Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Misr, Mursi Aur Fauji Ashrafiya

Please note: This post has been shifted to the Urdu Blog - Civil Pakistan. To see it, click the link below:

Monday, July 29, 2013

Enter the new age of slavery

Morality and fundamental rights are the first principles which must take precedence over everything, be it ideologies, religions, systems of government, on the one hand, or elites, aristocracies, theocracies, bureaucracies, dictatorships and democracies, on the other. That is the lesson that human civilization teaches us, and without which a society based on co-existence cannot exist.

It is the failure to learn this that explains the emergence, persistence and spread of world terrorism nearly unprecedented in the history of violent movements. Presently al-Qaeda, Taliban and the likes of them are its manifestations. Certain characteristics single this terrorism out as the most atrocious human activity on our earth.

This terrorism has a clearly stated and demonstrated political agenda that transcends frontiers and peoples. Not only does it envisage a theocratic world government, it is hell-bent upon making it happen at any cost. It is using all violent methods, those already in use and those never dreamt of, to achieve its goal.

This terrorism is not confined to a specific geographical area. Its members, activists, partners, supporters, and sympathizers are scattered all over the inhabited earth. In the past, they were usually concentrated in this or that specific location. This time they exist almost everywhere.

This terrorism enjoys wider backing of supporters and sympathizers all over the world not only in the Muslim population but also among those who favor targeting the centers of economic and technological powers they hate.

This terrorism believes, both ideologically and strategically, that the ends justifies the means. It has repudiated all values humans have come to hold as most precious: Love for each other, regard for human life, freedom of conscience, freedom of professing and practicing religion, the right to pursue happiness, tolerance - all sacrificed at the altar of its war.

This terrorism has unleashed a war which knows no rules. How impressive of us that if war could not be ruled out completely, at least we made some humane rules to be followed by warring parties, such as not targeting civilians. But this terrorism kills everyone including children and women. It even uses them as its blasting instruments.

Last but not least, this terrorism is the friend of none, and the enemy of all. In the past, such movements tried to win supporters. It has no such concern of earning friends, maybe because it has its supporters already on its side or it believes it is the only right path. Its theocratic agenda is narrow but it has no organized clerical authority to bring uniformity to differences tearing at its own ranks. That is why frequent internal fighting is common. It may indeed be destined, due to differences of opinion or practice, to come down hard on its own supporters and sympathizers in its puritanical countdown. This is its internal dialectic.

This makes this terrorism callously ideological, mercilessly inhuman, and dangerously destructive. And all that in the name of faith! It poses a unique threat to human civilization. It threatens to enslave free humanity once again. Forget the age of physical slavery, or economic enslavement by ruling cliques. With this terrorism raging from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Iraq, Somalia and Yemen, enters the specter of a new age of theocratic slavery. A new slavery of the human conscience is on the top of this terrorism’s agenda.

It was money which freed men from physical slavery by enabling them to meet their needs independently of their masters, but it was the physical person whom money freed; his mind and soul were already free. This terrorism attempts to enslave one’s mind and soul. It is intent upon seizing political power which controls the freeing power of money also, and thus invests immense power in the hands of political masters, to enslave bodies as well as minds and souls.

Those who back this terrorism think it will enslave only others, by forcing them to embrace its truth, but they are mistaken. By its very nature, this terrorism is nihilist, directed towards excluding everyone and everything different from it. Thus, it is destined to annihilate its own self in the end. This terrorism like a black hole will gulp everything to nothingness. It is already killing and destroying indiscriminately.

The apologists of this terrorism blame the US and NATO presence in Afghanistan as the cause of its destructive aggression. In Pakistan this terrorism targets anyone and anything ever said to have any relation with the US or NATO. Also, it is this terrorism which wreaked 9/11. 9/11 did not beget it. Finally, is it US presence in Somalia and Yemen that justifies this terrorism’s playing havoc there?

We must face what this terrorism really means, if we are to do justice to it and to ourselves also. Only then, will humanity be able to fight the new slavery of mind and soul for which this terrorism is prepared to bomb the whole world to ashes!

[This article was completed on January 6, 2010.]

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The term, “Riyasati Ashrafiya” (State Aristocracy) gaining currency in Pakistan

The term of Riyasati Ashrafiya is slowly gaining currency in Pakistan. It’s not merely a term; it connotes a phenomenon, a malady, a dilemma the state of Pakistan is afflicted with. That the institution of state in Pakistan has been captured by various elite classes of Pakistan, and they use it to plunder the wealth the citizens of Pakistan create. That has given rise to a new class, Riyasati Ashrafiya.

