Wed. Feb 8th, 2023

Another Constitutional Fallacy


By Aabid Hussain

Some phrases like constitutional rights, constitutional status, and provincial autonomy etc are some of the most clichéd phrases in today’s political and constitutional landscape of Pakistan. Recently, another wave of a constitutional erupted across Pakistan with reference to the merger of FATA with KPK and the promulgation of another Order, “The GB Order 2018”. The hasty actions by the outgoing government merit much attention. Some political experts, constitutionalists and lawmakers such as Raza Rabbani, the ex-Senate Chairman, smell an invisible hand behind this extra-efficiency and speedy legislation of the outgoing government. Besides, the state Pakistan is also inching towards disintegration and chaos. FATA merger is now about to complete after a little resistance by some politico-religious factions. The constitutional riddle of GB is yet to be solved. The opposition benches in collaboration with civil society and student unions have utterly rejected the GB Order 2018 deeming it to be a draconian and a black law. Obviously, it is draconian law and it rapes the region constitutionally. It seems to be a colonial law to rule the colonized. Let alone ensuring the constitutional rights of the people of GB, it usurps the already given meager rights of the people. By erasing the word “legislative” from the name of GB Legislative Assembly, it deprives the local assembly from any kind of legislation protecting and promoting the national interest and fundamental rights of the people.

As the name suggests, it is an order not a constitution. An order is given by a master to his slaves to tighten his shackles and a constitution is given by a legislative authority to its public to ensure their rights and liberties. This draconian order empowers the Pakistani prime minister to personally legislate for this unconstitutional piece of land. Sorrowfully, the prime minister for whose election the people of GB are not entitled to vote, is their ruler and master, a viceroy, whatever one calls. It is totally against the spirit of this century. It’s the age of political empowerment and freedom of expression; it is not the stone ages where people were deprived of their fundamental right to live a free and peaceful life. Unfortunately, the last week, the incumbent government used force very brutally to curb the freedom of association and assembly of the people who were on strike against this black law. Though, this document is full of constitutional anomalies and loopholes, some clauses have been deliberately inserted in it to change the region demographically as well as politically. It has validated the influx of people from other parts of Pakistan which can badly bring demographic changes to the region. The local people fear that it will create a pre-2005 situation where the outsiders and non-indigenous people worked hand in glove with the hidden forces to destabilize the whole region unleashing sectarian violence. Secondly, we also fear that to ensure the security of CPEC, the most parroted acronym in Pakistan, the already strongly entrenched security establishment will convert GB into a security state to create another FATA of it.

The recent clashes with the forces reveal a very unfortunate chapter in the history of GB. The use of state machinery against peaceful protestors does not augur well for both the region and the national and strategic interest of Pakistan. A Pakistan already facing different resistance movements within in its frontiers cannot bear another resistance movement in the most peaceful part of the country. Apart from the politically handicapped ex PM of Pakistan, Sindh, KPK, Balochistan and even Punjab are at loggerheads with the federation and its strong institutions. From the issue of missing person to the issue of provincial autonomy, every issues is turning into a crisis with alarming threats and challenges to the state of Pakistan. In order to curb this wave of resistance, the state is stuck to its out dated aggressive policy which aggravates the situation. God forbade, if these agitating masses give up their legal demands of provincial autonomy and insurance of their fundamental rights, separatism will raise its head. Voices for complete freedom will be supported by the hostile neighbors on the western and the eastern frontiers of the country as the hostile government of Modi has already summoned Pakistan’s Deputy High Commissioner in India in protest against the GB Order 2018. The opposition in GB Assembly has rejected this obnoxious move of the Indian government and held the local government responsible for inducing India to launch a fallacious propaganda against Pakistan.

In such a precarious and sensitive scenario, it is direly needed the local government should present the true demands of the people in front of the federal government. And it is imperatively needed the federal government should take the local masses in confidence and make sure their presence before hammering out any constitutional policy to avoid any backlash.  This newly authored order empowers the federal as well as local government to designate any person a criminal and his arrest is at their disposal without any solid proof. The people are already facing such situation under the black law of ATR. Many a political figures and civil society activists are behind bars on false allegations to victimize them politically. In this regard, Baba Jan’s name is on the top of the list. The incumbent government should release the political prisoners including Baba Jan of the AWP and other civil rights activist to ensure peace and harmony in the region. Recently, according to the US State Department, there are 5 people missing in the region which is an eye opener for the whole region. The government should investigate these cases and conduct their trials in courts rather than adopting poor and harsh tactics as practised in other parts of the country. Only the insurance of civil liberties and basic rights of people through a proper constitution but not through any order will guarantee peace and smooth progress of CPEC in the region. Otherwise, everything looms into a limbo.

The contributor is an M.Phil scholar at GCU, Lahore. abid.kiu@gmail.com

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