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Constitution the real protector


December 22, 2019

Sitar-e-Shujaat, Nishan-e-Imtiaz

We need to protect every provision of the Constitution to make it stronger enough and enabling it to protect the rights of every citizen and to ensure good governance of Pakistan.

Pakistan was created on the basis of two-nation theory and those who opposed this two-nation theory now have started appreciating Quaid-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah for his vision after seeing the prejudice approach towards the Muslims facing in India. The discriminatory nationality law in India has shaken not only the depressed Muslims of India but also the world which now firmly believes that the policies of PM Modi and his militant wing RSS are unjust and brutal.

The RSS ideology which is strictly followed and being acted upon by Indian PM Modi believes that Hindus are superior to all the people on the analogy of Nazi ideology. The Hindutva ideology sponsored and followed by RSS demands the India belongs only to Hindus and Muslims must either convert to Hinduism or leave the country. This violent ideology believes in ethnic cleansing of Muslims in India which has now been clearly proven by the CAB (Citizenship Amendment Bill) passed by the Indian Parliament, which gives way to Indian citizenship to illegal migrants from other countries who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians excluding only the Muslims.

Such back to back discriminatory policies, first the revocation of Article 370 and now the approval of CAB by the Indian Govt against Muslims are self-explanatory to the fact that Muslims are being targeted under a planned agenda.

Let us appreciate here as a nation that creation of Pakistan was blessing for all of us. The vision of Quaid-e-Azam was to have rule of law to run the country and justice for all factions of society without any impunity to anyone considering that nobody is above the law.

We became an independent nation under green flag which is symbol of our unity. I have question to those who believe in new Pakistan and not old Pakistan that, can they think of a new flag as well? Obviously, the national response would be ‘No’ hence talking of better and prosperous Pakistan would be in our best national interest and not the creation of a New Pakistan. In fact, the slogan of new Pakistan itself is against the spirit of the Constitution of Pakistan.

The Constitution branded Pakistan as “The Islamic Republic of Pakistan” hence it cannot be renamed as The Islamic Republic of New Pakistan and also legally we cannot call Pakistan as new Pakistan. Pakistan belongs to the people of Pakistan and not to any party or any ruler. Let the rulers not deface our country with their blurred ideas.

Have you ever heard the politicians of USA calling New USA, New India or New UK? No. So no one likes to call their countries as new countries because they love to stick to their identity and constitutions which if changed would no longer belong to them.

It is neither an old Pakistan nor new Pakistan but only Pakistan, let us not call it new Pakistan. The thing that is required the most in the given situation is to improve the governance at all levels.

Why we have failed to bring in effective and efficient governance? We have made Pakistan as “Aadha Teetar, Aadha Batair”.

1. The main reason is that every incoming government comes with the agenda of discrediting the previous government. All the efforts are exerted to mug the face of the previous administration which is our first mistake. Initiating an accountability process against any person, politicians included, and providing justice are the responsibility of the concerned institutions and not the prime minister of the cabinet ministers. It is not their jurisdiction to run a campaign of blame games against the opposition, opponents and interfere in the investigation.

2. Lack of ability to make strong and competent team to take the government on the right direction by taking flawless policies and decision making.

3. It is not healthy sign for our democracy for mostly having a deadlock on constitutional matters including appointments. This shows that our system is now depleting and unable to make the right decisions due to political motivated interest. It shows that we have not become matured enough to handle the national issues and challenges required to be proceeded with the collective wisdom of the government and the opposition.

4. Now the latest crisis is emerging because of non-consensus on a proposed name for the Chief Election Commissioner from the names proposed by the opposition and the government. The reason as to why we got stuck was because we do not follow the right approach under the Constitution.

5. According to the Constitution, the Election Commission operates under Article 213 to 221. The Article 213 related to appointment of Chief Election Commissioner and Article 218 related to Election Commission itself. Under the Article 213 & 216, the Chief Election Commissioner and four retired judges of the high courts from respective four province of the country or any civil servant, are appointed by the president in the manner provided in the clauses (2A) and (2B) of Article 213 of Constitution but the government failed to create consensus with the opposition within the time line restricted by the Constitution.

6. We as nation draft and pass our laws according to the western standards but when it comes to implementation then we behave and act in highly non-democratic manners and our personal likes and dislikes overtake our democratic and constitutional responsibilities.

