Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Note of Thanks from the www.NotesFromPakistan.com

First, note please that the Blog has a domain of its own now: www.NotesFromPakistan.com 

The blog - Notes From Pakistan – started last year (2012) in August. It has yet to see a whole year completed. However, I feel fortunate enough that without any publicity and promotional campaigns, it has been received well. Thousands of seekers, from abroad as well as from Pakistan, visited and read various posts.

I hope they found what they sought for and what brought them here!

Many thanks to all the readers who came to the Notes From Pakistan!

Hope they will keep coming and I promise to be true to the mission and values of the Blog!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Sunday, April 28, 2013

From the electoral to a real victory

[It was the same day last year when the Chief Justice of Pakistan laid the foundation stone of this movement for the liberation of ordinary people of Pakistan from the yoke of elite classes. I dedicate this article to all those extraordinarily valiant lawyers who are continuing the movement unrelentingly. KA]

Now after the 9th general elections, there is much lure and a sort of euphoria among the intelligentsia even beyond Pakistan to dub the results as unprecedented, historic, revolutionary, and what not. In addition, a revived belief in populism is gaining strength. This needs to be clearly analyzed and understood because we as members of civil society ought to be aware of correctly recognizing and meeting our responsibility. That’s my part of euphoria.

It is being argued that the mandate that PPP, PML (N), and ANP have got would have been weightier had the elections been free and fair. Sure, it could have been so, but the fact is that minus the pre- and post-poll rigging, and the poll-day rigging, in 2002 it was these same people who voted the PML (Q) into the government. It was the same people who voted for ‘Roti, Kapra aur Mkaan’ (Food, Clothing and Shelter), in 1970, and came through various elections (including the trickiest local government elections) voting for this or that thing or for nothing serious.   

This must clear the fog of populism. As we know, and as many surveys and studies suggest, people vote this or that candidate or party, and then they change their loyalties, for very different reasons. To lump them together and say it is this or that type of vote is a mistake. It is deliberate drifting into a populist rhetoric and amounts to self-delusion. For myself, this time I voted the party that commits itself to the restoration of deposed judges, while when the elections were announced I had decided not to vote at all; but then not to let anyone misuse my vote I thought of casting it but to none. Prior to this, I had been voting for the party which was considered business-friendly.             

No surprise, there is almost a consensus that this time it was an anti-Musharraf vote which is alternately being termed on the one hand as anti-military-interference, anti-dictatorship, anti-PML (Q), anti-violence, anti-terrorism; and on the other hand, as pro-Chief Justice of Pakistan vote. At best, among other things, it shows our utter discontentedness with the regime and its policies. To my part of dubbing it and I am not alone in that, this time it is an anti-system vote.

But let me make my position clear and stated: we do not know whether all the people who voted, voted for a change in the system. Or for that matter how many people who voted want some change in the system. Or we do not know whether the number of people who voted for a change in the system is greater than those who voted for other reasons. Or, if somehow we have answers to the above questions, even then the most pertinent question we need to face concerns with the nature and quality of change people want.

Ah, but these are the delicacies of a democratic system the complexities of which are multiplied by the factors specific to the Pakistani situation, such as personality-worship, party loyalty, provincial, tribal, ethnic and other affinities, and a host of other internal and external interventions. Another most disturbingly negative characteristic of a democratic set-up is the period for which a party or parties are mandated. No matter it is five, four or three years; what matters is that once a party is mandated, it is free to do whatever it wishes to do despite its manifesto/agenda that helped it win votes, even it plays havoc with the Constitution. But that’s another story what their manifestos are worth. Presently there is no way to rein in a mandated ruling party. Only that it is to be judged by the people when after five years it will be again in the field to ask for another vote provided its life is not cut short by the Pak Army’s arbitrary actions.               

Thus, what we need to focus on is that the results of February 18 elections under particular circumstances especially followed by last year’s March 9 NO of Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Honorable Chief Justice of Pakistan, have provided us with a rare opportunity to change the system in Pakistan. Regardless of the debate on the nature of the present mandate, we in any case must not let go this moment not taken advantage of. In other words, we in a proactive manner must turn this opportunity into long term benefit of the people of Pakistan. That’s my argument.  

