban it? Or how can his ability and capacity to judge be explained? (One of my friends says it’s a foot fetish!) Go through any book of psychology, and see we are afflicted with almost all the disorders identified there.

On the other hand, this lack of inner eye has deprived us of that touch of philosophical contemplation and composition which is so integral to the continuity of peaceful human co-existence. In every nook and cranny of our society, from a hut to GHQ, and from a patient to the President, we have laid Procrustean beds and are on guard no one unfits it. Those who are over-sized are cut down, and those who are under-sized are pulled up to match the bed’s length. In a sense, we watered and environmentaled all the seeds to grow into the same and, lo, we have Bonsais all around us. Rather, we have shrubs unheard of in the botanical history which are eating out one another, and stretching their tentacles to far off lands to gulp others; it is as if we are working on an agenda of self-annihilation.

At the same time, we have started ‘exporting’ our principles of experimentation with human beings to other regions also. We are packaging our Procrustean beds for other people, and use all means fair or unfair to ‘market-impose’ them, and are thus causing other people to revive their own Procrustean beds and bring them again into practice. This may turn the whole world into a big Procrustean bed!

Alas, our ideological adventurers are no better than Procrustes. In a sense, they are worse! Procrustes used to hack off or stretch his victims to fit his bed, we kill all who unfit our beds, and in some cases, we kill all no matter they fit or unfit our beds. We have left Procrustes far behind in sizing human beings.

How’s that that we have turned into such monsters? Are we different from other people genetically? Some people believe that is so; but that is an expression of distrust and anger. All of us belong to the same progenitor. It is mainly our mental, intellectual, psychological and philosophical make-up and thus our behavior that differentiates us from each other. Otherwise we are the same biological entity.

As it is, like others we are a product of two things, first, what we are endowed with by birth, and second, what we learn and acquire on our own. We are all born with almost the same capacity to learn unless it is some disability that retards us; so naturally there is complete freedom available to everyone to learn and acquire what he wants to learn and acquire. In a sense, it’s the ultimate freedom that if realized can enable us to be master of our destiny. That is, we are free to be what we want to be.

However, some of us happen to make a discovery of an immeasurable magnitude. Somehow, they come to believe that they are free to be what they want to be, and in addition to that, they are free to force others to be what those people do or do not want to be. Such people in fact try to be master of others’ destiny, and deprive them of their freedom. Not only do they use every opportunity and manner to further their Procrustean agenda, they manipulate what is available and manufacture what is needed to achieve their Procrustean objectives. They have no regard for what exists outside of them.

It is rather an edgy difference that distinguishes such people who live to control and mould other people’s lives according to their ideas from those who teach and preach other people to live in accordance with their philosophies. It’s no matter of persuasion or submission, i.e. getting someone converted to your ideas on the one hand by using rhetoric or reason or reward, and on the other, by using fear or force or fraud. This difference is informed among other things by the eternal issue of means and ends, i.e. ends do not justify means. Hence, if one wants to persuade or coerce others into submitting to his ideas there is an inherent danger of curtailing or snatching other people’s freedom. That way others lose their freedom. The issue of corporal punishment to learners is a derivative of the same debate.

But to make this debate possible and also to have it to continue, a theory of conduct is desperately needed in Pakistan. This actually is a sine qua non for all existence let alone for the human existence. That, everyone is free to have his ideas, change them, abandon them, and dispose of them in whatever manner he deems fit, and at the same time he is all free to live according to his own ideas. That no one with whatsoever mandate, personal or otherwise, has any authority to impose himself upon others and to take back others’ freedom on any pretext personal or otherwise. All knowledge presupposes this freedom.

It may be objected that it is practically socially impossible to allow so many individuals to live like that save at the expense of social harmony and peace. That may be so! However, first there is morality and then there is law that takes care of the difference, discord, disharmony, and conflict and clash among individuals of a community.

Morality needs no enforcement; it is sort of self-discipline and a pragmatic way of life though for those who know the value of moral principles and their centrality to human co-existence. Law requires to be enforced by an authority. In this it is as lame as morality. Both are intrinsically orphan waiting to be adopted by some foster parents: moral principles are open to be adopted by, rather obligatory for, every individual be he an ordinary or an extraordinary person, whereas law must be enforced by an authority, which is nothing more than a collection of persons, duly vested with its enforcement. It is of the nature of law that its ignorance by anyone is never construed as an excuse to seek alibi, instead it is binding to all and all are equal before law.

