18th constitutional amendment set to be Pakistan's game-changer

Discussion in 'Pakistan' started by RPK, Mar 25, 2010.

  1. RPK

    RPK Indyakudimahan Senior Member

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    http://news.rediff.com/report/2010/...mendment-set-to-be-pakistans-game-changer.htm

    Pakistan is currently at the turning point of history, believes Hamid Mir, the political editor of Geo Television.

    "Within the next two days, Pakistan parliament at a joint session will take up the 18th amendment of its constitution, which will change some 80 articles. This amendment is set to curtail the president's powers," Mir told rediff.com.

    Mir is currently on a visit to New Delhi [ Images ], where he will be honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Foundation of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation of Writers and Literature.

    Mir says, "The new amendment will make parliament more powerful than it ever was. The amendment is so wide-ranging that Pakistan is going to acquire, almost, a new constitution."

    The Pakistan People's party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Awami National party and other political parties are supporting the amendment.

    Not surprisingly, Pakistan's military establishment is not happy with the amendment. Some politicians fear that at the last minute, the situation can change and that may break the consensus in Pakistan's polity. But Mir says, "We are hopeful that Pakistan will get a true platform for democracy after this amendment."

    According to Mir, if this amendment is passed, Pakistan will never be the same again.

    Once the amendment is passed, the North West Frontier Province will be renamed Pukhtunkhwa and Baluchistan will get greater autonomy.

    On the contentious issue of the appointment of judges to the apex court too, many radical changes are being introduced.

    Under this constitutional amendment, to appoint judges to Pakistan's apex court, the chief justice and two of his colleagues will shortlist the names of judges, which will then be sent to the parliamentary judicial commission comprising eight members, four from the ruling coalition and four from the opposition parties. At least six members will have to approve the selection of judges. The prime minister will be guided by the advice of the parliamentary judicial commission.

    Representatives from the various political parties held over 70 meetings, most of which lasted for 6-7 hours, to finalise the sweeping change in Pakistan's constitution.

    Mir says, "The new amendment weakens the army because it will snatch away the powers of the army chief. There is resistance from the military (against the amendment)."

    "In effect, it will also weaken America's space for maneuverability within Pakistan's establishment," argues Mir.

    The 18th amendment is the culmination of various pro-democracy initiatives like the Charter of Democracy signed by PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif [ Images ] and late PPP chief Banezir Bhutto in London [ Images ] in 2006 and the movement launched by Pakistani lawyers demanding more transparency in the country's judiciary.

    "This is PPP chairman and Pakistan President Asif Zardari's democratic revenge on the military establishment. All of us in Pakistan have understood that our survival lies in democracy," observes Mir.

    In a lighter vein, Mir added, "Zardari wants to become the Sonia Gandhi [ Images ] of Pakistan."When asked whether the army will resist the passing of the 18th amendment and stage a coup, as then army chief Pervez Musharraf [ Images ] did in 1998 to oust the Nawaz Sharif-led civilian government, Mir said, "All of us have decided to not resist peacefully if any coup takes place."
     
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  3. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    So Pakistan is trying to move towards full parliamentary form of governance from the phony presidential form.But everybody know neither president nor PM or parliament have powers worth being called to be democracy.Power still lies in the corridors of Rawalpindi GHQ.

     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2010
  4. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    In Military Inc by Ayesha Siddiqui mentions how much the military is involved in Pakistan! She mentions a parent guardian relationship that the army has now come into in Pakistan.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2010
  5. S.A.T.A

    S.A.T.A Senior Member Senior Member

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    Reminds me of a standing joke about Pakistan's perennial constitutional woes....

    "An elderly Pakistani is visiting UK and happens hear about book store which reputedly has hard bound copies of constitutions of all the countries from all over the world.The Pakistani decides to visit the shop and purchase a copy of the Pakistan constitution for himself.On entering the book shop he is welcomed by the kindly store manager and asks what he can do for him
    Pakistani:"I need a copy of the Pakistan constitution
    Store manager:(gives a thought) Sir, we don't keep Periodicals
     
    thakur_ritesh likes this.
  6. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    18th constitutional amendment are parts of the 'Charter of Democracy (CoD)' that Ms. Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif agreed upon before they decided to jointly oppose Gen. Musharraf in c. 2007. Pres. Zardari is now being forced by circumstances to implement what was agreed upon three years back, after successfully procrastinating on these since c. 2008.

    while it might fulfill the demands in CoD, it also weakens an already weak Zardari. Moreover, gilani doesnt either have the guts to stand up to the military or is in cohorts with them or both. So any empowerment of gilani over zardari is going to be favorable to the Pak army!

    Besides, the power to appoint the COAS, appoint judges and dismiss provincial assemblies were usurped from the Prime Minister by Gen. Musharraf through the Legal Framework Order (LFO) of August 24, 2002.

    These have now gone back to the rightful claimant as per the 1973 Constitution.

