Monday, August 19, 2013

What about internal sovereignty?

The so-called nationalists maintain Drone attacks are damaging the sovereignty of Pakistan!

These nationalists include Rightists of various hues such as Jamat-e-Islami to Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Islam (F), and other somewhat liberal elements as well. They know that Pakistan is a declared ally of the US in the war against terror, and in that case, it’s of no significance whose Drones they are and whose territory they are targeting. Also, Bob Woodward’s Obama’s wars and Wikileaks establish Pakistan’s tacit approval of the Drone attacks.

Sure, the nationalists’ anti-American stance and dubbing the present government as US-backed validate their argument. Indeed, by way of inference also, most of these nationalists lean toward the Taliban who are openly attacking the sovereignty of Pakistan. But it seems they have no idea of internal sovereignty, but are concerned only about guarding the external sovereignty of Pakistan which is in no danger by the Drone attacks.

Is a country merely a piece of land whose sovereignty consists only in its territoriality? It could have been so in the olden times when principalities existed. Presently, sovereignty is a function of legality and constitutionality. When a new country emerges, its first urge is to attain legal constitutional status.

In today’s world, territorial sovereignty is just one part of the legal constitutional status of a country that endows it with its real sovereignty. This sovereignty is an internal phenomenon which gives a tract of land and a population of individual persons inhabiting that tract an identity and the status of a country. Internally this sovereignty is a collection of sovereign individuals whose life, property and rights/freedoms are ensured by the legal and constitutional arrangement of that country. Externally this sovereignty embodies in its territorial boundaries defined by the same legal and constitutional arrangement.

Thus, sovereignty requires safeguarding of the physical borders from the external invaders not as an end in-it-self but as a means to protecting life, property and rights/freedoms of the sovereign individuals who live inside those physical borders. Likewise, sovereignty does require protection of life, property and rights/freedoms of the individual persons from the internal invaders also. They may be Taliban, or other individuals, groups, forces, parties, or institutions. That sums up our argument: sovereignty derives from sovereign individuals who bind themselves into a legal and constitutional arrangement, and reverts to them.

Further to this, any such legal and constitutional arrangement creates various institutions to take care of the functions of the sovereignty of a country. In our case, the parliament, provincial assemblies, the courts, the election commission, auditor general, the armed forces, etc., are brought to life but to serve the same purpose. These institutions derive their existence and mandate from the legal and constitutional arrangement the soul objective of which is to help create such an environment where individual citizens are free to live as they wish and where their life, property and rights/freedoms are safe from encroachers like Taliban.

As against this, the nationalist clatter of sovereignty is just hollow. They do not see the writ of government being challenged and damage being done to the sovereignty of the country by these internal invaders and their mentors inside and outside the government. Is not challenging the writ of the government a serious crime? Is not taking up arms against the state a capital crime? Aren’t the Taliban waging an open and declared war against the state of Pakistan? In other words, against the sovereign individuals of Pakistan! Aren’t they inflicting unbearable losses to the life, property and rights/freedoms of the citizens of Pakistan? Isn’t sovereignty of Pakistan at stake at the hands of these insider invaders?

This hollow nationalism directly amounts to supporting the Taliban, a declared enemy of the legal and constitutional sovereignty of its sovereign individuals. These nationalists never raise any voice in favor of the sovereignty of Pakistan’s individual citizens. They never show any concern about the internal sovereignty of this country. Because not only is their campaign part of their misleading politics but they are the potential invaders of the sovereign individuals as well as the legal and constitutional sovereignty of this country.

Ironically, their focus is on the collateral damage of life and property done by Drone attacks, but they are blind to the same damage of far greater magnitude done by the Taliban. By their logic, if some criminals take a family inside their home hostage, and if police come to this family’s rescue, and as a result of police’s action one or two innocent persons lose their life, then it is police which is to be blamed, not the criminals. Common sense defies this nationalism!

Let these nationalists exalt the criminals. It is their right. But it is for the sovereign individuals to realize what their nationalism means and what it has in store for their sovereignty and Pakistan’s as well!

[This article was completed on December 5, 2010.]

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