This does not mean that both morality and law lie entirely within their own independent realms. How can we elevate a person to a law office who is morally corrupt? The issue of the present chief justice’s daughter’s enhanced marks is a case in point. Also, how can an outlaw be declared morally upright? The case of Mr. Asif Ali Zardari is not entirely irrelevant provided he should have been cleared by an independent court of all the accusations and allegations brought against him by anyone. Morality preconditions, contextualizes and encompasses law.

Against this backdrop, present circumstances of the Pakistani state are extremely hopeless. It needs no painstaking to bring out the rampant moral-lessness, value-lessness, and law-lessness at every level of our society. We are all witness to it. Rather, part of it. But isn’t it the same cliché everyone is wont of using? Yeah, apparently it seems so. But the argument this article is going to make is different.

To blame all or to accuse all is jut meaningless. Likewise, to characterize a society by anything is just like crying over spilt milk. To say that Pakistani society has no morals, no values, no norms, and no principles to follow or that it is a lawless society is just empty talk. Also, it does not mean, as is usually implied, that there are good moral principled or law-abiding people in every society, and we have our share of such goody-goodies.

As argued earlier, the nature of morals is different from laws; no prescribed punishment is attached with them and everyone is free to follow or defy them, so no responsibility can be fixed for transgressing morals or values, norms or principles. In that they are a private thing. Some private organizations and institutions use them as laws, i.e. they punish their members or employees in case of violations of their adopted norms. They are private because no one owns and implement them, i.e. no collective authority possesses them and their enforcement. Hence, the meaningless and emptiness of the statement that our society is devoid of all morals, values, norms and principles! Hence, the lack of fixing any responsibility whatsoever for any violation by anyone!

That’s completely different in the realm of laws. All the laws are absolutely meaningful and full of content. We may decry them, analyze them, and expose their content and intent. All the laws are written with clearly defined terms of punishment in case of their violation. We may criticize and declare these as inhuman or savage. This enables the fixing of responsibility beyond any doubt at least within a demarcated domain of adjudication. That is why all the statements made on the bases of law always amount to clearly defined meanings and fixed responsibility.

Thus, when this article talks of Pakistan as a lawless society, and as a society without any morals or values or norms, it definitely means something different from just what the above-mentioned cliché hints at. What this article means is clearly in terms of fixing responsibility, and of course not just the lamentable state of our society. It talks of a definite relationship between morality and law as it manifests in our society. In other words, it purports to formulate a thesis that throughout the six decades of Pakistan the absence of rule of law has negatively impacted on all of our moral and social values, and the efficacy of norms and principles for a virtuous life, and thus the responsibility both for turning Pakistan into a lawless society and utter degradation of the values is but on the shoulders of those who were lawfully and constitutionally vested with establishing rule of law, dispensing justice, and protecting life and property, and rights and freedoms of all the citizens of Pakistan without any discrimination, and also those who were lawfully designated to aid in the fulfillment of these basic duties of the state but instead of following their lawful functions they violated them with pronounced disregard, and it were they who played the major and active role in destroying the value system in Pakistan. No damage is greater than that.

Thus, it is the utter disregard for law and its deliberate trashing verily by those who were trusted with its sanctity and custody that hacked at the root of all morality. As in spite of many a religious teaching and their doctrine of reward and punishment, and as it is evident from people’s outward behavior and practically from their actions also, that they have already learned that that is all what is here in this world. Likewise, centuries’ experience of lawless and immoral governments and rulers made people learn how to live without any value system or in the midst of a value system that is based on the efficacy of force. This experience may be generalized thus: it is the absence of rule of law that nourishes and strengthens not only law-lessness but moral-lessness and value-lessness also. Because, in a sense, in such a society sticking to morals, values and principles does not pay. In our case, it is more than that since instead of paying it makes one lose what he already possesses. Hence, in a perfect vacuum of law majority of people abandon all morality.

In point of fact, if we do not let laws rule, reign of lawlessness will prevail. If we do not establish rule of law, rule of criminals will emerge. If the rule of criminals establishes itself, all the traces of morality will disappear. What else have we got in Pakistan other than that? Actually the absence of rule of law was not accidental in Pakistan. It was not done in ignorance. It is a cold-blooded crime. What greater evidence is required to prove that point but the way the rule of law movement has been thwarted first by the military elite and then by the Pakistan Peoples Party government in unison with their masters. This has pushed the crisis to its peak point where endures no law and no morality in Pakistan.