    In any case, the appointment of COAS has never been completely under the control of the PM, Defence Minister and Secretary, MoD alone. The incumbent COAS almost always had a big input. Kayani has been very particular that senior Army appointments are his and only his prerogative as recently proved by the extensions he gave to ISI Chief and various other Lt. Generals. The PM was merely informed. The Defence Minister did not even have that privilege of being informed.

    Unlike India, where the Secretary MoD, a civilian appointee, who has enormous sway over the Chiefs of Armed Forces, in Pakistan, that position is always held by a Retd Armed Forces Officer (mainly Army) whose sole job is to ensure that nothing happens behind the Army Chief's back in the corridors of political power.

    While some power is being taken away from kayani as well, in the current scenario it doesnt mater much , as long as the power is with gilani, who can be controlled through punjabi cabal, army doesnt loose much by the transfer to gilani.

    In any case the next coup will suspend the constitution, so all these changes are merely measures to improve army's standing in public, that it was magnanimous to allow such concessions!
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2010
  7. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Najam sethi reveals the pak army power play going behind the 18th amendment with army having full control of foreign policy and now moving in to control economic/internal policies too ie army is Ruling from behind.

    Part 6:



    Part 7:



    Part 8:

     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 10, 2015
  8. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Joint session of Pak Parliament canceled

     
  9. nandu

    nandu Senior Member Senior Member

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    ‘Early presentation of Constitutional Package sparked tension’

    LAHORE: Quaid Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) Mian Mohammed Nawaz Sharif has said the news regarding early presentation of constitutional package in National Assembly triggered panic and tension.

    He said the 17th amendment should be repealed first of all while consensus upon selection of a new name of NWFP province will soon be reached.

    In an interview, he said he pays respect to ANP and Pakhtoon people. He linked dispense of provinces’ autonomy through consent of all provinces.

    My party and I believe in provincial autonomy, he said. “Democracy is the solution to all plights”, he added.

    http://www.geo.tv
     
  10. xebex

    xebex Regular Member

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    Exterminating an Emo means one low-life less!
    what civilian government need to do is to cut down the power of PA first; that can make much difference than cutting down the power of the President.
     
  11. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Whats with the involvement of the UK in 18th constitutional amendment of the pakistan constitution.And as per any country is concerned constitutional reforms are domestic polity how come international players are meddleing in it???The interference in internal political dynamic is complete. The US forced Musharraf to talk to Benazir. KSA was a guarantor for the exile of Nawaz and it also forced him to return to Pakistan. When he was refused entry to Pakistan on the tarmac of Lahore airport, the KSA ambassador was involved in negotiations. Later it sent emissaries who asked him to behave in 2007. Really a banana country, this Pakistan. One more reason why it should be divested of nuclear weapons.Now david milliband is interfering in constitutional amendment.


    Nawaz, Miliband discussed 18th Amend: PML-N

     
  12. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Iftikhar sees reforms issue resolution by Wednesday

    NOSHEHRA: The NWFP’s Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said the issue relating the Constitutional reforms would be resolved by Wednesday and all conflicts including the name of the province would be settled, Geo News reported Sunday.

    Addressing a ceremony in Noshehra area of Daag Ismailkhel, he said he avoids commenting on the issue of Constitutional reforms.

    Mian Iftikhar said, ‘I request Mian Nawaz Sharif and Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain to rise up for parliamentary democracy and the supremacy of the Parliament, so that the present deadlock could be dissolved.’

    The NWFP’s Information Minister vowed to fight anti-terror war till the last of their lives, adding the terrorists’ havens at significant mountainous areas, have been destroyed during the operation.
     
  13. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Constitutional Game To Undo Pakistan From The Backdoor

    LONDON, UK—Pakistan is unfortunately one of those countries where traitors masquerade as politicians and treachery is deemed to be ‘legitimate politics’. There is no prize for guessing how did the desire the revoke the 17th Amendment got transformed into a full-fledged exercise for subverting the constitution. The answer is that it was a part of the scheme that involved the NRO and the formation of a coalition government in which all the parties are opposed to the Two Nation Theory of Pakistan. Mian Nawaz Sharif saw the game plan a bit late but he did see it and withdrew from the coalition. If he had not withdrawn, the judges dismissed by Musharraf would not have been restored and NRO would have become law. But the puppet masters have not given up; they are still eager to implement their original plan albeit with slight alterations due to new circumstances.

    The plan is devious and not easy to understand. Some of those in the committee reviewing the Constitution have some idea of the true nature of the exercise they are engaged in but most of them do not know what is going on; they do not have a clue what is good for the country and are unable to see through the machinations of parties with anti-Pakistan agenda. The reports of ‘consensus’ and ‘absence of leaks’ makes one suspicious of the entire project. I fear that a ready to sign ‘draft amendment’ is a sinister plot. The public and the press must have a debate on what the committee recommends. The Constitution is too important a matter to be left entirely to politicians.