That was the theme of my Urdu book, Pakistan Mein Riyasati Ashrafiya Ka Urooj, which was published in February 2012.

On July 26, 2013, the Business Recorder published a lengthy op-ed, An elitist Pakistanauthored by Huzaima Bukhari and Dr. Ikramul Haq.  

To explain the phenomena of loot and plunder in Pakistan, the authors have accepted / used the term, Riyasati Ashrafiya. As its English equivalent for the Urdu Riyasati Ashrafiya, they coined the term, State Elites.

I wrote them: I have seriously thought about it, and then decided to use the English term, State Aristocracy, for Urdu term, Riyasati Ashrafiya. In the first instance, I would like to use and popularize the Urdu term, Riyasati Ashrafiya, in English also; however, on second thought, in English I would prefer Aristocracy, instead of State Elite. The term, State Elite or State Elites, does not communicate the full meaning and significance of the Urdu term, Riyasati Ashrafiya.

They replied: I am in full agreement with you that ‘State Aristocracy’ as English expression for Riyasati Ashrafiya is more appropriate than ‘State elites’.

See the earlier related posts:

Monday, July 22, 2013

Bangladesh Ka Balochistan

Please note: This post has been shifted to the Urdu Blog - Civil Pakistan. To see it, click the link below:

The Bane of Sovereignty

It is the rule of law alone which hinders the rulers from turning themselves into the worst gangsters.
[Ludwig von Mises, Austrian Economist, 1881-1973]

He was born in Pakistan, and was brought up for public life by the military elite of Pakistan. He was a businessman turned into a politician by them. He was corrupt, laundered his illegal money. He was a liar who concealed the facts, didn’t speak the whole truth. He was a weak person who could not tolerate the dark dungeons he was put into by his regime’s over-throwers. He compromised his staying in his own country for an exile. All these ‘allegations’ may or may not be true. But he was a twice-elected prime minister of Pakistan. Does it matter? No! What matters is: wasn’t he a citizen of Pakistan? He was and is still a bona fide citizen of Pakistan.

His case is typically a Pakistani one. First, it involves ethical standards. Second, it pertains to the domain of law. Third, it overarches the political boundaries.

Had he shown any regard for his benefactors with whom he is stated to be in a certain understanding, or had he had any moral substance not to defy the understanding he talks about, be it written or verbal, with any individual or authority as is stated, he would not have been in such an unfortunate position! Regardless of the facts and sure we don’t know would they ever be made public, what we know for sure is that there was a certain understanding between the three parties: the then rulers of Pakistan, the Saudi ruling family, and he and his family. All of his acts and behavior related with his homecoming weaken his position. No doubt, he should have abided by the deal that saved his and his family’s skin. Propriety demands that he should have stayed outside Pakistan till the completion of ten years’ terms as agreed on paper. He was morally bound to keep the word. But he didn’t, and damaged his moral stature.

It may be argued that it concerns his person only as it was up to him to behave or not to behave morally. But, as he is a public personality, a politician, a leader of a political party, he cannot be absolved in such a manner. It is for the people, before whom he is accountable, to judge and censure his person and personality. The government has nothing to do with his moral standing. Yeah, his adversaries are free to take political mileage out of his lapses.

However, if he told a lie before the court, or concealed the truth or told the half truth, it is for the court to take cognizance of this act of him. It needs to be mentioned here that since he himself knocked at the court’s door for justice, the court is authorized to take up his lying and its implications for its judgment that provided him relief. What is important here is to differentiate between those moral lapses which are not cognizable offence, and those which are. If he would have lied in public about his deal or about the details of this deal, or defied his understanding with the two other parties, and not approached the court, the case has simply been a moral one, and only earned a bad name to him. Sure, it was not cognizable and thereby not punishable either in that case.             

It means that law and morality are two different domains. No doubt, he lost in the domain of morals. But in the domain of law, his case is strong enough. The deal or understanding that the three parties reached was brought to the court also, and was dismissed outrightly. It must have been. Common sense has it that any deal, agreement or understanding is done between more than one parties. The one that is signed by one party only is merely a promise to one’s own self, or to other parties. It has only moral validity. It can never attain a legal status. It was probably on this ground that he came to the court, and the court maintained his petition.