There are three main culprits lawfully and constitutionally responsible for bringing Pakistan on the brink of the precipice. First, it is the military elite which represent force; second, it is the judicial elite which represent law; and then, it is the political elite which represent democratic mandate. Far from fulfilling their lawful and constitutional duties all these elites constantly acted in violation of those duties. Instead of honoring their constitutional mandates, all these elites stepped out of their constitutional domains and made a travesty of everything from law and constitution of the land to morality. Last but not least, they all in collusion seized the state of Pakistan and set to further their elitist agenda to the best of their interests.

Briefly dwelling on their destructive role, it is sufficient to mention that: how the military elite staged coups, suspended and disfigured the constitution, ruled the country by force, and exercised its influence from behind while it was not present on the scene. How the judicial elite validated these coups starkly against the dictates of the constitution, allowed the transgressors to rule and to amend the constitution. How the political elite perennially betrayed their democratic mandate and the cause of the fundamental rights of the people who put them into power, how it played in the hands of the military elite and how in complicity with it it never let those institutions, such as independent judiciary, rule of law, come into existence and strengthen which could safeguard the rights and freedoms of the people, and how it validated the dictators-forced amendments in the constitution.

The worst form of lawlessness which we are witnessing today in most of the areas of Pakistan such as those on the border of Afghanistan and the biggest city of Karachi is the ultimate result of all these criminalities of these elites. Their grabbing and transforming of Pakistan into an elitist state was the greatest tragedy that could happen to a country. These elites deprived the state of Pakistan from playing its due role, i.e. the role of an arbitrator, mediator, moderator, and a referee, the task of which is to arbitrate, mediate, moderate, and referee between the two or more disputant parties and settle and resolve the conflict to the satisfaction of both or all irrespective of the nature of those conflicts which may belong to the realm of civil, political, economic rights, or relating to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the citizens. In other words, they stripped the state of its protective function, i.e. protection of its citizens’ life, property and rights and freedom.

At the worst, these elites made the state of Pakistan itself one of the disputant parties. Not only politically, and economically, did the state stand by one party but spiritually and religiously also it took sides, and emerged as a contestant itself. This divided the society deeply negatively, and turned Pakistan permanently into an arena where countless tugs of wars were and are being fought to gain the control over the state. The resultant internal strife consumed the energies of both the state and the society of Pakistan. It’s the same fire that is burning us today.

It is in this context that the nature and intent of the Objectives Resolution may best be explained though it contained cursory mention to people’s fundamental rights too. Also, this helps understand the acute constitutional crisis that afflicted Pakistan in its formative years till the constitution of 1973 was agreed upon and enforced. In retrospective, it is easier to analyze how this constitution was made possible in 1973.

Actually, the period till 1973 is all fraught with a neck and neck fight between the two major elites, military and political to take control of the state. The making and unmaking of various governments and constitutions during this period is sufficient to prove the point. The judicial elite being too week to take sides on its own, permanently relaxed in the lap of the powerful one; while the political elite when apparently in power always, as it is doing today, tried to subdue it to its dictates but failed repeatedly.

However, it was in the early 1970s that in the wake of the first general elections and the subsequent cut-throat power struggle between two major victor parties, i.e. Awami League and Pakistan Peoples Party, in which military elite put its weight on the side of the political elite of the Western wing of Pakistan, and as a result of which Bangladesh came into being, that the military elite was at its weakest. The war that Pakistan army lost in the Eastern wing found about a hundred thousand of its army men as prisoners of war in India and it had left that elite too frail and unprepared to assert itself and its supremacy. That is how the constitution of 1973 sailed through. As it is, the hands that resuscitated the fainted patient were hacked off just after four years in 1977 and once again the military elite established its rule.

Thus, the state of Pakistan gradually reached a point where today it has lost all moral and constitutional legitimacy. By taking on a role of a party and completely abandoning its protective role and the role of a mediator and referee, it let the Pandora’s political box open. From the very beginning ensued a fierce struggle between the various sections of the society, in addition to the two bigger elites the military and the politicians, to gain the control of the state which with the passage of time intensified. All the power politics, and its offshoots such as the military takeovers, constitutional breakdowns, political, economic, cultural and religious persecutions are the major milestones on this way down.