This long term benefit is none other than the establishment of the rule of law in Pakistan. No doubt, within a year it has acquired an uncontroversial status to an extent that those to whom it is absolutely fatal have come to pay lip service to it. Whether it is civil and military establishment or their cronies, political and religious parties or their beneficiaries, or their other allies such as feudal lords, industrialists, traders; in sum, the elites of Pakistan which have subjugated the state, judiciary, parliament, and the Constitution of the country to their maximum profit, will never tolerate the establishment of the rule of law in Pakistan. In other words, will they never let the people enjoy security of person; protection to their property; freedom of trade, business and profession; freedom of movement, speech, assembly, association; freedom to profess and practice their faith; and above all equality before law, all ensured in the Constitution.

However, the fate has it that the same elites have been burdened with this great responsibility. In that sense, the present vote has a tragic side also. We know how PPP has been and is dodging the issue of restoration of the deposed judges; how cautious is ANP; how PML (N) is doing future politics by taking up the issue of the judiciary’s restoration; how precarious is the APDM grouping, and as regards its member JI, how sincere it is with the cause, and how lacking in political acumen is TI. We can never take them on their face value; they are difficultly unreliable.

But what we can do is we must take the elections results as a strategic advancement towards our goal and keep exerting our civil society’s pressure on them to restore the deposed judiciary. This will be the first step towards the dismantling of the rule of dictators and fake leaders. We know the next steps such as supremacy of the Constitution, not of the parliament, and rule of law will follow of their own. It is these steps that will prove to be the greatest checks not only against the overarching parliament and executive but political parties’ irresponsible governments also.

Now if these political parties restore the judiciary, well and good; but if they don’t, we the members of civil society, lawyers, media persons, NGOs, teachers, students and disgruntled political parties’ workers must keep on with the movement for the restoration of deposed judiciary. Though the path from the electoral to a real victory is strewn with every type of seen and unseen hazard and ever newer forms of dangerous pro-establishment species, but this struggle must continue. We must realize that after the sufferings of a whole 60 years, we have this opportunity to break the unholy alliance of elite classes which kept the people of Pakistan deprived of their fundamental inalienable rights and freedoms by making the state and its institutions subservient to their interests.

However, this electoral triumph will transform into a real victory for the ordinary people of Pakistan only when the fundamental rights given in the Constitution of 1973 are made inviolable. This will fatally weaken the elitist state in Pakistan, and help emerge a state ruled by laws respecting every individual citizen and his rights. We must keep on.

[This article was completed on March 4, 2008.]

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All rights reserved. No part of the contents published on this Blog – Notes from Pakistan may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of The Blogger.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013

Is another “Lal Masjid Episode” taking shape?

It appears that Lal Masjid Brigade is again testing the waters. Few days back, various TV channels reported that Burqa-Clad females of Jamia Hafsa armed with knives and clubs removed and tore the posters and banners of General Pervez Musharraf (Retired) in G-6 Sector of Islamabad.

This picture was published by The Express Tribune on April 18, 2013:


The event has not been taken notice of. The same series of events happened earlier and ignored when finally Lal Masjid Operation became a necessity.

Is the same crisis brewing again, who knows!

See a previous post on Lal Masjid: Echoing Lal Masjid

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All rights reserved. No part of the contents published on this Blog – Notes from Pakistan may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of The Blogger.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

1935 Ka Act Aur NaaEhaliyat Ki Dafaat

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

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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All rights reserved. No part of the contents published on this Blog – Notes from Pakistan may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of The Blogger.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Siyasatdaan Aur Dil Ki Baat

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

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The State of Property Rights Protection in Pakistan

Ultimately property rights and personal rights are the same thing. 
(Calvin Coolidge, 1872-1933)

It was in January 2007 that a letter appeared in some newspapers. Its writer was a former cricketer. He was part of the national cricket team which toured India in 1952-1953. He also received an award from the president for his services to the game of cricket. He had a heart-rending story to relate: An engineer by profession, he spent a good part of his life in Middle East. On coming back to Pakistan, besides his family dwelling, he built a house in DHA, Lahore, with an intention to give it on rent to meet their daily living expenses out of the rental income.

But as it happens, the tenant did not pay the rent for many years and he had to knock at the doors of the courts to seek justice. After five years’ tiring litigation, the court gave a verdict in his favor and appointed a bailiff to get the house vacated with the support of the local police. When they reached the house, the tenant’s brother used abusive language and threatened to shoot them. The police party mysteriously escaped from the scene. The bailiff was also forced to run away by the tenant’s armed companions. Later it came out that one call from a senior police officer who happened to be the relative of the tenant to the concerned SHO was the actual cause of the police’s whisking away.

