Opinion

THE CONSTITUTION MAY HAVE WON BUT AT THE COST OF DEMOCRACY-Ali Azmat

The political landscape of Pakistan has never been so much dichotomous. A sharp division is being witnessed currently consisting only of two groups namely, pro-pti and anti – pti. This itself is a manifestation of clear victory of PTI over its foes. It also signals triumph of Mr Khan’s description of his political opponents, whom he has always accused of corruption and embezzlement, who would come together to save themselves from being held accountable.

All other parties, save PTI, have ceased to exist independently and are merely being identified by their anti-Imran nature. Imran has become a uniting factor for these parties, which otherwise fall on diametrically opposite ends of political spectrum. He has brought together the parties which generally pose themselves as an alternative and antithesis to each other. The alliances such as PPP + MQM, PPP + PMLN, and PPP + JUIF demonstrate the moral and ideological bankruptcy of these parties. But the most striking case is the coming together of PTM and the establishment. Who could have guessed that PTM, which owes it origin to its anti-establishment sentiments and narrative, would play into its hands.

Now let’s evaluate the legitimacy of the claim being put forward by some self proclaimed democrats that the ouster of PTI govt is a victory for Constitution. The claim certainly has some element of truth but is not error-free. The NCM is indubitably a democratic procedure to change a regime. However, the way it was carried out and the circumstances sorrounding it have raised serious questions on its legitimacy. The most prime concerns remain the unsettled questions of defection and floor-crossing. It is alleged that huge sums of money have been used to buy loyalties. The allegations are not hard to swallow keeping in view the the political history of the country which is characterised by the perversion and travesty of democratic ideals. However, the recent case is of much more grave nature and has raised questions on the efficacy of Constitution. Deep resentment exists in the masses regarding these malpractices and failure of the Constitution to abate them.

The events also strengthened the argument of the unsuitability of parliamentary democracy for Pakistan and has provided much needed munition to the advocates of presidential. It became evident that besides being unstable form of government, the parliamentary system is much more pliable to political engineering by undemocratic forces. Moreover, the moral bankruptcy of legislators was also laid bare. It has become apparent that parliamentary system attracts power-hungry individuals into legislature, who engage in power games and the sacred task of legislation is relegated to secondary importance.

Furthermore, the role of higher courts also remain controversial. Even though the courts, overall, played a constructive role and made a departure from the tradition of ‘doctrine of necessity’ it invited controversy by acting over enthusiastically. The most glaring part was when justices opened the court at midnight to obstruct prime minister from exercising its power to sack COAS. This event greatly dented the court’s prestige and is likely to go down as a dark hour in the judicial history of the country.

The establishment, as usual, remained the central actor throughout the show. It, once again, asserted its lack of respect for the country’s national interest and displayed its commitment to its narrow institutional interests. It successfully upholded its tradition of resorting to regime change and destabilisation of democractic government for its corporate interest and personal interests of those who are at helm of its affairs.

Morever, the roles of speaker and deputy speaker in delaying and underminimg the Constitutional process of NCM remain questionable and deplorable. They set a new precedent of setting aside parliamentary norms. The art of filibuster was on display in its full swing.

The destabilising role played by smaller parties will aslo be remembered as they personified the concept of tyranny of minority.

And what’s disappointing is that PTI is still reluctant to adopt principled stance with respect to role of military in politics. They are disowning their activists who protested against military on roads and social media. It shows that Imran is waiting for Bajwa to retire and will try to secure deal with upcoming COAS. He has no resolve to call in question extraconstitutional and corporate activities of military.

Moreover, another important political debate is also worth mentioning as it evaded the eye of mainstream media. Many people on social media websites questioned the sanctity of Constitution. This view is problematic as it makes the Constitution as an end in itself. It was argued that the Constitution was formulated by elite to maintain their hold on power. It has failed to protect the weak against the strong and to prevent the exploitation of masses by the riches. The case of Nazim Jokhio, a young journalist brutally murderd allegedly by local legislators is an example. Therefore, it has been asserted that the Constitution which has failed people is not worth the reverence and sanctity.

In a nutshell, the recent chapter is a significant addition to Constitutional and political history of the country. The weakness of parliamentary democracy, the unconstitutional role of military and little regard for principles in Pakistan’s politics are major takeaways from the crisis. People witnessed how convenient it is for an institution to oust their elected government and construct an artificial majority from a minority. The most positive thing to come out of this whole fiasco is raised political consciousness of masses and belated realisation that their armed forces are far from a holy institution. Rather, it in fact is a neo-colonial institution which continues to subjugate and exploit the nation for its economic benefit and its loyalties do not lie with the people

Ali Azmat is a civil engineer and blogger. He was graduated in civil engineering from UOL,Lahore.
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