It was during the last days of the People’s Government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto that the Pandora’s religious box’s lid was slid a bit (the Pandora’s economic box had already been smashed into pieces in his government’s earlier years), but it was wide-open during the 3rd military coup when General Zia-ul-Haq’s Martial Law disfigured everything civil, moral, lawful and constitutional in Pakistan. Since then, we have witnessed the creation of a number of (and strengthening of the previously existing) armed and un-armed political and non-political, religious and non-religious mafia like groups vying for the control of the state to enforce their agendas. The armed groups found the Zia-ul-Haqqian environment especially conducive for their growth.

The same phenomenon of the absence of a genuinely neutralized and legitimized state let loose countless autonomous entities, from individual persons to well-knit groups, which monopolized the use of force to promote their interests and ideologies. They started making use of every thing and every means no matter moral or immoral, legal or illegal, constitutional or un-constitutional, peaceful or forceful, to compel the individual citizens to believe and behave but in accordance with their prescribed ideological manuals. This gave rise, in addition to political and economic, to moral and cultural policing in every street and at every road throughout Pakistan. In sum, that was the final touch to the siege from within.

That siege from within arrested the creative and enterprising spirit of the nation and left it in a completely dried, wrung and barren state. No sphere of life, learning, earning and recreation could escape that mischievous moral policing. Woman was particularly the target of that devilry. She was no more an individual; rather debased to the status of a soul-less object. The tentacles of moral policing trespassed every encirclement of human civilization from one’s privacy to the premises of someone’s home. No one remained safe even within one’s house. The lot of the ordinary people was made miserable; they were turned into helpless prisoners in their own homes.

Socially and politically, it begot the worst type of parasites. As the siege retarded the real spontaneous growth, a parasitic economy emerged. From a pariah to a president, no one was happy to earn fairly and honestly. Everyone who got the opportunity whether he was a laborer or an industrialist tried to take advantage of it to amass wealth by grabbing other people’s money i.e. tax money in whatever manner he could do that. All politics became the art of living and living lavishly at the expense of others. Outside government, goons and mafia live like that.

Such are the times and circumstances we are living in. That’s the Pakistan we are having today. This article has only generalized what is happening around. No examples have been given since they abound. No mentions have been made, save a few, since there are innumerable staring us in the face. The first thing we need to know is that we are not under siege from outside, but from within. That’s the hard truth! That is what this article has attempted to show. Also, it has tried to show how that siege was laid to.

However, what this article has avoided to venture at is why we were besieged from within? That such a question pertains to the realm of psychology which may not provide us with a satisfactory answer is what the writer has no quarrel with. In his view, even if we find the answer to that question why an oppressor behaves like an oppressor, it will not help a bit to stop him from behaving like that.

Also, it is the weaker, the oppressed one who is the real culprit; it is he who lets the oppressor oppress him whereas it is characteristic of the human spirit that it is absolutely free, i.e. we have an absolutely free soul. When one makes him believe that he has been besieged, he is not free. He is free only when he fights to break the siege. It is admitted that harder is to fight against the siege from within than from without because our enemy is inside us. But fight we have to go for.

Thus the second thing we need to know is that we are free and we can make that siege disappear. What is possible and is practicable is that we the ordinary people, we the oppressed ones, we the besieged ones, do not let the oppressor oppress us, the besieger besiege us. We need to be self-assured that we are not victims, that we are free people. It is as simple as that. It is our natural and inalienable right not to be besieged by anyone, not to be oppressed by anyone. But by just law alone! In case, we have been oppressed, laid siege to, be it from within or without, it is morally incumbent on us to assert and stand for our rights and freedoms, and struggle for that siege to be lifted. That’s the simple way ahead to the resolution of our complex problems! That’s what we are required to follow in Pakistan for the siege from within to be lifted once and for all to regain the lost paradise of our rights and freedoms!

Note: This article was completed in December 2008.

Siege from within

When creative spirit of a nation is arrested from within, it is as vulnerable to external insinuations as is to internal machinations, and can never make any progress.

“Pakistan is under siege.”