After detailing his ordeal, the former cricketer wrote thus: ‘The bailiff has already given the factual report of the above happening. Will the court take strong action to get their orders implemented? And will some senior police officer take time to find out why their department failed to get the law implemented. If not, then where should we go to plead our case? Can someone guide us how we should get the justice?’

We do not know whether this particular case came to a conclusion or not. But we do know that such stories are not uncommon in Pakistan. We quoted this case because what distinguishes it from other so many cases is this person of a status and probable connections, and if he is unable to win police on his side to implement the court orders, imagine the plight of millions of ordinary sufferers.

Every neighborhood in Pakistan is familiar with such illegal possessions and the injustice meted out to the legal owners of land plots, houses, shops and buildings, and the hanky-panky going on in the offices that deal with legal titling. And we do know how legal owners and renters of various properties waste their time and money in the corridors of courts to seek justice. And if they are fortunate enough to have the court orders in their favor, they find themselves thrown out of the frying pan into the fire. Now they are at the mercy of police the brutal force that is notorious to usurp their right to dignity, and thus how one could expect of it to implement the court’s orders.

Also, we do know how a good many number of people who go abroad leave their properties un-rented because they fear dispossession by the prospective tenants, and thus save themselves from the courts and police ordeal. They are well aware that they incur multiple losses such as depreciation their property undergo, rent money they could earn, property tax and utility bills they have to pay in any case, maintenance and guarding expenses their property need; but they lose all this only to one gain: that their property remains in their legal as well as physical possession.  

Intellectual property rights are another case in point. The same situation prevails here. Generally speaking, we are quite oblivious of intellectual property rights’ existence and justification which is another evidence of our intellectual backwardness: no intellectual property, no intellectual property rights. Under such circumstances, talking of such rights seems ridiculously irrelevant. Leave the individual cases aside, what about big private and public organizations and big businesses which are using pirated software.                
   
No doubt, we have abundant anecdotal evidence how property rights whether intellectual or physical are disregarded and flouted in Pakistan. But this evidence needs to be substantiated by some scientific evidence.

Luckily now we have such an index which by using ‘an innovative gauge . . . ranks countries according to their strengths and efforts to protect both physical and intellectual property.’ Though, there are many indices and reports such as Index of Economic Freedom, Economic Freedom of the World Annual Report, which use property rights as an indicator, but this International Property Rights Index (IPRI) focuses solely on property rights. In fact, it is ‘the only available annual international index dedicated exclusively to property right issues – and the only to integrate both the intellectual and physical aspects of property.’ Thus it is more reliable than others.

Under Hernando de Soto Fellowship, the IPRI was started in 2007 as a Project of the Property Rights Alliance, and its first report was issued in the same year. In 2007, 38 and in 2008, 40 civil society organizations from six continents partnered to release the Index and highlight the state of property rights protection in their respective countries. In Pakistan, the IPRI report is released by Alternate Solutions Institute, a think tank based in Lahore.

The IPRI argues that without secure property rights, no country can achieve economic development. “Clearly delineated property rights help lead to an efficient ordering of economic activity through several channels: creating security beyond the short-term which incentivizes investment over long-term horizons (dynamic efficiency); as a coordination device; creating an element of clarity in ownership which facilitates trade; as a first condition to an efficient allocation of resources; as a precondition for first-stage investment by outsiders.” It is the same argument Hernando de Soto put forward in his seminal book, The Mystery of Capital. He raised the question: Why capitalism triumphs in the West and fails everywhere else? De Soto’s answer reveals that it is secure property rights that enable poor people to transform their assets into capital an inevitable tool of economic development. He says: ‘This year’s (2008) IPRI provides further proof of the relationship between the robustness of a country’s property rights system and its economic development, revealing that much still needs to be done to extend property rights to more people, especially the poor.’       