    It seems to me that all the ingredients are being in place to undo Pakistan from the back door without even a fight. It seems the parties in the ruling coalition are in a hurry to fulfill the agenda of international plotters. The puppet masters had been relying on the gullibility of Nawaz Sharif who has been saying he would support no action that would destabilize the country.


    The Constitutional Reforms Committee (CRC) which has decided to present the 18th Constitutional Amendment before the two houses of the Parliament, rejecting the reservations of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and some of its recommendations. He may have reacted a bit late but it is important that he has smelt a rat. After the priorities of the Zardari regime which came into power on the basis of a controversial ‘will’ of late Benazir Bhutto are dubious to say the least.

    Owing to the deliberations and recommendations having remained shrouded in secrecy, people might not know why Nawaz Sharif, former Prime Minster and PML-N chief, objected to these constitutional amendments in a press conference only an hour before a signing ceremony?

    The reality is that these amendments have many dimensions and multiple usages. Obviously the plotters are not stupid and are backed by an efficient machine. For example, those who drafted the Kerry Lugar Bill had Pakistani insiders to advise how to cloak their sinister ‘agenda’ behind nice words like support for democracy, promotion of tolerance and accelerating the pace of ‘development’. The problem is that Zardari regime has too many ‘insiders’ promoting foreign agenda who are hurting the people and damaging the state. The MQM draft for constitutional amendments visualized “Provincial Autonomy” which gave the federation just two and half subjects – Defence, Foreign Affairs and Currency – Sine qua non for a Federation. The Draft Bill for Constitutional Amendments tabled by the MQM on 12th January 2009 MQM was not without foreign advice and support. I must admire President Asif Zardari, MQM leaders - Farooq Sattar and Altaf Hussain – and the teams of minders they have, for being so ‘creative’ for their masters.

    International financiers and plotters use constitutional loopholes to disintegrate countries to take control of natural resources. These plotters, their bankers and local agents are adept at creating food and other shortages, unemployment, insecurity, lawlessness, corruption, poverty and constitutional hiatus that make it necessary to invite foreign experts and international financial institutions for advice and help. The whole idea is to pass the control over national institutions, assets and resources to these plotters. For example two ‘insiders’ who are cronies of President Zardari – Wajid Shamsulhasasn High Commissioner to United Kingdom and Hussain Haqqani Ambassador to the United States – are allegedly involved in activities against the national interests of Pakistan . Wajid Shamsulhassan violated the decorum of his rank and the Service Rules of Pakistan when he went to collect documents pertaining to the trial in Switzerland and bring official documents to London and keep in his personal custody. Hussain Haqqani allegedly issued visas to the Blackwater personnel and was instrumental in adding conditions harmful and denigrating to the Armed Forces of Pakistan in the Kerry Lugar Bill. That the President as well those who serve him – whether cronies or not – are also subject to law, has been blatantly ignored. President Zardari and the team of his cronies continuously undermine the state; they get their orders obeyed because they have learnt ‘how to bypass the system’ to complete international agenda.

    One cannot help admire the plotters for their selections of agents and deploying them in fulfillment of their multi layered conspiracy which is hard to detect and even harder to frustrate or neutralise. The game is not new but it is being played differently making it hard to tackle.

    It seems that minders of Zardari, MQM and ANP have the Soviet Model of disintegration in mind. In modern times international plotters exploit legal and constitutional loopholes or arrange for such constitutional amendments that lead inevitably to the disintegration of the country. For example in dismantling the USSR the international plotters used constitutional provisions which had been placed intentionally. They were provisions in the Constitution of the USSR – put in during the heady days after the Russian Revolution of 1918, that made dismantling of the Union not just possible but easy. Article 70 of the Soviet Constitution Stated: “Union of the Soviet Republics is a unitary, federal, multinational state, formed on Free Self Determination of Nations”. Article 72 was more explicit and stated: “Each Union Republic retains the right freely to secede from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics”.

    Interestingly no such provision or mechanism is available in the US Constitution. According to US experts “the constitutional language is ‘sparse’. It is up to the Congress to give meaning to that language”. We all know who control and gets the majority in the Congress?

    “It was 1974 constitution of former Yugoslavia which caused the break of the state”, said Antonio Moneo Lain a visiting fellow at LSE in his lecture at London School of Economics on 2nd December 2009. I asked him that although, “USA is also a union of States but no such facility like choice of becoming independent is available to the states as the issue of state autonomy is kept vague”.
     
  14. Solid Beast

    Solid Beast New Member

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    The U-turn from 18th to 8th Amendment
    Monday, March 29, 2010
    By By Tahir Hasan Khan
    Karachi

    Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) chief Mian Nawaz Sharif is very famous in Sindh for taking U-turns in politics. It is a prevalent perception among Sindh’s leaders that Nawaz Sharif changes his policy, mood and promises based on little other than personal interest.

