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Sunday June 16, 2024

Let voices of sanity resonate

By Raoof Hasan
June 09, 2023

Every society is an amalgam of ideas, interests and proclivities which are not always similar in nature. In fact, more often, they reflect the vast spectrum of the societal fabric, signifying its diversity and the challenges it faces to generate a forward momentum.Its convergences and divergences are represented by interest groups, whether political in nature or belonging to other sectors of national life. The projection of their cause/s is mostly partisan in nature which is principally focussed on advancing a narrative that would promote their interest spectrum. Multiple such narratives keep floating around which, at times, create an environment of conflict, even chaos.

The challenge for every society is to come to terms with this phenomenon and remain committed to moving on with the task of managing the state functions transparently and efficiently without any bias towards one set of people or the other. These are the values that spring from the constitution which is supreme in terms of providing guidance and helping untangle any issues which may come up.

It is when what is contained in the statute book is defied with apparent impunity that issues of a more serious nature arise which, at times, may require a broader appraisal of the contents and implementation mechanisms which may be available. We are currently living through a comparable situation where institutions of the state are pitted against each other with little desire for referring to the constitution for guidance and resolution.

This is despite the clarity with which such guidelines may be available as also the methods of their implementation. Instead, various institutions of the state are engaged in a bitter tussle to claim supremacy over others. The most notable of such conflicts is emanating from the floor of parliament which has taken on the judiciary with an intent to defy it and get away with its grave transgressions which may distort the very foundations of the state.

It is the fundamental responsibility of the government to ensure implementation of what is contained in the statute book in its entirety, and without exception. If that were not so, it would lose its legitimacy and rationale to govern. Such a government which lives in contempt of the constitution and relevant adjudications of the apex court is rendered guilty of assaulting the foundations of the state and must, therefore, quit, or be forced to do so. This can happen by the apex court passing its order and then asking the relevant state institutions to help it in getting it implemented as per article 190 of the constitution which states that “all executive and judicial authorities throughout Pakistan shall act in aid of the Supreme Court”.

While the federal government and its institutions including the Election Commission have lived in contempt of the constitution, the provincial caretaker governments in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have also gone past their mandated 90 days to hold elections, despite the apex court adjudication to do that. With their failure, they too have been rendered unconstitutional. So, in essence, the federal government and the provincial governments of Punjab and KP are all in contempt of the constitution at this stage and, consequently, must be ordered out.

That is where the ball is tossed to the Supreme Court to give its adjudication. But, knowing full well that its order will not be implemented, it has dithered in giving its judgement. Notwithstanding that, the three governments, by being in contempt of the constitution, have been denuded of all legal and moral certification for their existence. With the judiciary having failed to perform its task, there is no other forum available that has the power to bring this grave aberration to its end. Thus, a disdainful charade goes on unabated.

Concurrently, one hears loud noises of plans to move into the future. What is certain is that the government has no intention to go into elections until Imran Khan has been neutralized one way or the other but his popularity has not been dented. With almost 150 cases registered against him, an effort is now afoot to have him declared ineligible to participate in elections whenever they are held. But will that change his constantly improving ratings?

One is also hearing the prospect of installation of a technocratic government primarily to get the country out of the economic morass which it has been plunged into. This could come through declaration of an economic emergency and getting its validation, yet again, from the judiciary – the original authors of the doctrine of necessity. In that event, the elections too can be postponed for the time being.

One fails to understand how long we will continue playing around with the letter and spirit of the constitution, using it to get every unconstitutional decree through in its name. This vile and wicked tradition has been used with abandon in the past and, from the way things are at this juncture, it appears that we are not yet willing to consign it to where it deserves to be. It is now being brought out of the bin again to be made full use of either to elongate the tenure of an unconstitutional government or induct yet another concoction to carry forth the agenda. Either way, such a fabrication will remain shorn of even a shred of legitimacy.

We have been hearing a variety of loud but hollow voices all over this country. Mostly they have been the instruments for putting together (unconstitutional) governments which are preconceived and preordained. These voices ring with much artificial fervour and passion, but they are void of legitimacy as they only follow the dictat of the powerful. The edifice raised on the hollowness of these voices is a wobbly structure which is bound to crumble with time, as we have been witness to so often in the past.We have suffered the excesses of these hollow voices for long. What we need instead are voices of sanity which are few and far between. It is only such voices which can drive reason into the rationale for the state and its continued existence.I would end with the wise words of Barbara Marciniak: “The history of your world is filled with the voice of the victor, the voice of power, although it was not always a voice of sanity, by any means”. Let rationality be the guide. Let voices of sanity resonate.

The writer is the information secretary of the PTI, and a

fellow at King’s College London. He tweets @RaoofHasan