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Monday, May 26, 2008

Cui Bono: Is This Constitutional Amendment a Ploy?

The media is speculating about a 62 point draft of a constitutional amendment that would ostensibly cleanse the 1973 constitution of the changes made by Pervez Musharraf.

"Pakistan's main ruling party has drafted a set of constitutional amendments that would erase the legacy of President Pervez Musharraf, its leader said Friday. Asif Ali Zardari provided few details, but said the reforms would reverse changes made to the constitution since Musharraf seized power in a 1999 military coup."

Constitution is the basic declaration of the voice of people in governing themselves, stated as laws and principles that outlines the functions and limits of state institutions. Since it affects all people, and for it to be effective, it has to have widest possible consensus of the people.

This attempt by Naik and Zardari to "reverse" the Musharraf changes is self defeating. It is like the NRO that has a cut off date that benefits the Bhuttos and Zardaris but does not go far back enough to affect other politicians.

For a history of Constitution of 1973 and amendments check this link. And this one too.

Constitutions are not divine and can be changed to reflect changing realities and times. No one is arguing against change. What is required is caution and deliberation. If it is rammed through, just because a party can muster the required 2/3rd majority, without deliberation and consultation then that change would be suspect. The heavens saved us from the one Sharif was ramming down our throats - or we would still be suffering under an Amir ul Momineen. Allah be praised!

There are some provisions leaked in this proposed amendments that are needed, but to proceed with the whole package in this callous manner, without due debate in parliament is venturing into uncertain territory.

Naik presented this amendment and briefed Zardari today, who will present it to the CEC of PPP later today or tomorrow. Sharif and other political parties are still in the dark. But the real debate over this should be a detailed and exhaustive one in the parliament. Only then this amendment would last.

Our politicians lead with a heavy hand, essentially undemocratic political parties, mostly inherited, and have shown little consensus building traits within their parties.

Naik has poured over the 1973 Constitution reportedly before drafting this, however:

Lawyer community not taken into confidence over constitutional package: Aitzaz ISLAMABAD, May 23 (APP): President of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan said Friday that the lawyer community was not taken into confidence over the proposed constitutional package.

The irony and reality is, in some of the interviews Naik has been giving lately, he has admitted candidly that PPP and its allies do not have the necessary 2/3rd majority in the combined houses.

So, is this amendment a ploy, or a smokescreen to deflect attention, score brownie points with friends and coalition partners, or to mislead them while consolidating power, playing to the galleries, or to the "master's whims" or setting up a plank for the next elections?

Cui Bono - who gains, who benefits? You tell us.

It is apparent who loses - the people - their issues - electricity, escalating commodity prices, law and order, petrol are not being addressed effectively. By not prioritizing the issues the newly elected parliamentarians are proving to be the no different than the ones chucked out by the public in February.

Will this weigh on the honourable judges' conscience? Will Iftikhar Chaudhry pay "condolence" visits to the poor who are faced to commit suicide like he did on Zardari?

No one is against institution building. The majority is for a independent judiciary, a deliberative parliament, a responsive executive and a watchful fourth estate to report on the check and balances between the former three.

The Legislature, the Executive, the Judiciary and the Media should never forget that their raison d'etre is to serve the people. The people's patience, while legendary, has never been tried like this in the past 60 years.


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