    This is the main reason why the PML-N does not exist in Sindh — even though the party was in power in the province from 1997 to 1999. Sindh is considered as the stronghold of Pakistan People’s Party but Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N made massive headway into the PPP stronghold when most of the famous leaders joined Nawaz Sharif. But after Nawaz Sharif took a U-turn in 2000 when he fled the country just to save his life, and left the aged party leader Ghous Ali Shah in prison, most of the party leaders left the PML-N and joined the newly-formed Q-league.

    Despite many efforts by Nawaz Sharif and his party leaders none of Sindh’s leaders could be convinced to come back in the PML-N fold. A grand meeting was held last month at the residence of ex-Ghotki Nazim and ex-chief minister of previous government Ali Muhammad Mehar and Ali Gohar Mehar, when most of the former party leaders were invited at a luncheon with Nawaz Sharif. It was claimed that the Sindh leaders who had left the party would be rejoining the N-league. However, not even the host of the party announced joining the PML-N since most of them know as to how Nawaz Sharif takes U-turn just for personal benefit.

    Although Mian Nawaz Sharif claims that he did not receive any phone call for taking U-turn, nobody is ready to accept this. Only a few of loyalists in the party have been defending Mian Sahab in media.

    Twice elected as prime minister, Nawaz Sharif is under criticism in and outside the parliament and in media, and even common man has been blaming him for sabotaging the constitutional amendment process. Rumours are circulating that the PML-N leader has changed his mood and now he wishes to become President of Pakistan as like Asif Ali Zardari with absolute powers both in the government and the party, with his brother Shahbaz Sharif as prime minister. During his second tenure as prime minister he had moved to become Ameerul Momineen having absolute powers, while he used to be the strongest supporter of the military dictator Gen Ziaul Haq who had captured all the powers from prime minister and parliament through Eighth Amendment.

    Though Gen Ayub Khan, Gen Ziaul Haq and Gen Pervez Musharraf exercised absolute powers, they could not deliver to the country neither the political situation was stabilized and ultimately they drifted the country to present morass. Even the civilian president Farooq Leghari, who belonged to the PPP, used powers against his party government and the same was done by Ghulam Ishaque Khan who dismissed the government of Nawaz Sharif despite being pro-Muslim League.

    Nawaz Sharif started his political carrier under the shadow of Eighth Amendment that demolished the parliamentary system.

    The proposed 18th constitutional amendment was meant to put the country on the right track and reviving the parliamentary form of government. However, the opposition by PML-N chief on non-issues was a clear indication that Mian Nawaz Sharif has conveyed to the establishment that he is still their loyal.

    Political observers firmly believe that the establishment did not want to revive the parliamentary democratic system in the country and strengthening the federation. Definitely, the establishment is the beneficiary of Nawaz Sharif’s action of blocking the revival of parliamentary democracy in the country.

    The establishment also did not want granting provincial autonomy and withdrawing concurrent list, while majority of the political parties are very much willing to remove the concurrent list, give the powers to provinces over their natural resources and impose ban on retired military and civil bureaucrats from contesting elections. Certainly, all these and some more issues tackled in the proposed 18th amendment go against the nature of the establishment and their supporters.

    Observers give the credit of this achievement to President Asif Ali Zardari who agreed to surrender all his powers that he has been enjoying since the party came to power. Serious charges were levelled against the government, and the rulers were even described as a security risk for the country. Such charges were enough to charge-sheet and dismiss the rulers. However, the system was not derailed and still functioning.

    Provincial autonomy will certainly suffer if the proposed amendments package was sabotaged and those responsible for the murder of Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti could not be punished, although it has been a major demand of Nawaz Sharif.

    Troika is busy in strategic talks with the US government and there are reports that these talks have been successful due to complete understanding between the civil democratic government and the army on the national issues.

    However, the situation in the country is totally different and there is an impression in the world that Pakistan is not politically stable. This situation can damage the efforts of the civil government and Army chief Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani who proved to the world that there exist no differences between the government and the army and that the country is being run smoothly.

    [email protected]
     
  15. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Pakistan's Proposed Constitutional Amendment: An Exercise in Futility


    JURIST Contributing Editor Ali Khan of Washburn University School of Law says that the proposed 18th Amendment to Pakistan's constitution limiting presidential power and punishing judges who might support military coups and constitutional subversions may offer some short-term benefit, but it will not solve Pakistan's constitutional woes....

    The Pakistan People's Party (PPP) will soon propose to Pakistan's Parliament an amendment to the 1973 Constitution. The proposed 18th Amendment would reportedly abolish Article 58 (2)(b) of the Constitution, which empowers the President, in his sole discretion, to dissolve the National Assembly. The amendment would also strengthen Article 6 of the Constitution to punish judges who would in future support military coups and constitutional subversions.

    This essay argues that the proposed 18th Amendment is an exercise in futility. Unfortunately, no constitutional amendment will prevent future military adventurism unless the political and military leadership is committed to honor the Constitution. As discussed below, however, the culture of the ruling elites has no respect for the rule of law.

