Siddiqui: Musharraf ‘Defacing’ Pakistan Constitution

The USG Open Source Center translates from Urdu a critical commentator on Pervez Musharraf’s ‘defacing’ of the Pakistan constitution. Musharraf has lifted the state of emergency in preparation for elections, but there are suspicions he will have them rigged. Press restrictions remain in effect.

Pakistan Commentary Criticizes Musharraf for Defacing Constitution, Judiciary
Commentary by Irfan Siddiqui: “Dagger’s Language”
Nawa-e Waqt
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Document Type: OSC Translated Text

Truth cannot be hidden for a long period and in spite of many efforts, it comes to light sooner or later. Even if the dagger remains silent, the blood cries and its echo is heard all over the world. But here the dagger has itself disclosed the secret.

On 3 November, Musharraf decided to punish the judges for their audacity after being informed by the intelligence sleuths and the attorney general about his impending disqualification as the presidential candidate by the 11-member bench of the Supreme Court. But, the question was as to how this should be done. Earlier, this goal could not be achieved despite filing a presidential reference against deposed Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry on 9 March (2007), summoning Supreme Judicial Council meeting by keeping the chief justice under detention, administering oath to the new chief justice, and imposing many restrictions on Justice Chaudhry. The constitution had stood in the way of the president like a rock.

Therefore, the presidential camp held consultations to get rid of the audacious chief justice and judges, who upholding the constitution, were to declare the chief of army staff (Musharraf) ineligible to contest presidential election for ignoring wider national interest to fulfill the requirements of the “war on terror” (preceding three words in English). Musharraf was told that he had no solution to this issue as president. The prime minister could also do nothing. The cabinet was helpless. Parliament could also extend no help in a case being heard in the Supreme Court. But he could do something as chief of army staff, as his office is above law, constitution, and even his own oath (every armed forces officer takes oath at the time of getting commissioned that he or she will not take part in politics). Therefore, the army chief once again threw the constitution aside and issued Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) for the second time, imposed martial law under the cover of emergency, and despite the presence of the so-called democratic system made himself an autocratic ruler of Pakistan like a chief martial law administrator. It was difficult for him in his capacity as president to get rid of a judge, but now he has removed the chief justice, 50 judges, and also the constitution.

The order proclaiming the state of emergency, which in fact was martial law, said the decisions of the judges were affecting the war on terror, as they ordered to release terrorists and open Lal Masjid (red mosque in Islamabad, which was stormed by the army commandos on 10 July 2007); therefore, this step had become imperative to continue the war on terror with the same enthusiasm. This was tantamount to throwing dust in the eyes of 160 million Pakistanis. They knew that the only motive behind trampling the constitution, depriving them of their fundamental rights, and removing around 50 judges, including the chief justice, was the petition in the Supreme Court questioning Musharraf’s eligibility as presidential candidate. Even a layman knew that the attack on the judiciary was aimed to create hurdles in the way of justice so that he could take oath as president for another five-year term.

The president and his team have, however, been giving lame excuses for the actioins taken on 3 November. And now after one month and nine days, while giving an interview to Al-Jazirah television, General (Ret) Musharraf said Justice Chaudhry was trying to remove him from office illegally; therefore, he had to impose a state of emergency in the country on 3 November. “If Chaudhary was allowed to remain in office, you can imagine how much lawlessness, chaos, and turmoil the country would have witnessed,” he added.

During the interview, the truth that the president was trying to hide through fake arguments ultimately came out of his mouth. The same thing had happened after 12 October 1999. The arguments he had given at that time said: “The country was going to be bankrupt, foreign exchange reserves were about to end, the country was facing global isolation, and the state was going to disintegrate.” He had “created” several other justifications of his 12 October 1999 step (of removing Nawaz Sharif, the then prime minister). Then, one day he suddenly stated: “Had Sharif not removed me as army chief (he had removed Musharraf and appointed Gen Ziauddin as new army chief on 12 October 1999), he would have still been the prime minister.” The discerning Pakistanis were aware of this fact even on 12 October 1999, but the president and his lackeys tried to hide a big truth for a long period.

Musharraf’s confession of the reality is not a minor thing. Justice Chaudhry had become an irritant for the president, who was made to believe that the top judge’s activism (preceding word in English) is becoming a big threat to his autocracy. Therefore, he tore apart the constitution and took all those steps which were not within the parameters of the constitution, law, traditions, and morality. If only Justice Chaudhry was a problem, why were other judges also targeted?

While denying the president’s statement, Justice Chaudhry has said: “I was not there on the bench hearing the case regarding his eligibility as presidential candidate.” It is a fact that despite having no constitutional and legal bar, he kept himself away from every case involving Musharraf. Had the president an iota of trust in the judiciary, he would have not taken the 3 November step. He had two options: First, to bow to the court verdict. Secondly, to crush the judiciary. He opted for the second. He fabricated excuses for murdering the judiciary, but ultimately the truth has come to light with full force.

There are reports that a major surgery (preceding two words in English) on the Pakistan Constitution is being carried out before lifting the “Martial Law Emergency” on 15 December. At present, the constitution is lying senseless on an operation table and president’s legal aides are using surgical blades on it. In a democracy, the constitution can only be amended with a two-thirds majority in Parliament, but it is a “magic house,” where long nails of the magicians can tear apart the constitution whenever they like. The constitution going to be restored on 15 June (month as published; constitution to be restored on 15 December) will be too weak to stand on its feet.

After Musharraf’s admission of the reality, there is no doubt that the drama (preceding word in English) of emergency and the PCO was only aimed at murdering the judiciary. Under the cover of emergency and the PCO, the constitution is being defaced. All these steps will ultimately need the approval of Parliament. Therefore, the magicians desperately need two-thirds majority in the coming parliament. For this reason, they have planned not to allow Sharif to contest elections so that the PML-Q (Pakistan Muslim League-Qaid-e Azam Group) could walk into the corridors of power quite easily. Maulana Fazlur Rahman (Jamiyat-e Ulema-e Islam-Fazlur Rahman Group chief) and NRO (National Reconciliation Order)’s daughter (Benazir Bhutto, who was given relief through NRO by dropping corruption charges against her) came to the government’s rescue. Therefore, forces behind the curtains were making all-out efforts to keep Sharif stuck to boycotting the elections, as this was the only situation in which Musharraf’s supporters could be awarded a two-thirds majority. But, this dream has now been shattered.

The magicians did succeed to the extent that they managed to keep Qazi Hussain Ahmad (Jamaat-e Islami chief) and Imran Khan (Pakistan Tahrik-e Insaf chairman) out of the election arena. Had Nawaz-Qazi-Imran formed an electoral alliance, even the huge rigging could not stop a change taking place in the country. The magicians know this. Therefore, they will be somewhat satisfied. But, the PML-N’s participation in the elections has at least made it certain that the new assembly will not endorse all the constitutional amendments including the removal of judges.

These people should know that the coming era will not be of the magicians but of those people who will defeat these magicians.

(Description of Source: Rawalpindi Nawa-e Waqt in Urdu — Privately owned, widely read, conservative Islamic daily, with circulation around 125,000. Harshly critical of the US and India.)’