March 31, 2014 will remain to be a historic day for Pakistan as a democracy.
Call it political point scoring or obsession with political correctness, but for the first time ever, a special civil court has indicted a former Army General for high treason for abrogating the Constitution.
He has been indicted for the November 2007 emergency, even though I guess his bigger crime was the October 1999 coup d’etat.
However, there is no sense of jubilation among the people of Pakistan. There is a good reason for that.
From the beginning, the Pakistani government establishment has undermined the importance of the Constitution in people’s eyes. And they have very much succeeded in it too.
This is why every time there is an imminent need to suspend people’s rights to save the State, nobody raises a brow. And this is why the violators get away with it every time, destroying the democratic system of government.
And no, I have absolutely no interest in people declaring President Musharraf a “traitor”. Neither do I support the barbaric law of capital punishment for treason.
But I am interested in seeing people who break the law brought to justice. I am interested to see some fair and equal treatment, especially when hundreds of thousands are rotting in prisons for acts that are arguably not even crimes.
Even if the secularists of Pakistan accept the Constitution of Pakistan for its own merits, it should serve as an inviolable social contract for the citizens.
Not only should the Constitution be respected, but it should not be suspended under any circumstances to protect the fundamental rights of the people. And any amendment whatsoever must be channeled through the legislative branch under the supervision of the Supreme Court.
It is this attitude that has left people not offering a lot of weight to the Constitution as far as the protection of their rights is concerned. And this is precisely why they have largely been left unaware of their fundamental rights.
However, clearly this is not a day of victory or celebration for most Pakistani people. To many of them, this is just another piece of daily news. Inconsequential, because they know that the military will ultimately come to the rescue of the General.
Probably the real historic day would only arrive when the people of Pakistan actually start believing in their fundamental rights as given in the Constitution. And standing up for them too.
But it’s encouraging to see that we are making progress.
Filed under: Commentary | Tagged: 1973 Constitution of Pakistan, Article 6, authoritarianism, capital punishment, civil court, civilians, Constitution, coup d'etat, death penalty, democracy, education, fundamental rights, General, government, law, liberty, life, Pakistan, Pakistan Army, Pervez Musharraf, politics, President, secularists, Supreme Court, traitor, treason | Leave a comment »