    Historical See-sawing of Article 58(2)(b)

    The proposal of abolishing Article 58(2)(b) is neither new, nor effective. The Article has been abolished once before, only to be reinstated in the Constitution. Furthermore, military coups respect no provision of the Constitution. In fact, the disrespect for the Constitution runs deep among ruling elites. Even the judiciary and the National Parliament are quick to reform the Constitution for short-term interests.

    Historically, Article 58(2)(b) is the invention of a military general. Exercising the non-existent powers of the Army Chief, General Zia ul Haq, who toppled a democratically elected government in 1977, ordered the addition of Article 58(2)(b) to the Constitution. In 1985, a pro-military Parliament, using the constitutional procedure of two-thirds majority, ratified Zia's Article 58(2)(b) as a constitutional amendment, called the 8th Amendment.

    Note, however, that the highly discretionary power built into Article 58(b)(2) is vested in a duly elected President. It is not vested in the Army Chief. Abolishing Article 58(2)(b) disables the President - not the Army Chief - from deposing an elected government.

    In 1996, a civilian President invoked Article 58(2)(b), dissolved the National Assembly, and dismissed Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's democratically elected government. The President justified dissolution on several grounds, including the Bhutto government’s corruption, incompetence, and disrespect for the Supreme Court. In his book, constitutional attorney Hamid Khan accuses Nawaz Sharif, the then opposition leader, for encouraging the President to dissolve the National Assembly and hold new elections.

    Nawaz Sharif benefited from the Article 58(2)(b) dissolution of the Bhutto government. In the 1997 general elections, Sharif won a two-thirds majority in the Parliament. Soon after assuming the office of the Prime Minister, Sharif turned on the President, and hurriedly processed a constitutional amendment to abolish Article 58(2)(b). The sole purpose of abolition was to weaken the office of the President and bestow all powers on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

    The abolition of 58(2)(b), however, did not safeguard parliamentary democracy. Nor did it restore any respect for political governments. In a short time, the Sharif government lost its popularity. The nation did not know what to do with the autocratic Sharif family, which showed little respect for the rule of law. The Sharif government even sent ruffians to assault the Supreme Court. The civilian President was unable to dissolve the National Assembly, since Article 58(2)(b) had been abolished.

    Hotheaded political forces and restive media were openly inviting the armed forces to remove the Sharif government. Hearing the clarion call, Army Chief Pervez Musharraf overthrew the Sharif government. This deposition had nothing to do with Article 58(2)(b). Nor could the crime of high treason embodied in Article 6 deter the Army Chief from subverting the Constitution. Following the habit of subservience, the Supreme Court upheld the coup and took a new oath to obey the laws of the Army Chief.

    Exercising the non-existent powers of the Army Chief, Musharraf issued an order to reintroduce Article 58(2)(b) back into the Constitution. In 2003, a pro-military Parliament elected by the people passed the 17th Amendment to rehabilitate Article 58(2)(b).

    Now, the proposed 18th Amendment aims at abolishing Article 58(2)(b) again. This time, the proposal stems from the fear that “President” Musharraf will dissolve the National Assembly if the judges are reinstated without his consent or in the presence of Article 58(2)(b). The proposed amendment may offer some short term benefit. However, it will not solve Pakistan’s constitutional woes.

    The Underlying Problem

    Article 58(2)(b) is not Pakistan’s underlying problem. The problem lies deep in the Pakistani culture of power. Granted, most political and military rulers are patriotic men and women who want to do good for the nation. However, the power culture sees the rule of law as an inefficient barrier to make and execute policies. The rule of law has always been the slogan of the opposition and rarely that of the government.

    Right now, for example, the power has gravitated toward Asif Zardari, the PPP Chief, who is not even an elected member of the Parliament. Exercising dynastic powers that he inherited from his wife Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated before the general elections, Zardari is calling the shots from the Zardari House. The Prime Minister, supposedly the head of the government, is serving as a loyalist subordinate. The Law Minister, responsible for the drafting of the 18th amendment, is not even an elected member of the National Assembly. Most important, the National Assembly, where Zardari and Sharif’s parties have a solid majority, is waiting for party bosses to issue orders, from outside the Parliament, on what needs to be done in the Parliament.

    This subservience to party bosses explains why in the past the Parliament has mindlessly ratified both the constitutional inclusion and exclusion of Article 58(2)(b). Rarely do members of the Parliament think independently. And those who think rebel against the party and form another group. Each course of action is contrary to the democratic process.

    In a respectable parliamentary democracy, party discipline is a cherished value. However, each elected member of the Parliament represents the constituency and the nation, in addition to towing the party line. Likewise, party bosses are democratic both within the party and the Parliament. They do not establish personal fiefdoms to rule their “tribes” in the party or the Parliament and demand mindless subservience.