We had enemies from the very first day. With time, the list of our enemies grew longer. So much so that today we have neighbors not friendly to us and a world all hostile to us. We are alone in a wilderness created of our own. Isn’t it Greek mythology whose gods and monsters we have resurrected in ourselves? Like the one-eyed monster, we have no second eye to look inward. This on the one hand has transformed us completely into subjects perfectly suitable for psychological pursuits. Or, for instance, how can a judge of a higher court find fault with bare feet of a dancer, and ban it? Or how can his ability and capacity to judge be explained? (One of my friends says it’s a foot fetish!) Go through any book of psychology, and see we are afflicted with almost all the disorders identified there.

On the other hand, this lack of inner eye has deprived us of that touch of philosophical contemplation and composition which is so integral to the continuity of peaceful human co-existence. In every nook and cranny of our society, from a hut to GHQ, and from a patient to the President, we have laid Procrustean beds and are on guard no one unfits it. Those who are over-sized are cut down, and those who are under-sized are pulled up to match the bed’s length. In a sense, we watered and environmentaled all the seeds to grow into the same and, lo, we have Bonsais all around us. Rather, we have shrubs unheard of in the botanical history which are eating out one another, and stretching their tentacles to far off lands to gulp others; it is as if we are working on an agenda of self-annihilation.

At the same time, we have started ‘exporting’ our principles of experimentation with human beings to other regions also. We are packaging our Procrustean beds for other people, and use all means fair or unfair to ‘market-impose’ them, and are thus causing other people to revive their own Procrustean beds and bring them again into practice. This may turn the whole world into a big Procrustean bed!

Alas, our ideological adventurers are no better than Procrustes. In a sense, they are worse! Procrustes used to hack off or stretch his victims to fit his bed, we kill all who unfit our beds, and in some cases, we kill all no matter they fit or unfit our beds. We have left Procrustes far behind in sizing human beings.

How’s that that we have turned into such monsters? Are we different from other people genetically? Some people believe that is so; but that is an expression of distrust and anger. All of us belong to the same progenitor. It is mainly our mental, intellectual, psychological and philosophical make-up and thus our behavior that differentiates us from each other. Otherwise we are the same biological entity.

As it is, like others we are a product of two things, first, what we are endowed with by birth, and second, what we learn and acquire on our own. We are all born with almost the same capacity to learn unless it is some disability that retards us; so naturally there is complete freedom available to everyone to learn and acquire what he wants to learn and acquire. In a sense, it’s the ultimate freedom that if realized can enable us to be master of our destiny. That is, we are free to be what we want to be.

However, some of us happen to make a discovery of an immeasurable magnitude. Somehow, they come to believe that they are free to be what they want to be, and in addition to that, they are free to force others to be what those people do or do not want to be. Such people in fact try to be master of others’ destiny, and deprive them of their freedom. Not only do they use every opportunity and manner to further their Procrustean agenda, they manipulate what is available and manufacture what is needed to achieve their Procrustean objectives. They have no regard for what exists outside of them.

It is rather an edgy difference that distinguishes such people who live to control and mould other people’s lives according to their ideas from those who teach and preach other people to live in accordance with their philosophies. It’s no matter of persuasion or submission, i.e. getting someone converted to your ideas on the one hand by using rhetoric or reason or reward, and on the other, by using fear or force or fraud. This difference is informed among other things by the eternal issue of means and ends, i.e. ends do not justify means. Hence, if one wants to persuade or coerce others into submitting to his ideas there is an inherent danger of curtailing or snatching other people’s freedom. That way others lose their freedom. The issue of corporal punishment to learners is a derivative of the same debate.

But to make this debate possible and also to have it to continue, a theory of conduct is desperately needed in Pakistan. This actually is a sine qua non for all existence let alone for the human existence. That, everyone is free to have his ideas, change them, abandon them, and dispose of them in whatever manner he deems fit, and at the same time he is all free to live according to his own ideas. That no one with whatsoever mandate, personal or otherwise, has any authority to impose himself upon others and to take back others’ freedom on any pretext personal or otherwise. All knowledge presupposes this freedom.

It may be objected that it is practically socially impossible to allow so many individuals to live like that save at the expense of social harmony and peace. That may be so! However, first there is morality and then there is law that takes care of the difference, discord, disharmony, and conflict and clash among individuals of a community.