There is a question in the mind of a common man that why such a deadlock is always faced by the nation? Obviously, this is because of unwise clashes of government and opposition. There is always a war like situation between government and the opposition on the issues of constitutional appointment where the government needs to be more responsible and flexible in such matters but it looks this government has fallen prey of its own false egos and unfortunately many national issues have fallen victim of this war of power and ego. The leadership is seemingly unable to rise above the party politics in the greater national interest.

Another matter at this point was the recent extension of our COAS which is also handled in highest non-professional manners and I had written a detailed article that the said appointment/extension is the declared authority of the prime minister; hence his office may be made more effective by allowing him to exercise his powers in matters of any constitutional or administrative appointments including the appointments of all defence chiefs.

The government may have some valid grievances with opposition but ultimately it has more responsibilities as compared to the opposition to the nation. It is the only country that has to suffer because of such chaos and standstills due to personal egos of the leaders. It must be found out why the cabinet did not take up these two matters seriously at least 45 days before the expiry of the tenures.

I am constraint to point out that the cabinet spends more time to invent new ways and means to rub their political opponents including the sitting opposition but no time to such important national issues. I was further disturbed to see that the last cabinet meeting spent half of its time to find the ways and means in term of deliberating a law to block those opponents from appearing in media who are under trial or are in process of court proceedings and I see this as sheer wastage of time of cabinet.

The elected representative must realise that they owe their duties to the people of Pakistan to uphold the dignity and supremacy of the Parliament as it is the custodian of its honour and pride. It is their obligation to ensure that people's confidence in the Parliament remains unhurt. This can only be achieved with their selfless and honest national approach without personal interests and with a collective national approach. They have to ensure that such disputes are resolved without involving the courts and other external intervention and if it continues then Parliament will lose its writ.

These appointments procedure needs to be revisited and come up with simple and do-able solution.

A study shows that India, USA and France have good models of appointments of their election administrators and we should adopt the most successful models rather than making new ones just for trial purpose.

Election commissioners of India are members of Election Commission of India, a body constitutionally empowered to conduct free and fair elections in India to the national and state legislatures. The Election commissioners are usually retired IAS or IRS officers.

By and large, there is a role of the Parliament in almost all democratic countries. Although we have a tailored-made constitutional process for the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and the members of the Commission including the appointment of the defence chiefs but unfortunately, we have mostly failed every time to make constitutional appointments or got into controversies because of either incompetency or due to political egos. We advocate that the Parliament is supreme but in reality, we parliamentarians undermine it by making it a fish market during the Parliament sessions.

Are we following the constitutional provisions and the role of the Parliament? Ironically, the level of the implementation of the recommendations of the parliamentary committees is reported very poorly by the government being no mandatory on the government except enactments.

The national institutions need to be run under the rule of law and not in accordance with the likes & dislikes of the ruler of the time. Let the rule of law to prevail in the country and not the ruler to rule the rule of law tailoring it to his ruling requirements. Is it not the time to revisit our social justice system and the provisions of Constitution to update our present requirements? Our internal and external policies need to be revisited to improve it to the growing needs of the country to meet our home grown as well as external challenges.

We need the implementation of “rule of law” as a real cure and solution to our problems. We all need to treat “our Constitution” like our mother and ensure to respect it. We need to protect its each provision as our future lies into protecting our future generations.

I appeal that let us protect our Pakistan given to us by our Quaid-e-Azam and we should not give names to Pakistan as a political slogan as it is also against the Constitution of Pakistan. Let’s join hands to achieve and protect our national interests, such as:

1. We need to concentrate on stabilising our economy enabling the people to start living above the poverty line.

2. We have to give up on ad-hocism and move towards long term policies.

3. We have to follow the given timelines in implementing the constitutional provision governing the institutional set ups.

4. We need to follow Constitution governing the budgetary provisions and provincial grants and their share in the Federation including the NFC award.

5. We need to resolve the recent disputes on the appointment of chief election commissioner and the chief of defence forces amicably by using the collective political wisdom rising above politics in the greater national interest.

Long Live our Pakistan duly protected under our Constitution.

Note: Opinions expressed are solely my own and not necessarily to reflect the views or opinions of my party.

The writer is former interior minister of Pakistan, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior and Chairman of Think Tank "Global Eye". He can be reached at: [email protected], Twitter @Senrehmanmalik