Monday January 30, 2023

A sordid tale

Matters sub judice is a different thing. However, disagreeing with or showing displeasure over a dec

January 07, 2012
Matters sub judice is a different thing. However, disagreeing with or showing displeasure over a decision already announced by a court of law is something else. But yes, the tone and tenor of those who denounce a court decision can be seen as objectionable. And, the honourable judges have all the right to assert their legitimate authority and charge any individual or institution with contempt of court.
To a humble student of political history and an ordinary citizen of the state of Pakistan like me, who is neither a public servant nor an elected representative and neither runs a big business nor an influential media house, the increased self-consciousness and assertion of legal authority by the superior judiciary is a part of the process of political evolution. It may well be seen as a positive development because this otherwise prestigious institution of the state, the custodian of the rights of the citizens guaranteed in the constitution, has traditionally remained servile to the country’s military dictators. Barring a few judges, most would take oath under a Provisional Constitutional Order that each coup would necessitate. But if the court has decided to make “A final move to shut up habitual contemners of (the) apex court”, to quote a front page story of this newspaper, it must also be making the final moves to restrict habitual abrogators of the constitution of Pakistan.
Speaking of contempt, where do we go and who do we appeal to as people of this country against the contemptuous treatment meted out to us since 1947? Just to refresh the memory of my readers, I quote a few incidents from our bloodstained and chequered political history where the people of Pakistan, a majority or a minority, were treated with utter contempt by the state establishment comprising both the civil and military elite.
After the 1970 general elections, the majority party of the people of the then Pakistan, the Awami League, was denied the right to form a government at

the centre, which they could have done by forming a coalition with the National Awami Party in the western wing. The popular mandate of the people of Pakistan was disregarded and treated with contempt. East Pakistanis received contemptuous treatment all along as an ethnic group by the state establishment dominated by the West Pakistanis, besides being economically and politically marginalised for over two decades but not accepting their democratic right proved to be the final blow to the Pakistan created in 1947.
Not even a decade had passed when another popular political leader of the people was unconstitutionally sacked and then killed after a mock judicial process. In the ensuing years, working class, women, religious minorities and people belonging to smaller provinces were treated with horrid contempt. Laws were made against those who were weak and such policies were pursued that resources were snatched away from the common people.
Today, as has been the case many times in the past, the Baloch citizens of the state of Pakistan continue to be treated with contempt. Bullet-riddled bodies are found, men are missing and communities live in fear. Balochistan is seen as a mass of land full of minerals and not as a part of the country where people are living for centuries. Pakhtuns are either seen as cartridges to be used against the enemy or branded as brainless terrorists. What else is this but contempt?
There is contempt for Shia Muslims, for non-Muslim Pakistanis, for the poor, for women and for anyone who is different from the mainstream affluent Pakistani male with orthodox views.

The writer is an Islamabad-based poet and author.
Email: harris.khalique@gmail. com