The Message of the Film

From the film “I Clowns” or “The Clowns” (1970)

© 1970 RAI – RadioTelevisione Italiana, Compagnia Leone Cinematografica

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The Minimum Responsibility

Source: ISPR

Pakistan is probably the only country in the world where coups are always unmistakably bloodless and unopposed.

But there is a slight problem with such carte blanche bloodless coups. It has become somewhat of an accepted practice, and one which is almost taken for granted. Just like how rapists are turned into grooms in a conservative society.

There has been recent news that the Pakistani government is to try General Pervez Musharraf for treason for abrogating the constitution. I think it is encouraging that finally the authorities are taking note of people abrogating the constitution. However, there is a problem with it.

First of all, I am, by no means, implying that such a trial should not be held and am surely not apologizing for the General. But I would only support it to be symbolic as long as the barbaric law of death for treason remains in effect. I would also like the prosecution to include other personnel to establish the minimum responsibility for the charge, of course with the degrees of responsibility and offense taken into consideration.  

While discussing the illegal and unconstitutional take over of the government by Musharraf, we must also try those who were directly responsible for preventing it. Now I am not saying that we should not hold people accountable for breaking the law, as some supporters of Musharraf would like to do, by demanding obstruction to a trial because a lot of other people were involved too. Especially when Article 6 of the constitution includes the clause of those aiding in the abrogation of the constitution. If the trial goes on at all, that is.

There is a reason why minimum responsibility should be established in this case and why it is not equivalent to inaction in other moral problems, because it has a legal basis. This is because army officers are responsible as per their oath to uphold the Constitution of Pakistan. This is why at least the Armed forces corps commanders should be responsible to stop the Army Chief from abrogating the constitution and taking over the country.

Arguably this should also be true for judges, civil servants and politicians, but given the precedence of military might in Pakistan in terms of politics, that is a relatively unrealistic demand, but a reasonable one and certainly not without basis in legal logic.

Furthermore, who are the only ones who have any real power to prevent someone from their ranks abusing the law and the constitution of the country? It is indeed none else but the army leadership. And to be more accurate with establishing the minimum responsibility, the corps commanders, probably.

Why it is that all the corps commanders apparently seem to be fine with the idea of their chief or even one of them arresting the Prime Minister and taking over the government? Why do they not defect from this defecting and technically treasonous faction of the state and prevent an action that is not only unlawful, but malicious to the Republic?

Why can the military not disobey all the unlawful commands of their corrupt superior and actually arrest the one person or a few who are actually the ones who need to be removed? It is only they who can prevent  this unconstitutional and dictatorial atrocity from occurring. After all, it is only they who have the necessary force to commit the crime in the first place.

But no, our military officers would be under the delusion of genuinely believing that the military rule is what the country really needed, believe it or not.

Or afterwards, when a democratic government is installed, they would justify their complicity by citing the blind military discipline to be the reason when they follow the unconstitutional and illegal commands of their superiors, such as arresting the elected Prime Minister and the cabinet.

What becomes of the blind military discipline when military commanders plan and act to stage coups? What becomes of the blind military discipline when the top military brass decides to supersede the authority of those who they are answerable to?

Army officers following unconstitutional and illegal orders from their superiors is neither discipline nor responsibility. It only makes them a party to a crime which is in clear violation of their oath, which also makes it a professional failure, surely a greater problem than jeopardizing democracy.

Let us establish at least the minimum reasonable responsibility for treason for the October 1999 coup, if we are to try for it at all.

Let us try all the corps commanders and commanding officers carrying out unconstitutional and authoritarian measures of force. And those who failed to prevent them. In that order and, if found guilty, penalizing with the respective degree.

But let us first remove the ridiculous penalty of death for the charge of treason.

Changing the Rules

Source: Gary Cameron: Reuters - Business Insider

Source: Gary Cameron: Reuters – Business Insider

In response to the Republican filibuster of President Obama’s nominees for the DC circuit Court of Appeal judges, apart from record filibusters, the US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) used the simple majority to change the Senate rule requiring a filibustered nomination to be passed by 60 votes.

On November 21, 2013, the historic motion passed 52-48 simply majority votes in a 55 member Democrat-controlled Senate with 1 independent, ending an old rule that ensures protecting the minority party in this case.

3 Democrats went against party lines to vote against the call, including Senator Carl Levin (D-MI). I consider these three senators heroes and wise in their judgement indeed.

I am disappointed with the vote of the only independent senator joining the Democrats in this majoritarian ruling, who has actually participated in a filibusters before, and may know a thing or two about the ills of giving carte blanche to the majority party.

