Amendments in constitution for individuals – Déjà Vu?

The government of Pakistan has decided to amend Articles 62 & 63 of the Constitution and is now preparing to do it as soon as they can. The law minister Zahid Hamid made the announcement during a session of the National Assembly called to debate amendments to a proposed election law put forward by opposition parties. He said the government will take up the matter with the reforms committee. The proposed suggestion forwarded by Muttahida Qaumi Movement to set the maximum duration of disqualification to five years was rejected by the government. Now that there is no explicit duration of disqualification set under the law, the law minister said, “We want the duration of disqualification to be less than five years.” It is worth mentioning here that the Supreme Court ruled disqualification orders and sacked premier Nawaz Sharif in Panama case in the light of Article 62 (1) (f).

Now, this is not possible that the chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan would let it go without cursing it; it probably is the last thing he will do when it comes to PML-N and the House of Sharifs. Addressing the ‘Azadi Jalsa’ earlier this month at the historic Liaquat Bagh, the PTI chairman strongly criticised a conspiracy to repeal Article 62 and 63 from the constitution, which stipulates that a leader must be Sadiq and Ameen (honest and trustworthy). He further added, “Do you want to insert in the constitution that a leader once elected should be given the free will to plunder the state”. He also threatened the government of taking this to the street and protesting against this proposed bill, which he is infamous for according to his political rivals.

The reason I’m calling it ‘a déjà vu’ is not my own imagination but you all have seen something really happened in the past like this and I am sure everyone who follows Pakistani politics knows about this. It was not only an amendment made just to politically favour a single person who then went onto becoming Prime Minister for the third time – yeah, you guessed it right – and now he has been disqualified and this amendment of repealing 62(1)(f) is the exact same thing happening just to bail out the person who was sacked by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Isn’t this fascinating? Here’s a short introduction to what happened in April 2010 which is my déjà vu for the current amendments to the Articles 62 (1) (f):

The clause 5 of Article 91 of the Constitution was amended to: that there shall be no restriction on the number of terms for the office of the Prime Minister – which previously was restricted to only two terms. Refreshing your memory on this, Nawaz Sharif was not even a member of the assembly and his party was in the opposition. It is also worth mentioning that despite all this PML-N somehow managed to remove the restriction with the help of the Pakistan People Party’s government, but why they asked for it? Rings any bells? They were somehow confident that their party would get the majority and it might help Nawaz Sharif to become Prime Minister for the third time and this is how the amendments in constitution for individuals were made and no one did anything about it.

These changes for individuals are disgraceful and an attempt to give Nawaz Sharif and his family a legal cover. We can’t go below this. This all is happening amidst recent speech of POTUS Donald Trump declaring his new policy for South Asia and the government seems to be least worried about that, and most worried about the sacked PM and his family. In the name of democracy, no one can accept such policies which turn democracy into a plutocracy.

So if the ruling party is found wanting and not in compliance with the laws on the books, the government simply can amend the laws to make the otherwise banished, disqualified person with utter contempt for the laws, courts, and judges to become compliant by removing the articles which disqualified him in the first place.

Will any sane person support it? Is this sanity to repeal a law which keeps the members of parliament in check, just like the speeding ticket which prevents anyone from over-speeding? If repealed, I don’t know what will happen on highways and motorways.

Government’s decision to amend Article 62-63 will render it ineffective. Instead of strengthening, politicians are weakening and harming the state. Instead of accountability of corrupt politicians, they are being protected. This is NOT the mandate given by the people. All this amounts to treason. Now it’s just a matter of time when our legislators would want to reduce the number game – it all depends on the priorities of the single person, to whom the MPs have sworn fealty rather than the State. You can see any spokesperson from any political party bashing others on any television channel at prime time just because his allegiance is to his party leader, and not the state. And that’s the dilemma of our politics. Until our MPs seriously and wholeheartedly take on an oath of allegiance to the state, and not the party leader, things will remain the same.

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