The IPRI is comprised of three core categories which are ‘essential to the strength and protection of a country’s private property system.’ The grading scale ranges from 0 to 10, with 10 representing the strongest level of property rights protection and 0 the non-existence of secure property rights in a country. Here is the structure of the IPRI:

1) Legal and Political Environment (LP)

• Judicial Independence
• Confidence in Courts
• Political Stability
            • Control of Corruption

2) Physical Property Rights (PPR)

• Protection of Physical Property Rights
• Registering Property
• Access to Loans

3) Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

• Protection of Intellectual Property Rights
• Patent Protection
• Copyright Piracy
• Trademark Protection   

Now the overall score and ranking of Pakistan in 2007 and 2008 reports is detailed below:

Category
Score/Rank 2007
(Out of 70 countries)
Score/Rank 2008
(Out of 115 countries)
IPRI
3.3/59
3.9/93
Legal and Political Environment (LP)
1.9
3.0/106
Physical Property Rights (PPR)
5.1
5.8/56
Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)
2.8
2.8/103
  
In LP though our score improved from 1.9 (2007) to 3.0 (2008), but on the whole it is quite hopeless. As the Legal and Political Environment is formed by four variables, Judicial Independence, Confidence in Courts, Political Stability and Control of Corruption; we know how low is the quality of this Environment.

In PPR, our score was better (5.1) in 2007, and it further rose to 5.8 in 2008 report. But the reason for this much better score in this category is obvious enough: the two variables, Registering Property and Access to Loans neutralize the much negative impact of Protection of Physical Property Rights variable. We discussed above the never-ending property rights litigation and the role of those agencies which are entrusted with the implementation of court orders.  

In the last category, IPR, we taste bad. It seems all the government efforts including the setting-up of Intellectual Property Rights Organization (IPRO) bear no fruit; the low score (2.8) in this category remains static. Here we are a worse performer than our erstwhile part, Bangladesh.

Likewise, if we analyze our performance in comparative terms, the already deplorable state of property rights protection in our country looks precarious. We are ranked with Nepal and Ecuador which is surprising given the fact these are far backward countries. In comparison with our neighboring country and our age-fellow, India, which is ranked at 36, we stand nowhere. More than that, we fall in the bottom quintile that includes countries like Bangladesh and Ethiopia.

This brings us down to our ground realities. In the early years of General Musharraf, it was reported in the press that on his invitation, Hernando de Soto visited Pakistan and met him. We can safely assume that de Soto’s advice to the General would not have been different from the argument that is now being made in IPRI reports. As the General’s dictatorial rule evaporates, it is high time for the new civil-political government to pay heed to the IPRI advice: poor need property laws and property protection to create wealth!

[This article was completed on March 23, 2008.]

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All rights reserved. No part of the contents published on this Blog – Notes from Pakistan may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of The Blogger.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Falsafa-e-Tareekh, Nau-Abadiyaat Aur Jamhooriyat: Aik Kitaab Ki Taqreeb-e-Runamaai Ka Bayaan

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

State Aristocracy’s Loot of Pakistan – 26

I started collecting and sharing this information just because of my focus on how the state aristocracy makes use of its capture of the state to further its interests and loot; however, there is so much to it appearing daily in the newspapers that to me it requires another blog fully devoted to the state aristocracy’s appropriation of the citizens’ tax money and misuse of the public authority.

Hence, I think I should give only the links to such news items and of course from such newspapers which I happen to see.

راجہ پرویز اشرف نے جعلی اشتہاری مہم کے لیے 961 ملین ادائیگی کی منظوری دی: ٹرانسپیرینسی کا چیف جسٹس کو خط


[Roznama Express, March 31, 2013]
-----

عدالتی احکامات نظر انداز، 175 سابق ارکان اسیمبلی نے ڈگریوں کی تصدیق نہیں کروائی، جعلی ڈگری والے 54 نام ایلیکشن کمیشن کی ویب سائیٹ پر جاری


