I have often observed what a terrible idea making laws for a living is.
However, that is apparently what makes the world go round. But often in their bid to play their much needed part in changing the society for the better, lawmakers often tend to worsen the already terrible laws that are in force.
One of the recent examples of this has been the proposed amendments to the Pakistan Protection Ordinance 2013 by the current Federal Government.
Arguably a bad law, perhaps the PPO 2013 was not so terrible (probably because I always thought the likes of Taliban should be treated as POWs), though it is just about Pakistan’s version of the NDAA 2012. But the PPO 2014 certainly goes a step ahead in ensuring violations of personal liberty.
We are already familiar with the terrible dictatorial orders that our former Prime Ministers have issued in the not so distant past to ban YouTube. But the Federal Government is now considering a Power Conversation Bill that could ban the import of electronic appliances that consume more than a certain limit of power.
There is really no need to elaborate on the terrible lifestyle laws in Punjab imposed by CM Shehbaz Sharif, which include prohibiting flying kites and serving more than one dish in weddings. Not to mention arresting caterers for not observing wedding ceremony timings. But then again, we are entering the realm of elected dictators now.
As far as the PPO is concerned, for a change if only out of political animosity, the parties on the opposition benches put aside all their differences and opposed it with a united voice.
It is hard to disagree with them. As a matter of fact, at this point in time, I have to say that I am proud of the opposition parties. The new ordinance not only overrides many existing legal and constitutional conditions and encourages detention on government orders, but even introduces the term “internment camps”.
I am not sure if the internment camp reference was ever introduced before in the Pakistani law or no. However, this ordinance certainly is a step forward to legalize otherwise illegal detentions and even internment of certain citizens. It only sounds like a new low for the liberty of Pakistani citizens, despite the security situation.
Despite fierce resistance, the treasury benches passed the ordinance on a party line vote in the House, not that the individual members have much of a choice. But since PPP controls the Senate, it could possibly defeat the bill there, since the party so passionately opposes it.
But the citizens of Pakistan are not always so lucky. For the sake of convenience, let us not discuss the multitude of discriminatory laws passed by the parliament anyway.
It is not just about Pakistan actually. Legislators obsessed with constantly changing the society for the better anywhere are arguably a continuous threat to individual liberty of the citizens. And we see this idea in action everyday.
Making bad laws worse.
Let’s conclude this post with an age old liberty cliché that is as true now as it was in the eighteenth century and the eons before. It was encouraging to see a few liberals endorsing the same quote in Pakistan recently.
Those who give up their liberty for more security neither deserve liberty nor security.
- Benjamin Franklin
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