Morality needs no enforcement; it is sort of self-discipline and a pragmatic way of life though for those who know the value of moral principles and their centrality to human co-existence. Law requires to be enforced by an authority. In this it is as lame as morality. Both are intrinsically orphan waiting to be adopted by some foster parents: moral principles are open to be adopted by, rather obligatory for, every individual be he an ordinary or an extraordinary person, whereas law must be enforced by an authority, which is nothing more than a collection of persons, duly vested with its enforcement. It is of the nature of law that its ignorance by anyone is never construed as an excuse to seek alibi, instead it is binding to all and all are equal before law.

This does not mean that both morality and law lie entirely within their own independent realms. How can we elevate a person to a law office who is morally corrupt? The issue of the present chief justice’s daughter’s enhanced marks is a case in point. Also, how can an outlaw be declared morally upright? The case of Mr. Asif Ali Zardari is not entirely irrelevant provided he should have been cleared by an independent court of all the accusations and allegations brought against him by anyone. Morality preconditions, contextualizes and encompasses law.

Against this backdrop, present circumstances of the Pakistani state are extremely hopeless. It needs no painstaking to bring out the rampant moral-lessness, value-lessness, and law-lessness at every level of our society. We are all witness to it. Rather, part of it. But isn’t it the same cliché everyone is wont of using? Yeah, apparently it seems so. But the argument this article is going to make is different.

To blame all or to accuse all is jut meaningless. Likewise, to characterize a society by anything is just like crying over spilt milk. To say that Pakistani society has no morals, no values, no norms, and no principles to follow or that it is a lawless society is just empty talk. Also, it does not mean, as is usually implied, that there are good moral principled or law-abiding people in every society, and we have our share of such goody-goodies.

As argued earlier, the nature of morals is different from laws; no prescribed punishment is attached with them and everyone is free to follow or defy them, so no responsibility can be fixed for transgressing morals or values, norms or principles. In that they are a private thing. Some private organizations and institutions use them as laws, i.e. they punish their members or employees in case of violations of their adopted norms. They are private because no one owns and implement them, i.e. no collective authority possesses them and their enforcement. Hence, the meaningless and emptiness of the statement that our society is devoid of all morals, values, norms and principles! Hence, the lack of fixing any responsibility whatsoever for any violation by anyone!

That’s completely different in the realm of laws. All the laws are absolutely meaningful and full of content. We may decry them, analyze them, and expose their content and intent. All the laws are written with clearly defined terms of punishment in case of their violation. We may criticize and declare these as inhuman or savage. This enables the fixing of responsibility beyond any doubt at least within a demarcated domain of adjudication. That is why all the statements made on the bases of law always amount to clearly defined meanings and fixed responsibility.

Thus, when this article talks of Pakistan as a lawless society, and as a society without any morals or values or norms, it definitely means something different from just what the above-mentioned cliché hints at. What this article means is clearly in terms of fixing responsibility, and of course not just the lamentable state of our society. It talks of a definite relationship between morality and law as it manifests in our society. In other words, it purports to formulate a thesis that throughout the six decades of Pakistan the absence of rule of law has negatively impacted on all of our moral and social values, and the efficacy of norms and principles for a virtuous life, and thus the responsibility both for turning Pakistan into a lawless society and utter degradation of the values is but on the shoulders of those who were lawfully and constitutionally vested with establishing rule of law, dispensing justice, and protecting life and property, and rights and freedoms of all the citizens of Pakistan without any discrimination, and also those who were lawfully designated to aid in the fulfillment of these basic duties of the state but instead of following their lawful functions they violated them with pronounced disregard, and it were they who played the major and active role in destroying the value system in Pakistan. No damage is greater than that.

Thus, it is the utter disregard for law and its deliberate trashing verily by those who were trusted with its sanctity and custody that hacked at the root of all morality. As in spite of many a religious teaching and their doctrine of reward and punishment, and as it is evident from people’s outward behavior and practically from their actions also, that they have already learned that that is all what is here in this world. Likewise, centuries’ experience of lawless and immoral governments and rulers made people learn how to live without any value system or in the midst of a value system that is based on the efficacy of force. This experience may be generalized thus: it is the absence of rule of law that nourishes and strengthens not only law-lessness but moral-lessness and value-lessness also. Because, in a sense, in such a society sticking to morals, values and principles does not pay. In our case, it is more than that since instead of paying it makes one lose what he already possesses. Hence, in a perfect vacuum of law majority of people abandon all morality.