[Roznama Express, April 1, 2013]
-----

نااہلی کا خوف، سابق ارکان نے پارلیمینٹ لاجز کے واجبات ادا کر دیے


[Roznama Express, April 1, 2013]
-----

راجہ پرویز اور نوید قمر سرکاری سامان واپس کریں، وزارت پانی و بجلی


[Roznama Express, April 1, 2013]
-----

Get degrees verified by 5th or face ban


[The News, April 2, 2013]
-----

How any citizen can object to a candidate


[The News, April 2, 2013]
-----

ECP continues to play games to protect the elite


[The News, April 2, 2013]
-----

Expert compares asset declarations of top leaders


[The News, April 2, 2013]
-----

Non-bailable arrest warrants against Amin Fahim, six others issued


[The News, April 2, 2013]
-----

Dasti, Warran indicted in fake degree cases


[The News, April 2, 2013]
-----

CJ takes notice of malpractice in two mega projects


[The News, April 2, 2013]
-----

Punjab University caught helping fake degree holder


[The News, April 2, 2013]
-----

IHC declares appointment of Ashraf’s son-in-law illegal


[The News, April 2, 2013]
-----

Punjab CM fires re-employed bureaucrats


[The News, April 2, 2013]
-----

Amnesty for textile defaulters extended


[The News, April 2, 2013]
-----

Slam the brakes on vehicle amnesty scheme, states TIP


[The Express Tribune, April 2, 2013]
-----

NICL scandal: Warrants issued for Amin Faheem, five others


[The Express Tribune, April 2, 2013]
-----

More trouble awaits Gilani, Raja Pervaiz


[The Express Tribune, April 2, 2013]
-----

Tax fraud: 13 men remanded in judicial custody


[The Express Tribune, April 2, 2013]
-----

Three ex-MPs jailed, one escapes from court


[The News, April 3, 2013]
-----

Gilani flew almost to the moon as PM


[The News, April 3, 2013]
-----

Half of 8,000 candidates paid no tax, have no NTN


[The News, April 3, 2013]
-----

Punjab govt ‘withdraws’ orders to remove re-hired bureaucrats


[The News, April 3, 2013]
-----

Tax Ombudsman seeks details of Sethi’s NY property


[The News, April 3, 2013]
-----

SC halts payment of govt ads till 8th


[The News, April 3, 2013]
-----

Tax Ombudsman pounces on smuggled vehicles, limos


[The News, April 3, 2013]
-----

Where has Musharraf hidden his billions?


[The News, April 3, 2013]
-----

FBR orders probe into clearance of 20,000 vehicles in Quetta


[The News, April 3, 2013]
-----

Punjab University rejects report


[The News, April 3, 2013]
-----

KESC sends list of defaulters to NAB


[The News, April 3, 2013]
-----

OGRA scam: Tauqir Sadiq’s houses confiscated


[The Express Tribune, April 3, 2013]
-----

Collusive activities: CCP nails Fauji Fertilizer, Engro Fertilizers with Rs8.6b fine


[The Express Tribune, April 3, 2013]
-----

APTMA pays Rs4 billion in taxes to ‘save image’


[The Express Tribune, April 3, 2013]
-----

Ship-breakers urge FBR to withdraw ‘controversial’ SROs


[The Express Tribune, April 3, 2013]
-----

Businessmen press for PM’s intervention


[The Express Tribune, April 3, 2013]
-----

Sharifs continue to rule the roost in Punjab


[The News, April 4, 2013]
-----

ROs confused about tax details of candidates


[The News, April 4, 2013]
-----

How are courts granting bail in absence of accused?


[The News, April 4, 2013]
-----

Two sample cases reveal glaring untruths


[The News, April 4, 2013]
-----

IHC questions honesty of ex-PM Ashraf Directs NAB to initiate corruption probe


[The News, April 4, 2013]
-----

Only 3pc of documents uploaded by ECP


[The News, April 4, 2013]
-----

Massive confusion raises doubts about 


[The News, April 4, 2013]
-----

PU declares degrees of 11 MPs bogus


[The News, April 4, 2013]
-----

Hina Khar also had her last wish on the last day


[The News, April 4, 2013]
-----

Ensuring transparency: TIP raises concerns over PIA procurement process


[The Express Tribune, April 4, 2013]
-----

Road project: Ashraf declared guilty of ‘naked corruption’


[The Express Tribune, April 4, 2013]
-----

ECP rules: ‘Do you have to be a taxpayer to contest polls’


[The Express Tribune, April 4, 2013]

Wait for the State Aristocracy's Loot of Pakistan - 27

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Intekhabaat Aur Shehri Tanzeemon Kay Karnay Ka Kaam

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

PML (N): enigma of principled politics

I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.
[Barry Goldwater, American Politician and Senator, 1909-1998]
  
It is said that every government is a perfect target for criticism. But interestingly this time in Pakistan though the Pakistan Peoples Party government is under heavy fire and of course it must be and even if outside government it should remain so; however, what should be the real target is Pakistan Muslim League (N). This article is an attempt at highlighting that point.