Also, particularly in his case, the law of the land is supreme. When the said deal was settled, written and signed, the aggrieved party was under sentence. Even if it is maintained that the deal was done freely and willingly, under no duress, and it was to his and his family’s obvious benefit, probably no court of law would admit it as evidence. The fact of his being in the custody of those with whom he reached the deal is enough evidence to invalidate any written deal, agreement or understanding regardless of the signatures put on it either by one or two or all the parties. Suppose, any court of law would have been approached by all the parties for signing it before the court to endow it with a legal status, had the court allowed such a thing is out of question.

Another important point that is being made and raised by many convinces one of the supremacy of the law of the land. It is that no agreement contrary to the fundamental rights ensured in the Constitution of Pakistan can be contracted. These rights have an over-riding quality to them. More than that, the said deal contracted both an unconstitutional and an unlawful ‘demand’ on the part of the aggrieved party: that they would live in exile for a specified period of time. So the deal that was from its very beginning illegal holds no water at this moment also.

When taken on its face value, the deal states that it be kept confidential. But after the filing of a petition by the aggrieved party in the Supreme Court, the government made the deal public by submitting its copies before the court. It was the first breach of what was government of Pakistan also morally bound to abide by. But morals of the government are never a subject of discussion. Only the morals of its functionaries matter, and they are always utterly immoral, and more so in the absence of rule of law. We judge government only in terms of the provisions of the Constitution and law of the country.

Thus the whole case hinges on the point of law. That amounts to saying that since it pertains to the domain of law, it must be viewed in that light first and foremost. That the highest court of the country has already judged that it is an inalienable right of every citizen of Pakistan to come and remain in Pakistan, and likewise it was his constitutional right to come, remain and live in Pakistan. He was not refused visa by the visa consulate of Pakistan, and was thus not having recourse to a court to enter Pakistan. If he were not a citizen of Pakistan, the court must never have entertained such a petition.  

The judgment of the court was a lawful boost to his plans whatsoever they were. It was no business of the court to see why he wanted to come to Pakistan. But the civilian-cum-military government was wary of his political plans whatsoever they were. Our concern is that whether the government honored the judgment of the apex court or not. Even the court would not be divulging in digging up the reasons; rather they would only be determining whether the judgment was honored and implemented or not.

Now, as the circumstances suggest, even if he, while in Saudi Arabia, submits or is forced to submit an affidavit in the court to the effect that he did go to Saudi Arabia willingly and is submitting this affidavit under no duress, will it be admissible to the court is a matter of no debate. The facts of the matter are so known by way of eye-witnesses, video-films, TV footages, etc, that it is already established unequivocally that his was an unwilling throwing out of Pakistan. So his kidnapping/deporting to Saudi Arabia is a flagrant violation of the highest court’s judgment. As the judgment derives its validity from an article of the Constitution, the Article 15, his kidnapping/deporting is in fact a defiance and insubordination of the Constitution.

Also, as his case overarches the political boundaries, and as it involves the ruling kings and princes of another country who seem to play an active role in his kidnapping/deporting, it further complicates the issues. First, whether that deal, the nature of which was discussed above in detail, allows another country’s government to indulge in such an act! Second, whether that deal permits our government to behave like this! This raises another question of paramount importance: which law other than the Constitution of Pakistan is supreme in and for Pakistan?

Before coming to these questions, the issue of sovereignty may be dealt with briefly. It’s being pointed out that the uncalled for role of Saudi government has dented Pakistan’s sovereignty. That it was a blatant interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan and that too at the behest of Pakistani government. For one, if it is at the behest of Pakistani government, it’s no interference, then. But, is that so simple? In case of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where there is no constitution or higher law and where the will of the rulers is the law of the land, it may have been so simple and a non-issue. Not for us in Pakistan. We have a constitution here. No matter how imperfectly it is implemented, it is there, and dictators too ultimately come to it to take refuge and salvage their ships.

What is sovereignty? Generally, it is exercise of authority by a government of an independent state free from external control. Without going into the details of this handy definition, it may be asserted that both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are independent states. As far as the exercising of their authority is concerned, it is determined by the law of the land. Or by tradition as is the case with Saudi Arabia where authority is exercised by the royal family. Their authority is absolute in that no law defines or limits it. But in case of Pakistan, the rulers in government derive their authority from the Constitution. It defines and limits their powers. The rulers in Pakistan, whatever is their brand, have no absolute authority.

