Sunday, April 21, 2013

Charter of Liberty – making fundamental rights inviolable

When I read the Charter of Democracy, the idea of rebutting it, and writing a new charter struck me. This found shape in the Charter of Liberty. I started working on it on April 14, 2007, and on May 17, 2007, completed it.

The Charter of Liberty responds to the Charter of Democracy issued by Pakistan Muslim League (N) and Pakistan Peoples Party and signed by their respective leaders and former Prime Ministers of Pakistan Mian Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto. The 70-page document presents a critique of the Charter of Democracy and is an independent Charter of Liberty also. It seeks to present a solution to the myriad problems and unimaginable sufferings faced by the ordinary people of Pakistan to achieve freedom and prosperity for all its individual citizens.

The Charter says that the charge-sheet against the political parties is not different from the one they make against the military dictatorships. Not only have they been contriving political crises, eroding the federation’s unity, subordinating all of the state institutions, marginalizing civil society, making a mockery of the Constitution and its representative institutions, causing by their bad policies poverty, unemployment and inequality, brutalizing society, breaking down the rule of law, and by forming state monopolies creating unprecedented hardships for the people; but they also played the role of a partial or total accomplice to the military dictatorships. To say the least, they never opted for principled politics. They always avoided the real issues, misguiding and misleading people. Utterly immoral, they are guilty of politics of opportunism.

The Charter further asserts that the military dictatorships are not alone in playing havoc with the nation’s destiny, creating conditions disallowing the progress of the people and the flowering of democracy, undermining the people’s mandate and sovereign will of the people. The political parties have been and are their greatest collaborators. Had it not been so, it would have been very difficult for the dictators to create the illusion of democracy.

The Charter of Liberty explains that if the political parties in power establish only a limited government, an independent judiciary, rule of law and merit, protection of private property, free markets and a free and independent media; everything else will take care of itself. This is how democracy can work in Pakistan.

The Charter further maintains that a constitution is an instrument for the people to restrain the government; whereas in Pakistan it was turned into an instrument for government to restrain the people. It holds that the sole purpose of a constitution is to establish a government to ensure, secure and protect the fundamental inalienable rights of the citizens. These rights include their right to life, liberty, happiness; their freedom to think, express and publish; freedom to assemble, freedom to free exercise of their belief; freedom to trade and business; and their right to justice.

The Charter of Liberty asserts that the Constitution of Pakistan be amended by the parliament in such a manner that will bring it in harmony with the Charter of Liberty; that any amendment made by the parliament in the Constitution be reviewed by the Supreme Court to see whether it is in harmony with the Charter of Liberty or not; that if the Supreme Court finds an amendment not in line with the demands of the Charter of Liberty, it may declare it null and void or may direct the parliament to review it by issuing proper guidelines; and that in the Constitution be inserted a section on the pattern of American Bill of Rights to ensure that no legislation will be made by any government in any manner to expand its powers or to curtail the inalienable rights and freedoms of the people of Pakistan.

Alternate Solutions Institute published the Charter of Liberty and released it on October 23, 2007.

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