    Between mindless subservience and open rebellion lies the precious space for democracy where ideas are openly exchanged with respect and dignity and where the rule of law is not traded for narrow interests. To preempt future constitutional disruptions, Pakistan needs to develop this precious space.


    Ali Khan is professor of law at Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas, and the author of the book, A Theory of Universal Democracy (2003). Many of his publications are available here.
     
  16. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    The sky is not falling, it's just democracy



    Wednesday, March 31, 2010
    Ameer Bhutto

    Panic has struck once again as consensus has broken down among the major political parties in parliament over the proposed 18th Amendment. Serious objections have been raised to the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reform (PCCR). Accusations and counter-accusations are flying back and forth between politicians while the media surreptitiously fans the flames of controversy. Everyone should just calm down. There is no need to raise alarm or run for the hills. The sky is not falling. This is democracy in action, which is what we wanted.

    We clamour for democracy but lack the stomach to put up with the noise and commotion that defines it. Democracy is not some fairy tale but comes laden with a whole lot of sound and fury. Some of us mistakenly identify democracy with consensus, or 'mufahimat', and are even willing to put up with crooks and charlatans for its continuation. But that is not democracy. To the contrary, a genuine, effective and durable democratic system is rooted in ideological conflict so that all views are represented. The curse of 'mufahimat' is the very antithesis of democracy because it seeks to build a phony consensus for the sake of expediency and convenience of the ruling party, whose interests lie in eliminating any effective opposition so that no one may rock its boat. Such an engineered consensus cannot claim to represent the society because a society is composed of a wide mosaic of views, a vast majority of which remain unrepresented under 'mufahimat'.

    If consensus can be achieved on some issues, then that is great. But we should not expect or demand consensus on every issue. That is impossible. If there was consensus on all issues then what difference would there be between the treasury and the opposition? There would be no need for an opposition. In fact, there would be no need for the plethora of political parties we now have. We could make do with a one-party system like the old USSR. But that would not be democracy. Democracy cannot function without a vibrant and forceful opposition representing dissenting views. Different political parties contested elections on different platforms and manifestoes which they must adhere to. Submitting to an expedient consensus would amount to a betrayal of their mandate and a serious fraud with the people. Of course, many have not allowed such ethical considerations to deter them in their rush to enjoy a slice of the power pie in the name of 'mufahimat'.

    How often do the Labor and Conservative parties of the United Kingdom reach consensus on any issue? How often do the Democrat and Republican parties of the United States of America find themselves on the same side of the fence? The fact is that in democracy, for better or for worse, disagreement is the norm whereas consensus is the occasional welcomed exception. This is routine practice in the established democracies of Europe and America which the rest of the world seeks to emulate. Also, the nature of democracy is such that it easily lends itself to a variety of charades. As a student in America in the 1980s, I watched Congressional proceedings on television with amusement as the opposition often exercised its democratic right of filibuster, with opposition members, one after the other, taking it upon themselves to read out, on the floor of the House and Senate, material as irrelevant to the issue at hand as the Complete Works of William Shakespeare and Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace from beginning to end to stall and hinder debate and passage of a bill until their views were given due consideration and incorporated into the bill. Nobody accuses them of throwing a spanner in the works or letting down the nation.

    It is also not uncommon, particularly in parliaments where the treasury enjoys a narrow majority and requires the cooperation of the opposition to pass legislation, for the opposition to incorporate their agenda into treasury bills that are totally irrelevant to the bill itself. For instance, if the treasury moves a finance bill, the opposition might negotiate to lend the treasury its support in passing the bill if it agrees to make certain unrelated education or healthcare reforms part and parcel of the bill. That is how the wheels are greased and objectives obtained in democratic systems. If democracy is what we really want, then we have to put up with all the fun and games that are part of the system rather than expect everyone to obediently tow the official line.

    Of course, once in a while, there comes up an issue of critical national importance that transcends party politics on which a wide consensus naturally emerges. The PML-N is being chastised for withdrawing their support for the 18th Amendment as recommended by the PCCR, but how conveniently it is overlooked that they have already acceded to the most vital of the PCCR recommendations, i.e. the repeal of Musharraf's draconian 17th Amendment and Article 58-(2)(B). There is no debate on that. But the new proposed formula for judicial appointments is controversial at best. Why should the PML-N accept that? If objections exist to some of the recommendations of the PCCR then why should they be swept under the rug to present a fake veneer of consensus? Viewed in the light of the government's confrontation with the judiciary on this issue, the objections raised by the PML-N in this regard are quite sound.

    If there is anything the PML-N deserves to be castigated for, it is their initial endorsement of the PCCR proposal on this issue, not their demand to review it. Politically motivated appointments in the judiciary by the government have seriously diminished judicial independence and the courts' ability to uphold the law. The less say the government has in the appointment of judges the better. A number of recent rulings of the Supreme Court have already chalked out a fair and workable procedure for judicial appointments that really does not require further tampering. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Any attempt to do so will be viewed as a government ploy to have its way in the matter, which is what it tried to achieve recently before being forced into a humiliating retreat.