As for PPP’s politics both before and after February 18 elections and through the events that unfolded within the last 7 months, it is established beyond doubt that PPP is as usual on a collusion course with the elitist set-up, and is just continuing the policies of General (Retired) Musharraf and the security establishment of Pakistan. Take any issue and you will see that it is acting and behaving more and more like General (R) Musharraf. Rather it is set to achieve and is achieving what General (R) Musharraf so desperately wanted to achieve but could not.

So far, one of the most important achievements of the PPP government is its persistent denial of the rule of law movement, its refusal to restore the pre-November 3, 2007, judiciary including Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, and the notorious re-appointments of a number of deposed judges, and all that without having any immediate backlash in sight.

Another big achievement is its total adoption of US war on terror. Farcically, PPP Co-Chairman, and President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, while on his maiden visit to US, has crossed the limits in wooing the US administration. General (R) Musharraf liked to play the victim; whereas PPP leadership is playing the dog that walks ahead of his master. As regards the mechanics of internal terror warfare, PPP is making a mess of it via its policy of action and inaction or a mix of both. On the economic front, even after half a year nothing serous has come to the surface that could be termed positive. Instead the downslide continues.

Thus, alongside its politics of disorder, nepotism, favoritism, and corruption, the PPP government is presenting itself like a proxy government of General (R) Musharraf. And, sure, for all its deeds and misdeeds, it is rightly under an unprecedented barrage of criticism.

Meanwhile, it is incomprehensible why on the other side of the political game PML (N) is being showered with laurels, such as that it is doing principled politics; that it is consistent in its politics; that it has sacrificed the federal ministries for the sake of its electoral promise, i.e. restoration of the deposed judiciary; that it went to the last extent in partnering with the PPP to attain this objective; that it is not pursuing the retaliatory politics of 80s and 90s; that it will never be the part of anything that de-stabilizes the PPP government; that it is not set to doing any such thing which may amount to dismantling or toppling the PPP government; that it is giving the PPP government due space to act as it likes; that it respects PPP mandate and would like to see it sail through its 5 year tenure; that it will support PPP where it will deem it fit to do so; that it supported PPP in ousting General (R) Musharraf; that it will never go for any thing that may result in another throwing off of the civilian government, i.e. another military coup; that it is sticking to the Charter of Democracy.

That sounds great, and a bit real different in the context of Pakistan’s political dynamics. Is it so? It may not be, because there is another brush that paints another story which sees the present politics of PML (N) as under certain internal and external constraints. Though we do not know the secrets behind these constraints which only Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif and their close associates know, but we do analyze the way events unfold and progress, and try to find the thread that goes through them. For instance, why PML (N) nominated Justice (R) Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui for the September 6 presidential election if it was not going to give Zardari, PPP candidate, a tough time or if it was going to give him an easy win. Or it was just filler like PML (Q)’s that tried to canvass vigorously for its candidate. That reminds us the manner in which PPP helped General (R) Musharraf to win his second presidential elections in November 2007. Where PML (N) stand in this fare? What was that constrained it from doing the right thing?

On the issue of the restoration of the deposed judiciary, of course, PML (N)’s stand and its efforts are laudable. But is it all that it could do? Or it should have been doing? Or it should do? Sure, it was strategically great to bring PPP on the table and have it signed the agreements to restore superior courts judges thrown away by General (R) Musharraf and annul the 17th amendment. Was it sufficient to rely on the written word and that by a person like Zardari? The PML (N) may be excused for the Murree/Bhurban Declaration since it was the first thing or sting. But it cannot be spared for signing another agreement with Zardari which was again destined to be trashed by him.

One may object that it is easier saying now than doing it then. But the point of argument is different: was it sufficient to sign the agreements and wait they would be implemented? Why the PML (N) strategists stood on such a weak rock? Why couldn’t they understand the game of give and take? Actually, they committed blunders of great magnitude when they bartered just signed documents (Murree/Bhurban/Islamabad/London agreements) for hard cash, i.e. supporting the PPP in forming government in the center, for giving vote of confidence to the PPP Prime Minister. It may be or may not be that they had been a victim of temptation of federal ministries. But it took place exactly in the way it should not have been.

