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Beware of Collaborators!

It takes more than 25 years for our politicians to agree upon a constitution and to have it enforced, and then through the next 35 years they tried their best to betray it. Prior to 1973, we were living in the wilderness of a constitutional anarchy; after that, we are living in the wilderness of a constitutional graveyard.

by Dr. Khalil Ahmad

Set aside justice, then, and what are kingdoms but great bands of brigands? For what are brigands’ bands but little kingdoms? For in brigandage the hands of the underlings are directed by the commander, the confederacy of them is sworn together, and the pillage is shared by law among them. And if those ragamuffins grow up to be able enough to keep forts, build habitations, possess cities, and conquer adjoining nations, then their government is no longer called brigandage, but graced with the eminent name of a kingdom, given and gotten not because they have left their practices but because they use them without danger of law.
-St. Augustine, City of God, Book IV

It takes more than 25 years for our politicians to agree upon a constitution and to have it enforced, and then through the next 35 years they tried their best to betray it. Prior to 1973, we were living in the wilderness of a constitutional anarchy; after that, we are living in the wilderness of a constitutional graveyard.

Both are equally and utterly detrimental to the interests of ordinary people of Pakistan. To elite classes, it poses no serious danger. They always enjoy it, rather flourished under such circumstances. During the later quasi-constitutional interregnum (1973-2008), they completely took over the state of Pakistan, and transformed it into an elitist state virtually governed by its security establishment. This proves the fact how the constitution was manipulated to the benefit of the elite classes. This also demonstrates that having no constitution and having a constitution makes no difference to the lives of ordinary citizens of Pakistan. During both of the periods, they had no access to justice and no security of their fundamental rights and freedoms.

In recent times, it was last year in March and then via the rule of law movement and thanks to a vibrant electronic media that the issue of justice and fundamental rights (personal freedoms) came to the notice of ordinary people. They came to realize how badly they need a constitution and an independent judiciary to have rule of law and to have access to justice, and to have their fundamental rights ensured to them. They learned a lesson written on the wall in bold that it is the establishment and its allies, the elite classes of Pakistan, which do not need constitution, independent judiciary, rule of law, and security of fundamental rights to the ordinary citizens of Pakistan.

Now in the wake of February elections and the events taking place in its aftermath, history is once again repeating itself. Again, it is the politicians this time especially belonging to the Pakistan Peoples Party, and Awami National Party, who have treacherously collaborated with the establishment. The main culprit is PPP which has butchered the constitution, buried it, and built the edifice of the present “democratic government” on its grave. Its leaders, MNAs, MPAs, and followers have collaborated with their top leaders in their quest for unbridled power while forsaking the dictates of the constitution of Pakistan.

For the last many years, it almost turned into a political cliché that politicians had been dubbed corrupt, power hungry, incompetent, and inefficient. It was said that they had wrongly been targeted by the powerful elite. It may be that in order to conceal the unconstitutionality of their acts, the security establishment would have, through a planned campaign, vilified the politicians. But who can argue that “the bloody civilians” have nothing to be blamed for. They are just innocent. The present PPP government under an unconstitutional arrangement and as an extension of the previous dictatorial/unconstitutional rule exposes the verity of this cliché. I repeat it with emphasis that it is our politicians who are the traitors. It is they who collaborate in the slaughter of our constitution. It is they who collaborate in the burial of our constitution. It is they who collaborate in building the edifice of a civilian government on the grave of our constitution!

Since 1973, it is a recurring sight that the mutilated constitution is celebrated to usher in a new era of ‘civilian democracy.’ The unconstitutional acts of the military dictators are indemnified and dictators given safe passage. Just after the enforcement of the 1973 constitution, the same party that boasts of giving Pakistan a constitution makes a travesty of it. When in 1977 a military dictator imposes martial law, politicians welcome it and collaborate with it. They criminally slip into a pseudo-democratic government to give dictatorship a semblance of ‘true democracy.’ Then once again when in 1999 another military dictator bulldozes the constitution of Pakistan, the politicians present themselves to his attendance. Another pseudo-democratic government comes into existence under the aegis of the dictatorship. The same drama is re-enacted.

Now yet again in 2008, it is the politicians who are collaborating with and strengthening the establishment whose hold on the state and government of Pakistan in the face of the rule of law movement had gone awry. The moment PPP won in the general elections, it set itself for the power game. Even before the elections, it was involved in a notorious deal with the dictator that came to fore as one of the most damaging pieces of legislation in the history of Pakistan, i.e. the NRO. The treachery and betrayal that PPP has wreaked to the ordinary people of Pakistan this time is not only greater than that of 1970-71, but fatal also. This time, it is rescuing the crumbling establishment from its downfall; it is ditching the ever first genuinely pro-democratic, pro-people and constitutionalist movement, the rule of law movement; it is collaborating with the establishment to restore its sway over the Pakistani state; it is accepting a mutilated constitution and itself playing with the constitution; it is protecting the dictator who twice abrogated the constitution, dismantled the highest seat of justice in Pakistan, and destroyed every institution. What else could be the greater crime? By collaborating in all these crimes and justifying them, it is equally culpable as the actual criminal is.

(The recent politics of Pakistan Muslim League (N) deserves to be discussed in a separate article.)

Under the circumstances, attaching any positive expectations with this government is just childish. It is like befooling ourselves in broad daylight. But surprisingly presently there is a sea of such tomfooleries. Instead, what these times require from us is that we should rally around two things. First is that rarest commodity in Pakistan whom we know as Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, our Honorable Chief Justice of our Pakistan. The second is that precious document which we know as the 1973 constitution of our Pakistan. In this dark hour, they are like two lighthouses. They will show us the way out and way ahead.


Dr. Khalil Ahmad is president and founder of the Alternate Solutions Institute, Pakistan’s first free-market think tank.