    By and large, the 18th Amendment package prepared by the PCCR is a good body of work. Musharraf's laws must be repealed forthwith. On this, unwavering consensus exists. There is no need to scrap the whole package just because a difference of opinion has reared its head on a few points. If further discussion and debate is needed on the formula for the judicial appointments and renaming the NWFP, then there should be no loss of face in returning to the negotiating table. But to make consensus on these issues a prerequisite for the repeal of the 17th Amendment and Article 58-(2)(B) is totally unnecessary and absurd. The government must present those recommendations of the PCCR on which consensus exists in the form of the 18th Amendment while continuing work on the remaining recommendations.

    Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto spoilt the nation by getting the 1973 Constitution passed through parliament unanimously. Maybe that is why we now expect everything to be done by consensus. But that was the outcome of the genius as well as strong and sincere leadership of a giant among men. Expecting the insignificant self-styled politicians who now happen to occupy his seat because of a tragic kink of history, and who have their own personal agendas, to perform the same miracles is a joke.



    The writer is vice-chairman of Sindh National Front and a former MPA from Ratodero. He has degrees from the University of Buckingham and Cambridge University.
     
  17. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    VIEW: Views on the constitutional review —Peter Jacob

    The review process has to foresee and incorporate a framework for social, legal and economic reforms. The part that seems to be missing as yet is, in fact, of immense importance for common Pakistanis. It concerns human rights

    Ever since the passage of
    the Eighth Amendment in 1985, the constitution ceased to enjoy the status of a consensus document. Besides the legal experts, everyone who had the opportunity to read the constitution of Pakistan, or followed the discussions, agreed that this national document was in need of an overhauling. The government set up a committee in June 2009, composed of 27 cross-party parliamentarians, to review the constitution. The primary agenda before the Parliamentary Constitutional Reforms Committee (PCRC) was to remove undemocratic provisions, distortions and contradictions in the constitution to suit universal human rights and parliamentary democracy.

    However, the statements reported in the media were largely about governance matters, i.e. sharing of powers between institutions and offices. Each political party in the reforms committee has been pressing for issues close to its heart. The ANP took a stand about naming NWFP as Pakhtunkhwa, the PML-N for removing 58(2)(b) and reintroducing a third term for the prime minister’s office. The others have focused on provincial autonomy. Senator Dr Abdul Malik, the representative of the National Party, said that over a hundred communications received by the reforms committee from different civil society organisations are to be compiled and shall be made public. This would be a good step, but did the committee adopt a course to accommodate those recommendations? However, there are points to be considered in procedure as well as substance of the review process.

    Since a procedure for hearing the public opinion on issues of national importance had not been adopted in this exercise, the committee must show a greater regard for these voluntary interventions. The government should allow a debate in the media and parliament over the recommendations made by the organisations before recommending the amendment draft to parliament. Even one tenth of the time that was given to the committee devoted for this purpose would make the process more credible.

    The review process cannot remain aloof from the crises Pakistan is passing through. It has to foresee and incorporate a framework for social, legal and economic reforms. The committee must look at successful examples of constitution-making worldwide, besides learning from the failures. The part that seems to be missing as yet is, in fact, of immense importance for common Pakistanis. It concerns human rights. Will the constitutional review enhance the scope of setting standards and enforcement of human rights?

    Historically, the phenomenon of human rights evolved together with democracy and internationalism. Human rights, defined as standards of fundamental freedoms and safeguards, have non-discrimination as their core value, while democracy is a system that underlines people’s participation in governing the state. Human rights and democracy are interdependent in a modern state system. You cannot have one without the other.

    The issues of vital importance to the common person cannot be addressed without looking at the principles or the conceptual framework and implementation mechanism to deal with non-discrimination among the citizens. Many nations signatory to the UN human rights treaties (especially the Convention on Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women) have legislated to define ‘discrimination’; even their constitutions have this definition. It is widely recognised that to rid society of undesirable practices they must be defined and clearly identified. Countries like Venezuela, South Africa and Canada have made changes in their constitutions. Therefore political systems that defined and outlawed discrimination had an edge in democratic development over a normative banning of discrimination.

    Article 21 of the Venezuelan Constitution states, “All persons are equal before the law and, consequently, no discrimination based on race, sex, creed or social standing shall be permitted, nor, in general, any discrimination with the intent or ‘effect’ of nullifying or impairing upon the recognition, enjoyment or exercise on equal terms, of the rights and liberties of every individual.” What this means in practice is that public policies must be re-examined for their discriminatory effects.

    The PCRC has a huge moral obligation to the cause of non-discrimination because the committee has no representation of women and religious minorities, two groups that are affected by discrimination commonly. As the constitution guarantees non-discrimination in Articles 18, 20, 25, 34 and 37, the constitution review committee will do this nation a service by taking a step in this direction. Besides incorporating a definition of discrimination, a proviso should be included annulling such laws and banning practices that are discriminatory on whatsoever grounds.