Also, for a political party like PML (N) it was just preposterous to take the signed agreements as serious documents that will make a difference and bring the desired change. Men like Raja Zafarul Haq, Javed Hashmi, and Khawaja Asif should be well aware of the treacherous nature of Pakistani politics and when they were dealing with Zardari they should have taken extra-care. We leave it, they made a mistake. But, did they make sure that they were doing their home work to build pressure via street agitation and other means to get these agreements implemented? I am just helpless to understand how naively PML (N) reposed its trust in these agreements! Or I should not trust it?

Further to this, take the example of the Long March. How PML (N) kept itself aloof from it is not a matter of debate. Or how could it make it a greater show and send a message to the PPP government that in case PPP does not restore the deposed judges to what extent it could go. Moreover, throughout this period after the last agreement expired, PML (N) shied away from the rule of law movement. It did not strengthen it the way it should have. Why? What are the constraints? What are the secrets behind? We have nothing to do with them.  

What I want to argue on is the single point on which whole PML (N) election campaign was based: that it will restore the judges who were thrown away by General (R) Musharraf on November 3, 2007, to save his mock presidency. And, I want to see how sincerely and forcefully it acted or is acting to achieve that objective. It needs to be pointed out here that it is not just a promise but it is the only road to go back to constitutional rule in Pakistan which can ensure supremacy of the constitution, independent judiciary, rule of law, and our fundamental rights to us people of Pakistan. That’s the importance of this promise! If PML (N) does not opt for doing what it can to get the deposed judges restored and the 17th amendment annulled, it will amount to a death by slow poisoning in contrast to PPP which has gone for a cold-blooded murder. 

Therefore, we can ask again, was it sufficient for the PML (N) to quit the ministries? Was it sufficient to leave the coalition government? Was it sufficient to sit on the opposition benches in the National Assembly? Was there nothing else that PML (N) could or can do to meet its lone promise? Or was it just at scoring numbers in the eyes of the people?

A cursory look at the previous months’ events enables us see how PML (N) has been acting as a sleeping partner of PPP government. All of its acts be it quitting the ministries, leaving the coalition government, or sitting on the opposition benches, are just passive acts. By playing a silent partner of PPP government, it is making itself liable to be accused of the same ‘crimes’ that PPP is committing. By allowing PPP government to do whatever it likes, it is actually endorsing whatever PPP government is doing and is up to doing. By strengthening the PPP government, it is actually giving credence to the unconstitutional acts of General (R) Musharraf.

All that politics of PML (N) implies that it passively supports the re-appointment of the deposed judges, PPP’s refusal to restore the constitutional judiciary, annulling of the 17th amendment, and other such acts like the NRO. In sum, PML (N) is accepting and validating all the acts of General (R) Musharraf’s unconstitutional rule. Also, it is tantamount to endorsing the PPP government’s policy of following the US line in the war on terror which is in stark contrast to the PML (N)’s policy. In the economic realm too, it means just stamping what the PPP managers are doing or undoing.

In conclusion, PML (N)’s policy of appeasement towards the PPP government, pre-meditated or adopted under the circumstances, is casting serious doubts on its claim of principled politics. It is baffling which principles PML (N) regards as supreme and worth-following if they are not based on and derived from the constitution of Pakistan. It is just enigmatic how its politics can be termed principled if it is but extending support to the unconstitutional acts of the PPP government.

It is just naive if we believe, as PML (N) and its advocates make us believe, that the present PML (N) is a different political party and that it is not seeking power through any means as PPP has sought and succeeded. It is just waiting for its term to grab the power. One can quote the statement of late Benazir Bhutto which she issued when the Charter of Democracy was signed: First we shall rule, and then it will be the turn of Nawaz Sharif.

However, if PML (N) is really a different party now, it must demonstrate that. It should abandon its policy of appeasement towards the PPP government. It should get rid of the fear lest its constitutional struggle against the PPP government should be termed as a return to the vengeful politics of 80s and 90s, or should result in a military coup, or should result in the loss of its government in Punjab (In both cases, it is going to be lost.). It should make it clear that it will oppose any such takeover tooth and nail. It should take bold stand against all the unconstitutional acts issued from the PPP government or from any other quarter, not only verbally on various fora, but physically on the streets and in the markets also. It should go to the people, take them into confidence, and win their support to bring Pakistan back to constitutional rule. In the words of Barry Goldwater quoted above I would like to remind PML (N) that extremism in the defense of Pakistan’s constitution is no vice, and that moderation in the pursuit of justice, independent judiciary, and rule of law is no virtue!

[This article was completed on October 5, 2008.]

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