In point of fact, if we do not let laws rule, reign of lawlessness will prevail. If we do not establish rule of law, rule of criminals will emerge. If the rule of criminals establishes itself, all the traces of morality will disappear. What else have we got in Pakistan other than that? Actually the absence of rule of law was not accidental in Pakistan. It was not done in ignorance. It is a cold-blooded crime. What greater evidence is required to prove that point but the way the rule of law movement has been thwarted first by the military elite and then by the Pakistan Peoples Party government in unison with their masters. This has pushed the crisis to its peak point where endures no law and no morality in Pakistan.

There are three main culprits lawfully and constitutionally responsible for bringing Pakistan on the brink of the precipice. First, it is the military elite which represent force; second, it is the judicial elite which represent law; and then, it is the political elite which represent democratic mandate. Far from fulfilling their lawful and constitutional duties all these elites constantly acted in violation of those duties. Instead of honoring their constitutional mandates, all these elites stepped out of their constitutional domains and made a travesty of everything from law and constitution of the land to morality. Last but not least, they all in collusion seized the state of Pakistan and set to further their elitist agenda to the best of their interests.

Briefly dwelling on their destructive role, it is sufficient to mention that: how the military elite staged coups, suspended and disfigured the constitution, ruled the country by force, and exercised its influence from behind while it was not present on the scene. How the judicial elite validated these coups starkly against the dictates of the constitution, allowed the transgressors to rule and to amend the constitution. How the political elite perennially betrayed their democratic mandate and the cause of the fundamental rights of the people who put them into power, how it played in the hands of the military elite and how in complicity with it it never let those institutions, such as independent judiciary, rule of law, come into existence and strengthen which could safeguard the rights and freedoms of the people, and how it validated the dictators-forced amendments in the constitution.

The worst form of lawlessness which we are witnessing today in most of the areas of Pakistan such as those on the border of Afghanistan and the biggest city of Karachi is the ultimate result of all these criminalities of these elites. Their grabbing and transforming of Pakistan into an elitist state was the greatest tragedy that could happen to a country. These elites deprived the state of Pakistan from playing its due role, i.e. the role of an arbitrator, mediator, moderator, and a referee, the task of which is to arbitrate, mediate, moderate, and referee between the two or more disputant parties and settle and resolve the conflict to the satisfaction of both or all irrespective of the nature of those conflicts which may belong to the realm of civil, political, economic rights, or relating to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the citizens. In other words, they stripped the state of its protective function, i.e. protection of its citizens’ life, property and rights and freedom.

At the worst, these elites made the state of Pakistan itself one of the disputant parties. Not only politically, and economically, did the state stand by one party but spiritually and religiously also it took sides, and emerged as a contestant itself. This divided the society deeply negatively, and turned Pakistan permanently into an arena where countless tugs of wars were and are being fought to gain the control over the state. The resultant internal strife consumed the energies of both the state and the society of Pakistan. It’s the same fire that is burning us today.

It is in this context that the nature and intent of the Objectives Resolution may best be explained though it contained cursory mention to people’s fundamental rights too. Also, this helps understand the acute constitutional crisis that afflicted Pakistan in its formative years till the constitution of 1973 was agreed upon and enforced. In retrospective, it is easier to analyze how this constitution was made possible in 1973.

Actually, the period till 1973 is all fraught with a neck and neck fight between the two major elites, military and political to take control of the state. The making and unmaking of various governments and constitutions during this period is sufficient to prove the point. The judicial elite being too week to take sides on its own, permanently relaxed in the lap of the powerful one; while the political elite when apparently in power always, as it is doing today, tried to subdue it to its dictates but failed repeatedly.

However, it was in the early 1970s that in the wake of the first general elections and the subsequent cut-throat power struggle between two major victor parties, i.e. Awami League and Pakistan Peoples Party, in which military elite put its weight on the side of the political elite of the Western wing of Pakistan, and as a result of which Bangladesh came into being, that the military elite was at its weakest. The war that Pakistan army lost in the Eastern wing found about a hundred thousand of its army men as prisoners of war in India and it had left that elite too frail and unprepared to assert itself and its supremacy. That is how the constitution of 1973 sailed through. As it is, the hands that resuscitated the fainted patient were hacked off just after four years in 1977 and once again the military elite established its rule.