    The PCRC did not ‘touch upon’ the ‘Islamic provisions’ while making recommendations for the constitutional amendment. This could be a reaction to earlier questions raised by parties like MQM, ANP and Baloch nationalists represented in the committee regarding the country’s name and identity. Matters like Article 2, A and B, that make Islam the state religion are nonetheless contradictory to democratic principles.

    The term ‘Islamic provisions’ was first coined when the Constitution of 1956 was being discussed. The subsequent two constitutions enhanced their scope further. But should we be asking ourselves why our constitutions could not survive and why we still need to amend our existing constitution the 18th time, in a short span of time since its promulgation? The religio-political groups and the beneficiaries of dictatorship have used the premise of Islamic provisions to manipulate the formulation of law and policy exercises. The PCRC can help the nation steer out of extremism, religious and sectarian intolerance by finding a way to discourage abuse of religion. It will require cleansing the constitution of biases and preferences on the basis of religion.

    The discrimination solemnised through Article 41 and 93 (3rd schedule) that bar non-Muslim Pakistanis from holding the office of president and prime minister is a blot on the democratic credentials of the constitution as well as the polity. The PCRC still has time to study the religious and other biases in the constitution. All constitutional provisions making any preference among the citizens on the basis of sex, colour, creed, etc, should be done away with. That alone will lead us to become a forward looking and tolerant society. This exercise will become meaningful for the nation and worthy to be remembered only if the amendment proposed is in consonance with universal human rights. The government and opposition parties will have to demonstrate acumen, wisdom and political will to introduce a paradigm shift through this constitutional review.
     
  18. nandu

    nandu Senior Member Senior Member

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    18th Amendment draft to be tabled in Parliament tomorrow

    ISLAMABAD: Senator Mian Raza Rabbani, Chairman of the all parties Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms (PCCR) on Thursday handed over the report of the committee to Speaker National Assembly Dr. Fehmida Mirza and Chairman Senate Farooq H. Naek, Geo News reported.

    Draft amendment would be tabled in both the houses tomorrow.

    Receiving the report, Chairman Senate and Speaker National Assembly congratulated Chairman and members of the Parliamentary Committee on achieving this milestone.

    "Political leadership has proved that Parliament is supreme and parliamentarians can solve all problems faced by nation with consensus and reconciliation", Fehmida said.

    She maintained, it was an honor for her to take the report of the committee as she constituted the committee nine months before and after detailed discussions the report has been submitted to her.

    "March 31 is a historic day in the parliamentary history of the country as the committee completed its report after the nine-month hard work and in this regard I would like to congratulate the Chairman and the members of the committee", she maintained.

    Speaker National Assembly expressed confidence that both the Houses of the Parliament would also pass these reforms with consensus.

    Fehmida Mirza announced that the room in the parliament house where the committee had conducted over 77 meetings in the past nine months for the revival of the 1973 constitution in its original form should now be called the constitution room.

    Earlier, Chairman of the committee Mian Raza Rabbani said the task could have not been accomplished, without the great cooperation from members of all parties and their heads.

    Appreciating the role of the members of committee, he said that every member played his exemplary role in formulation of the reforms and maintained that all parties have reached on a consensus after a long period.

    He said the committee has tried to lay foundation of strengthening federation and democracy as well as the institutions.

    Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani congratulated the Chairman and members of the committee and said the whole nation was proud of the political leadership on their achievement.

    The Prime Minister on his arrival at the Parliament House, embraced the committee's Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani and other members.

    He lauded their hard work, political sagacity and commitment in producing the draft of Constitution Reforms unanimously agreed by all parties.

    He complimented the Committee for the tedious work and dialogue in a democratic spirit, which helped to reach on understanding
     
  19. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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  20. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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  21. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Pak President Zardari set to lose powers


    Islamabad: Pakistani Parliament is all set to clip the wings of President Asif Ali Zardari.
    The government has moved the 18th Constitutional Amendment Bill in Parliament on Friday, which takes away from the President the power to dissolve Parliament and appoint the army chief.

    Both the powers will now go to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
    The 18th Amendment Bill allows a third term for prime ministers which could help former premier Nawaz Sharif. The amendment brings transparency in the appointment of judges and the chief election commissioner and also gives more autonomy to the provinces. It also fulfils a longstanding demand of Pakistan's Pashtuns by renaming NWFP as Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa.
    "We acted upon the charter of democracy. I congratulate Parliament on bringing the 18th amendment bill," said Gilani after the amendment was passed.
    The Bill will have to be passed by both houses of Parliament by a two-thirds majority. Voting is expected on Monday after Zardari addresses Parliament.
    Critics say since Gilani belongs to the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) - a party headed by Zardari - the President will retain his influence.
    Nevertheless, the Bill is seen as the PPP fulfilling its election promise to restore the authority and dignity of Parliament and underscoring civilian supremacy.
     

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