Hence, for Pakistan the issue of sovereignty is the issue of the supremacy of the Constitution. If the government abrogates the Constitution, the sovereignty will be lost to the whims of the rulers. Thus, the Constitution of Pakistan provides us with a point of reference to see whether in his case of kidnapping/deporting to Saudi Arabia the sovereignty of Pakistan was staked or not.

No sane person would allow himself to disbelieve that a certain citizen of Pakistan was allowed to be kidnapped/deported to another country. Of course, to achieve its ulterior motives Pakistani government acted very enthusiastically. Leave aside the intricacies of sovereignty’s definition; it is evident that the sovereignty of Pakistan was challenged by the country’s own government when it defied the orders of the highest court and violated the Constitution of the country. Not only that, it invited another government to do the same.

Once again, whatever is the status of that deal of his - was it supreme to the Constitution of Pakistan? Firstly, is that deal so overriding that in order to fulfill the demands of that deal the officials of another country are free to take back a citizen of Pakistan to their country about whom the Supreme Court of Pakistan had already made a seven-member judgment to let him come and remain in Pakistan? Is that deal based on such an international law that abrogates the higher laws of independent states and allows taking back of citizens of a country by any country even in the absence of mutual extradition treaties?

Secondly, does that deal give any legal, constitutional leverage to the government of Pakistan to let another country to take back its citizens without having their consents or without fulfilling the legal requirements while no mutual extradition treaty is in force? No, simply not. In Pakistan the supreme law is its Constitution. Legally speaking, no deal, agreement, or contract can be made which is directly or indirectly violative of the provisions of the Constitution and fundamental rights ensured in it. Its violation means the violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty. But how unfortunate that the deal that Nawaz Sharif and brother reached has been made so sacred that to save it the government of Pakistan has staked everything, be it the Supreme Court’s judgment, Constitution of the country, or the sovereignty of Pakistan! Isn’t Pakistan heading to be another Kingdom of Saudi Arabia?  

[This article was completed on September 13, 2007.]

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Turki Aur Hukoomati Jabr Ka Afreet

Please note: This post has been shifted to the Urdu Blog - Civil Pakistan. To see it, click the link below:

Drone attacks is no issue, sir!

Mostly it’s like a rule that the issue a government and its functionaries spend a lot of time on is no issue at all. Drone attacks over the Pakistani territory and the zeal of the government of Pakistan from its top political and military leadership to the parliament should be treated likewise. Indeed, everyone whether he is in the government or outside it, whether he is an ordinary citizen like me or a special dignitary like Mr. President and Mr. Prime Minister who are sitting over the public exchequer of Pakistan, all (and sundry) are stormily concerned about the sovereignty of Pakistan being damaged by these Drone attacks. But let me confess I am one of those few (if any) who are least concerned and who consider it no issue. That is what this article intends to argue about.

Our government is a declared ally of the US government in the war against terrorists including those who planned 9/11, abetted, aided and executed it, who still support their terrorism, and who intend to go for such acts in future also, who are based on the Afghani and Pakistani soil, and are using it to launch more 9/11s. So in that case, it’s of no significance whose Drones they are and whose territory they are targeting. It’s the common war and certainly the targets too are common. Then why that fuss? Especially by Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister, and a specific brand of Pakistanis in whose eyes a country is just a piece of land and whose sovereignty consists only in its territoriality.

Recently when I asked a friend of mine who is lawyer, so, can you tell me, legally constitutionally, does Pakistan exist; I repeat: does Pakistan exist legally constitutionally, he was just numb. He had no answer.

History tells us there have been conquerors/adventurers eager of establishing their principalities over this much or that much territory. Or imagine the days of the fall and decline of Mughal empire. There were war lords, who occupied a piece of territory and ruled there, or they maintained bands of fighters and to sustain them they used to ambush the territory of another weaker war lord, or they used to sell their loyalties to whomever bade the highest price. It was that way of the powerful where sovereignty was the greatest thing to be protected at any cost. Simply because it was a symbol of one’s rule and power and of course in the last resort it yielded booty/revenue.

That’s the story of territorial sovereignty we the ordinary people are still nostalgic about. (How can we forget how our army defended our territorial sovereignty in 1970 in the Eastern wing and what was its outcome!) What it means for the extra-ordinary people like Mr. President and Mr. Prime Minister not clear but that they are beating about the bush by harping uselessly on the theme of sovereignty is obvious. That’s all misleading!

