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January 7, 2018
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The politics of reason

Opinion

January 7, 2018

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Pakistan has a chequered political history because of the tragedies inflicted by politicians and political parties in their quest for power, and their failure to implement the manifesto bequeathed to them by Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in his speech in the Constituent Assembly.

Things have come to such a pass after 70 years of Independence that a dual national who is not even eligible to contest legislative assembly elections is trying to disrupt the system through his bizarre machinations. The main political parties have jumped onto the bandwagon to destabilise the sitting government. It is, indeed, a shameful situation at a time when the country undoubtedly faces grave internal and external threats that require impregnable national unity and political stability.

On April 21, 1990, a firing incident was reported at the residence of Tahirul Qadri and he blamed the Punjab government for an attempt to assassinate him. The Punjab government constituted a single-member judicial commission to probe the matter. During the proceedings of the inquiry, Qadri also tried to give the impression that the attack was orchestrated by the JI. On the basis of the investigation and the forensic evidence that was presented before it, the commission concluded that Qadri’s claims could not been corroborated.

When Qadri had returned to Pakistan in 2012 before the 2013 general elections with the proclaimed mission to reform the country, and held his first dharna, he had also filed a petition in the Supreme Court that called for the re-constitution of the ECP. The petition was dismissed. The apex court’s short order stated that: “Qadri has failed to make…a case for exercising the discretionary jurisdiction by the court under Article 184(3) of the constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan for the facts that [the] violation of any of the fundamental rights under chapter 1 of Part II of the constitution has neither been listed in the petition nor [has it been] established during course of arguments. The petitioner has failed to prove his bonafides to invoke the jurisdiction of this court coupled with the fact that under peculiar circumstances he has no locus standi to claim relief …[given that he is]… a holder of dual citizenship [and] is not qualified to contest the elections to… parliament in view of the constitutional bar under Article 63(1)(c).

“Before parting with the short order, it is essential to note that at the time of concluding his arguments on the points noted hereinabove, he started making uncalled-for aspersions against the member of the bench, which are tantamount prima facie to undermine its authority calling for action against him for contempt of court under Article 204(3) of the constitution read with Section 3 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003. However, we, while exercising restraint, have decided not to proceed against him following the principle that such jurisdiction has to be exercised sparingly on [a] case-to-case basis”.

Besides giving the grounds for the dismissal of Qadri’s petition, the court also thought it fit to point out the intemperate behaviour of Qadri that warranted contempt of court proceedings against him. But the court exercised restraint.

A great deal of evidence that emerged at the time of the second dharna pointed towards a conspiracy against the government. These included the statements made by Javed Hashmi and the brother of Shah Mehmood Qureshi. But somehow, the government survived the attempt and Qadri had to abandon the sit-in well before Imran finally decided to end his protest. It is pertinent to mention that before Qadri and Imran embarked on their respective marches in 2014, the LHC had declared their actions unconstitutional. But they still went ahead with the protests.

The Model Town tragedy – which has become a rallying point for the political parties that attended the all-parties conference (APC) convened by the PAT – was a tragic incident since it culminated in the loss of human lives. However, the matter is already in the court and should be left for it to decide.

In light of the Najafi report, the PAT has the right to knock on the doors of the judiciary to demand justice. But there is no justification for the party to demand the resignations of the chief minister and the law minister and threaten to stage a sit-in so as to have their demands accepted. This is surely a recipe for chaos and anarchy in the country. The APC declaration also urged the chief justice of Pakistan to form a JIT to probe the killings and insisted that the investigation should be monitored by a Supreme Court judge. The issue needs to be settled through judicial forums rather than political agitation motivated by considerations other than a desire to seek justice for the victims of the Model Town tragedy.

The fact that the PPP and the PTI are trying to use Qadri’s shoulders to settle scores with the incumbent government – motivated by political vendetta and an ostensible attempt to thwart the ensuing Senate elections – indicates their political bankruptcy. What they fail to realise is that their antics will jeopardise the process of consolidating democratic gains and consign the country to a perennial wave of political instability. This would not only harm our national interests but would also scuttle their democratic credentials – if they had any.

They must have faith in the judgment of the people instead of resorting to unconstitutional means to pull down their political opponents. Elections are only months away and people must be allowed to exercise their right of franchise in a democratic way.

The writer is a freelance contributor.

Email: [email protected]

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