Constitution of Pakistan: Last Hope For The Criminals
A couple of months ago, I was having an online conversation about the supremacy of Constitution with a friend. She was insistent that suspending the constitution is worst of the crimes. On contrary, my view was that the constitution is not the word of God. There are many flaws in this few hundred bucks “book” which need to be addressed. It has always been manipulated to facilitate the politicians, feudal lords, mullahs, army generals, industrialists, lawyers etc. It has hardly recognized itself as doing any good to the poor. And it is so because the authority that can modify this constitution is the Parliament which mainly consists of the feudal minority of Pakistan. Our conversation came to an end as PEPCO performed the favorite part of their duty: UNANNOUNCED LOADSHEDDING. But months later, everyone is questioning the legitimacy of the Constitution.
On 18th May 2010, the news that made to the front pages of all the newspapers was about President Zardari using his discretionary presidential powers under Article 45 to grant remission to his dearest friend Rehman Malik, the Interior Minister.
Article 45 states that,
“The President shall have power to grant pardon, reprieve and respite, and to remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by any court, tribunal or authority.”
This whole action was carried out on the advice of Prime Minister. Mr Malik was sentenced by the anti corruption NAB court as he was convicted for taking illegal commission on a purchase of few cars and looting jewelery and cash during a raid on a certain house. This was allegedly done by Mr. Malik when he was acting chief of FIA in 1990s during BB’s first regime. This was challenged in the Lahore High Court but due to his absence during the proceedings, the judges maintained the verdict and had ordered three years sentence to him.
Rehman Malik himself says that he respects the judiciary and will soon challenge the LHC verdict in the Supreme Court. However, the appeal is still not filed. Looks like he is buying time so that the interior ministry manipulates the evidences against their boss and judges are also ‘agreed upon’ to keep a soft corner for the Interior Minister. During all this hustle and bustle, we saw another breaking news that a former FIA personnel Ahmed Riaz Sheikh also get showers of blessings as he too gets pardoned under Article 45.
The point is, this flawed article was exploited to its best by strongest ever democratically elected President to pardon his favorite persons. Had this been a poor, ordinary Pakistani, he would be in jail for the same charges. This is not the first time. Article 45 has always been exploited in the past to remit politicians and influential people. It was used by President Rafiq Tarar in 1999 to remit Nawaz Sharif in corruption charges, plane hijacking and helicopter tax evasion cases while President Ayub Khan used it to reverse the death sentence on Molana Modudi. There are many other cases where sentences have been repealed under Article 45.
This article is always included in the constitution in some form. It was first introduced in the Government of India Act 1935 as Article 295. Modifications of it were present in 1950 Constitution as Article 72, 1956 Constitution as Article 209 and Article 18 in the 1962 Constitution.
While it was to be used by the individuals holding the President Office, only under extreme conditions to pacify the country’s internal situation or under severe foreign pressure (like the Modudi case), it has been exploited constantly by our Presidents giving the impression that law and justice is not for the 96-98% majority. But unfortunately the so called Democratic system of this country has only provided us with a few leaders who are sincere in building this country.
It was quite shocking to see some idiotic statements made by top PPP officials. Few are as follows:
Fauzia Wahab said,
“Rehman Malik is backed by the President, the Prime Minister and Pakistan Peoples Party. Nothing can harm him.”
“President only used his discretionary powers to aid his friend”
And honorable Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani said,
“We pardoned him as it doesn’t leave a good impression if a country’s Interior Minister is imprisoned”
I don’t want to comment on the above statements, leaving this task for the readers. But more hilarious and to a great extent alarming was a news published in 20th May “Express News”. It was about hundreds of convicted prisoners from Hyderabad Central Jail requesting apologies from the President on just and humanitarian basis. The prisoners reminded that he is the President of Pakistan and not the President of Pakistan People’s Party and his friends. It will be really interesting if the convicted criminals challenge the Presidential office in the Supreme Court under Article 25 which is about the Equality of Citizens.
Whatever happened in the past few years, that is, from corruption acquisitions on CJ which he never ever addressed to his restoration, from SC decision on NRO to the use of Articles 45 and 248 by the contrary parties, from Nawaz’ being acquitted in the plane hijacking case to the actual facts behind it, from ban on social networking/other education websites to the alternatives that could be used, I am only getting strong in my view point that this Constitution has only been exploited by the politicians, judiciary and lawyers for their own benefits and hardly did any good for the common citizens of this country.
Pakistan needs a revolution, revolution that ends the feudal system, provides accountability on an equal basis, empower common educated people to perform the legislation and gift an honest judiciary without any blot on its past. Only this will lead to a true Democracy, a prosperous nation where books like The Constitution may be put to appropriate use.