Thus, the state of Pakistan gradually reached a point where today it has lost all moral and constitutional legitimacy. By taking on a role of a party and completely abandoning its protective role and the role of a mediator and referee, it let the Pandora’s political box open. From the very beginning ensued a fierce struggle between the various sections of the society, in addition to the two bigger elites the military and the politicians, to gain the control of the state which with the passage of time intensified. All the power politics, and its offshoots such as the military takeovers, constitutional breakdowns, political, economic, cultural and religious persecutions are the major milestones on this way down.

It was during the last days of the People’s Government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto that the Pandora’s religious box’s lid was slid a bit (the Pandora’s economic box had already been smashed into pieces in his government’s earlier years), but it was wide-open during the 3rd military coup when General Zia-ul-Haq’s Martial Law disfigured everything civil, moral, lawful and constitutional in Pakistan. Since then, we have witnessed the creation of a number of (and strengthening of the previously existing) armed and un-armed political and non-political, religious and non-religious mafia like groups vying for the control of the state to enforce their agendas. The armed groups found the Zia-ul-Haqqian environment especially conducive for their growth.

The same phenomenon of the absence of a genuinely neutralized and legitimized state let loose countless autonomous entities, from individual persons to well-knit groups, which monopolized the use of force to promote their interests and ideologies. They started making use of every thing and every means no matter moral or immoral, legal or illegal, constitutional or un-constitutional, peaceful or forceful, to compel the individual citizens to believe and behave but in accordance with their prescribed ideological manuals. This gave rise, in addition to political and economic, to moral and cultural policing in every street and at every road throughout Pakistan. In sum, that was the final touch to the siege from within.

That siege from within arrested the creative and enterprising spirit of the nation and left it in a completely dried, wrung and barren state. No sphere of life, learning, earning and recreation could escape that mischievous moral policing. Woman was particularly the target of that devilry. She was no more an individual; rather debased to the status of a soul-less object. The tentacles of moral policing trespassed every encirclement of human civilization from one’s privacy to the premises of someone’s home. No one remained safe even within one’s house. The lot of the ordinary people was made miserable; they were turned into helpless prisoners in their own homes.

Socially and politically, it begot the worst type of parasites. As the siege retarded the real spontaneous growth, a parasitic economy emerged. From a pariah to a president, no one was happy to earn fairly and honestly. Everyone who got the opportunity whether he was a laborer or an industrialist tried to take advantage of it to amass wealth by grabbing other people’s money i.e. tax money in whatever manner he could do that. All politics became the art of living and living lavishly at the expense of others. Outside government, goons and mafia live like that.

Such are the times and circumstances we are living in. That’s the Pakistan we are having today. This article has only generalized what is happening around. No examples have been given since they abound. No mentions have been made, save a few, since there are innumerable staring us in the face. The first thing we need to know is that we are not under siege from outside, but from within. That’s the hard truth! That is what this article has attempted to show. Also, it has tried to show how that siege was laid to.

However, what this article has avoided to venture at is why we were besieged from within? That such a question pertains to the realm of psychology which may not provide us with a satisfactory answer is what the writer has no quarrel with. In his view, even if we find the answer to that question why an oppressor behaves like an oppressor, it will not help a bit to stop him from behaving like that.

Also, it is the weaker, the oppressed one who is the real culprit; it is he who lets the oppressor oppress him whereas it is characteristic of the human spirit that it is absolutely free, i.e. we have an absolutely free soul. When one makes him believe that he has been besieged, he is not free. He is free only when he fights to break the siege. It is admitted that harder is to fight against the siege from within than from without because our enemy is inside us. But fight we have to go for.

Thus the second thing we need to know is that we are free and we can make that siege disappear. What is possible and is practicable is that we the ordinary people, we the oppressed ones, we the besieged ones, do not let the oppressor oppress us, the besieger besiege us. We need to be self-assured that we are not victims, that we are free people. It is as simple as that. It is our natural and inalienable right not to be besieged by anyone, not to be oppressed by anyone. But by just law alone! In case, we have been oppressed, laid siege to, be it from within or without, it is morally incumbent on us to assert and stand for our rights and freedoms, and struggle for that siege to be lifted. That’s the simple way ahead to the resolution of our complex problems! That’s what we are required to follow in Pakistan for the siege from within to be lifted once and for all to regain the lost paradise of our rights and freedoms!

Note: This article was completed in December 2008.