The world we live today is a world of legality and constitutionality. When a new country emerges on the map of the world, regardless of the manner in which it comes into being, e.g. how Bangladesh was founded, its first urge is to attain legally constitutionally justified status and then to be admitted into the comity of nations as a legally constitutionally existing country. A negative example explains it well: in case Taliban after assuming full control of some of the areas on the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan declare the setting up of a state until and unless it has no legal constitutional status there is no chance of its being given the same status by the international community and admitted into the UNO as well, its existence will remain mired in uncertainty.

With these points in focus, we should know that today territorial sovereignty is somewhere at the bottom of the list. On top of the list is the legal constitutional status of a country that endows it with its real sovereignty.

This legal constitutional sovereignty is in fact an internal phenomenon. It gives a tract of land and a population of individual persons inhabiting that tract a name and identity, and the form of a country. However, most of all, it ensures those individual persons protection of their life, their property and their rights/freedoms as the citizens of that country. Otherwise that legal constitutional sovereignty is just meaningless, and is but the rule of thugs. Ah, who can refute that even thugs provide their subjects protection of life and property!

To quote St. Augustine here is more than relevant who says: ‘Set aside justice, then, and what are kingdoms but great bands of brigands? For what are brigands' bands but little kingdoms? For in brigandage the hands of the underlings are directed by the commander, the confederacy of them is sworn together, and the pillage is shared by law among them. And if those ragamuffins grow up to be able enough to keep forts, build habitations, possess cities, and conquer adjoining nations, then their government is no longer called brigandage, but graced with the eminent name of a kingdom, given and gotten not because they have left their practices but because they use them without danger of law.’ (City of God, Book IV)

That’s what ultimately sovereignty amounts to: provision of justice which implies protection of life and property and importantly the fundamental rights/freedoms to individual persons. In this context, injustice is the absence of these protections. Probably that is why in their specific dominions goons too protect life and property (if not fundamental rights) of those people who live under them from other invading goons. That is the essence of a sovereign country and the sovereignty of a country. That is why legality constitutionality matters so much in today’s world. It ensures individual persons their fundamental rights and inalienable freedoms, in addition to protection to their life and property.     

Internally that sovereignty is a collection of sovereign individuals whose life, property and rights/freedoms are ensured by legality and constitutionality of a country. Externally the sovereignty of that country embodies in its territorial boundaries and the nature of that sovereignty merely consists not only in safeguarding the physical borders but that is all meant to protect life, property and thus rights/freedoms of those individual persons also who live inside those physical borders from the invaders. That sums up our argument: sovereignty derives from sovereign individuals and reverts to them.

Where do we stand vis-à-vis that sovereignty? It was quite after 60 years that we came to have a rule of law movement which probably first time in the history of Pakistan brought the issue of fundamental rights to the fore. Astonishingly prior to that there existed no such issue in the political discourse in Pakistan; and surely there was no rule of law and independent judiciary either.  Ironically as that movement popularized, more fundamental than fundamental rights, the issue of protection of life and property started burning up the country. So fight for your life first, then for your property, and go forget your fundamental rights you wretched of this earth! That’s the message of the Pakistani state to its individual citizens! Loud and clear!

Under these circumstances, listening to the headship of our state talking of sovereignty is just nauseating. Already they were sickening in their parasitic appetite; their treacherous acts have made their existence loathsome. They are the rot of this land ruling and spoiling this land. From people to institutions, they have defied everything that elevated them to their position. The constitution that gave them a legal and constitutional status and distinguished them from St. Augustine’s brigands’ bands, they have trashed that constitution into a dustbin of their perverted interests.

By setting aside both the legal constitutional chief justice and justice, they have turned Pakistan ‘into a kingdom of brigands' bands. For what are brigands' bands but little kingdoms? For in brigandage the hands of the underlings are directed by the commander, the confederacy of them is sworn together, and the pillage is shared by law among them.’

That’s Pakistan and that’s its sovereignty. From FATA and Swat to Karachi we the ordinary citizens are at the mercy of this or that band of brigands. We are sovereign individuals though our sovereignty has already been slaughtered verily by those who were its custodians. What if a sovereign individual is killed by a brigand or by a bomb dropped by a Drone! What if a sovereign individual is coerced by a local or a foreign goon or the state itself into subservience to this or that ideology! He is already in limbo forsaken by the Pakistani state!

[This article was completed on January 30, 2009.]

Saturday, July 13, 2013