Ignorance is bliss /(to be roo baroo)

Daily: The Nation
Date: 20.09.04

“Interests are constant while policies are variable” is an antithesis of ‘neighbours are
constant while interests and policies are variable’. Interests become constant when the
pendulum of choice, while swinging between two compulsory ends: “with us” (friend) or “with
our enemy” (foe), stuck at ‘friend’ especially when the facility of fund stands nearer to it!

Having fought three major and one minor war, both Pakistan and India have finally decided
to look for a solution of Kashmir issue through a dialogue owing to a constant factor: one is
a neighbour of the other — the geographical compulsion. Resultantly, both have been
trying to converge their respective interests — Jugular Vein and Attot Ang respectively — to
find out either a popular or unpopular solution of Kashmir entangle. The relevant policies
are revolving around that.

It means that geography is a constant factor while not the interests. It is the geographical
factor that dictates the interests and the subsequent and related policies. Interests can
converge or diverge and so are the policies.

On the other hand, where one country is a piece of land while the other is almost half of the
continent of the North America, parallels are difficult to be drawn. Similar are the problems
to declare that the respective interests of both the countries were, are, and will be constant.
For instance, when Pakistan was keen to improve its defence sector, the notorious Pressler
Amendment came into place depriving Pakistan of the necessary F-16 for which Pakistan
had paid the requisite money.

Pakistan is never in need of the non-NATO ally status. It is a status of dependence. If the
US possesses its interests common with Pakistan, it should supply an up-dated version of F-
16 to Pakistan on payment — an acid test. That will be a status of independence. The
same can never happen. To that reference, the Pakistanis are thankful to the Chinese who
always came for their help — shoulder to shoulder — both at regional and international
level. As per history, China made Pakistan more independent.

When one says in public that “National Security Council (NSC) is not a supra body over the
Parliament”, one forgets that according to the Constitution of 1973, the head of State is the
Prime Minister (PM) and not the President. However, the NSC, being an infra or even
equivalent body to the Parliament, is being headed by the President and not by the PM. It
implies that the stature of the President is above the PM and that of the NSC above the
Parliament. Moreover, either the assertion that ‘the NSC is not a supra body’ is wrong or
the Constitution of 1973 is wrong.

At this juncture, there stand two options: either to amend the Constitution of 1973 or to
modify the constitution of the NSC. Hitherto, having failed to amend the Constitution of 1973
in this regard and having introduced the NSC through an act of Parliament, the next choice
is to shift the Constitution from its Parliamentary spirit to the Presidential one: to bring the
Constitution of 1973 in conformity with the constitution of the NSC and not the vice versa.

To justify the existence of the NFC when it is said: “it had been set-up to prevent Martial
Law” by “maintaining necessary checks and balances in the given political system”, the
people of Pakistan are excluded as a necessary check to balance the political system, as
envisaged in the Constitution of 1973.  

The phrase “to suit the local needs” is another source of anxiety for becoming justification
of the expected (non-evolved) changes and the consequential effects. In order to meet the
local needs, the Presidential system is being considered a better option over the Martial
Law tilted Parliamentary system. Moreover, that neo-system will be prone to further
modifications again “to suit the local needs”. The sky is the limit!

It took about twenty-six years to formulate an agreed Constitution in 1973. Looking at the
post-1973 era, it seems that the problem is not with the Constitution or with the
Parliamentary system of democracy. It was rather the institutional conflict, between the
military institution and the political institution, which brought General Musharraf in and threw
Nawaz Sharif out — even out of the country.

It was not the strength of General Musharraf but the weakness of Nawaz Sharif, which made
the latter an exile. Nawaz Sharif could not bear the agony of detention. He started looking
for a Naimat-i-Khudawandi. By enjoying the naimat, he doomed his political career, besides
of his brother. Similarly, by owning the naimat of the famous Surrey Palace, Asif Ali Zardari
has put his political future in the doldrums, besides of his better half.  In both the cases, the
past political investment has also been ruined.

It is said that ‘no option is the best option’. In order to avail the ‘best option’, one has to
become deaf-and-dumb. That is what is being practised by majority of the people of
Pakistan. They know that there is no need to seek their prior consent because, after all, at
the end of the day they would be informed as to what were the interests that were constant;
how was the NSC not a supra body over the Parliament; how was the NSC a check on the
political system; why did the Presidential system make its room; what was the meaning of
the local needs; and why were the local needs in the driving seat? By the time the answers
are brought to their roo baroo, they enjoy their part of naimat i.e. ignorance, the ignorance
where lies bliss.

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