By Akhtar Malik
24 June, 2013
IS PERVEZ MUSHARAF THE ONLY ONE WHO ABROGATED THE CONSTITUTION?
Prime Minister Nawaz Shareef has announced in National Assembly on 24 June 2013 that Federal Government has decided to prosecute Gen Pervez Musharaf under Article 6 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Gen Pervez Musharaf, as the Army Chief, had abrogated the constitution twice; first in 1999 by toppling an elected government of NS and second in 2007 by imposing emergency plus and sending the judges of the superior courts into illegal custody. Obviously he has committed a grave offense that merits proper punishment under the law of land. He had voluntarily surrendered himself before the law in March this year to face all the pending cases against him.
But the question arises; is Musharaf the only one who has abrogated the constitution? Is no one else in Pakistan guilty of the same heinous crime? Let us have a quick analysis of the situation.
I am neither a supporter of Pervez Musharaf nor I condone this crime of high treason. I believe that Pervez Musharaf is responsible for majority of the ills and problems through which this country is passing today. But what about a large number of other people who are guilty of the same crime of flouting the constitution and still are enjoying immunity on one pretext or the other. Let us see how the constitution of Pakistan has been violated and desecrated time and again.
Article 11 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan says:
(1) Slavery is non-existent and forbidden and no law shall permit or facilitate its introduction into Pakistan in any form.
(2) All forms of forced labor and traffic in human beings are prohibited.
(3) No child below the age of fourteen years shall be engaged in any factory or mine or any other hazardous employment.
Article 25 (1) of the Constitution says:
‘All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law’.
Article 32 of the Constitution says:
‘The State shall encourage local Government institutions composed of elected representatives of the areas concerned and in such institutions special representation will be given to peasants, workers and women’.
Article 38 of the Constitution reads:
‘The State shall-
(a) secure the well-being of the people, irrespective of sex, caste, creed or race, by raising their standard of living, by preventing the concentration of wealth and means of
production and distribution in the hands of a few to the detriment of general interest and by ensuring equitable adjustment of rights between employers and employees, and
landlords and tenants;
(b) provide for all citizens, within the available resources of the country, facilities for work and adequate livelihood with reasonable rest and leisure;
(c) provide for all persons employed in the service of Pakistan or otherwise, social security by compulsory social insurance or other means;
(d) provide basic necessities of life, such as food, clothing, housing , education and medical relief, for all such citizens, irrespective of sex caste, creed or race, as are permanently or temporarily unable to earn their livelihood on account of infirmity, sickness or unemployment;
(e) reduce disparity in the income and earnings of individuals, including persons in the various classes of the service of Pakistan; and
(f) eliminate riba as early as possible’.
Tell me which government, ruler, leader or political party, since inception of the constitution in 1973 has:
• Taken steps to stop concentration of wealth in few hands.
• Provided facilities for work and adequate livelihood to citizens.
• Provided basic necessities of life like food, shelter, education, medical etc to its those citizens who are unable to earn.
• Reduced disparity in the income and earnings of individuals (rather this disparity has increased over the period of time)
• Made even slightest effort to eliminate Riba (interest)
• Ensured an equal and just treatment to all its citizens under the law.
• Eliminated slavery and forced labor. Even today there are private jails of feudal lords and sardars in Sindh and Baluchistan.
• Encouraged local governments. The military dictators had encouraged it but the democratic governments have always avoided this constitutional responsibility.
All the successive governments and their functionaries since inception of constitution in 1973 have continuously been abrogating the constitution with impunity. They have played havoc with the life, property, honor, dignity and respect of the citizens. They have kept the nation illiterate and prone to diseases. Instead of eliminating disparity of incomes they have created islands of prosperity through corrupt practices and nepotism. With ‘Thana’ and ‘Patwari’ culture and a corrupt electorate system, they have plunged the nation in worst kind of slavery, whereby the MNAs / MPs are no less than a demi gods for their people. Aren’t these rulers and political parties guilty of abrogating the constitution?
And finally Article 218 (3) of the Constitution reads:
‘It shall be the duty of the Election Commission constituted in relation to an election to organize and conduct the election and to make such arrangements as are necessary to ensure that the election is conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with law, and that corrupt practices are guarded against’.
Think over it. Have the elections been conducted in accordance with the spirit of constitution? Haven’t the corrupt, the tax evaders, the loan defaulters, the liars, the holders of fake degrees been given safe passage to contest elections and to make their way to assemblies? Haven’t the fake votes, the votes surplus to the registered vote been cast, the results on polling stations been withheld / delayed unjustly, the presiding officers been intimidated on gun point. Haven’t the polling stations in Karachi and elsewhere been made as ‘No Go Areas’ even for the media? All this happened right under the nose of the caretaker governments, the Election Commission, the Judiciary and the law enforcing agencies. So, aren’t these institutions guilty of flouting the Constitution?
Coming back to the crime of Pervez Musharaf, let us have a comparison. Pervez Musharaf abrogated the constitution to the extent of suspending some of its provisions related to the functionality of the parliament and the judiciary, that too for a limited period of time. These provisions had little to do with the daily routine of a citizen. A citizen is always obsessed with his safety and livelihood and is hardly concerned with suspension or functionality of few provisions of the constitution. On the other hand the successive governments in Pakistan flouted the constitution and made the life of a citizen miserable and unbearable. A common poor citizen has become so disgusted that he chooses to commit suicide and sell his siblings in the market, just to make his both ends meet. Ask any person on the street and he will tell you who all have committed more serious crimes in relation to the Constitution.
I am neither a fan of Pervez Musharaf nor a supporter of his policies. But all those who have violated and abrogated the Constitution should be brought to book and punished accordingly. Singling out one person from a crowd of criminals seems to be against the norms of dispensing justice.