Of course, both parties blamed each other for going far enough to bring about this measure. But at the end of the day, it is the Democratic initiative that is the worse of the two, as it goes against the very spirit of the institution of the US Senate. The terrible part is people on both left and right are only advocating going much further than this, which makes you wonder how little regard they have for such measures that are meant to check absolute power.

Probably no one has described the rule change maneuver called “nuclear option” more clearly, comprehensively, passionately and articulately than Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). Here is what he had to say, and I second and endorse every single word.

It is appalling that some short sighted and authoritarian leaning commentators on the left are celebrating this measure as a political victory, because it really is a common, non-partisan loss for democracy.

Sadly, despite the excessive Republican filibusters and its alleged abuse, the Democratic party and President Barack Obama have only laid bare their authoritarian mindset by supporting this measure, which may appear to be democratic but is majoritarian and contrary to the spirit of the Senate and the function of the bicameral legislature. Particularly appalling because of the views of Democrat senators, including Barack Obama (D-IL), Harry Reid (D-NV) and Joe Biden (D-DE) against such an action in a Republican controlled Senate in 2005. Even though criticized by his own ranks, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) appeared the more responsible of the two leaders, at least on this day.

While the constitution may provide for it, I would not hesitate to term this measure as leaning toward being undemocratic and authoritarian. And as John McCain put it, it was a sad day, for the system of government that makes America great. Especially for me, who looks up to democracy in America, living in a party leadership controlled dictatorship disguised as parliamentary democracy, with hideous provisions such as the 14th Amendment to the Pakistan Constitution.

Why present an executive nomination in Senate for voting anyway, you would ask. It is merely an instrument of obstruction.

You just don’t change the rules when they do not fit your needs and call it fairness.

Hire-a-Mob

Source: asianews.it

Source: asianews.it

It is pretty elementary, yet so many people have been missing the point for such a long time. Not others though, because no one uses this openly secret weapon like religious groups.

In a democracy, the numbers count. For votes. But in half-baked democracies such as those in the Indian subcontinent, and in Pakistan in particular, it is the numbers with the pitchforks that count.

Yes, if you have the numbers, and passion, mobs can do just about anything for you.

Time and again, over decades, consistently and repeatedly, we have observed that rioting mobs have been and are superior to the police. They are the only force. There is simply no match.

The subcontinent has this proud medieval tradition of rioting. And then there are vendetta riots. Armed vigilantes taking control of things themselves and making sure that justice is delivered there and then.

Needless to say, that these mobs are often than not motivated by religion. Hindu Muslim riots, Hindu Christian riots, Muslim Christian riots, Muslim Ahmedi riots, Sunni Shia riots, partition riots, ethnic riots, favorite cult or political leader assassinated riots, anti Western blasphemy riots.

The history is so rich, both in variety and frequency of events, that a systematic proof is not even necessary.

The police has learned never to stand in the way of this unstoppable force. Any resistance is futile. When a mob is invading, the best bet for a cop is to run for his life and turn his firearms over to them like a responsible trooper.

After all, the police is neither trained, nor paid, nor equipped to handle these mobs. The worse that could happen is a few days of curfew and the military patrolling the streets. What could possibly go wrong?

So if you have an agenda, the most profitable way of achieving instant and tangible results is to hire a mob. There are professional rioters around who can execute the job with great skill and controlling chaos.

And the state is forced to listen to you. Rioting mobs forced the state to ban YouTube. Perhaps, activists who campaign against internet censorship could use the same tactics. But seriously, the state listens to rioters, say laid off government employees.

Of course, if you are in the business of insurance, life can be difficult for you. A lot of lost bets. Frequent claims, that is, if people bother to buy your hopeless policies at all.

But what of the relatively secular, god-fearing businessman and poor low key resident who is caught in the middle of the storm, just because they happened to be somewhere at the wrong time in the wrong place? Well, what of them? They are just a casualty.

If you are a Pakistani businessman, you are going to pay some very high premiums, especially if your business office or warehouse is located near a religious or political structure. Or even if it is located at a prominent location, where it is supposed to be, or a city square known to be a frequent rioting ground.

The most useful rioting agenda could be setting up an attack on one’s own office or home in order to lodge an insurance claim or to get rid of inconvenient office record. Just stir a riot for a reasonably unreasonable reason, and sit back and enjoy the show.

Who could ever possibly know?

So if you live in some city or village in Pakistan with reasonable population, you could be the next casualty. You have been warned.

Perhaps saying a little prayer at the right time could help.