The minus-two formula

Daily: Pakistan Observer
Date: 11.10.08

The coalition of the PPP and the PML-N had already been carrying along the image of
innate fragility bequeathed on it by the past. The inevitable disintegration surprised none,
though the manner and timing of crumbling disillusioned many optimists. The hatred
common in the person of the ex-President General Pervaiz Musharraf was the converging,
cementing force. Subsequently, the two parties parted ways: the PPP was leaning to
provide a constitutional swathe to the acts of Musharraf performed on Nov-3, 2007; the
PML-N, on the other hand, was indisposed to offering any such compassion. Hence,
departure of Musharraf, undoubtedly, disjointed the coalition, but for different reasons.

The dilemma Pakistan mired in is not only that the military dictatorship stalks democracy but
also that democracy serves the purpose of the military dictators. This time, the PPP, which
used to carry the anti-establishment flag, is volunteering to legalize the military dictatorship
experienced by the country in the recent past. Attached to the clemency – the reciprocal
theme – is the financial exculpation for the President, Asif Ali Zardari, in the shape of the
NRO.

When Zardari said that the conditions in which the agreement signed with the PML-N on the
issue of restoration of the deposed judges changed soon after – the moment Musharraf left
the presidency – meant that there had happened another agreement with someone else
including the pro-Musharraf camp. The second agreement outmanoeuvred the first one.
Presumably, the second accord entailed ejection of Musharraf followed by the removal of
the deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry materializing thereby the minus-
two formula. At least, the body language of the PPP radiates so.

The issue of restoration of the Nov-2 judiciary has been harmed by the backdoor channels
working around. The constitutional amendment package issued by Farooq Naek, the
Federal Law Minister, was designed to show the pro-Musharraf camp the will of the PPP.
After giving forgiveness to a military dictator for his dictatorial acts, how the PPP will survive
the ensuing onslaught of the democratic forces is yet to be deciphered. One thing,
however, is certain: in the wake of the pro-Musharraf stance of the PPP, the party will be
deprived of its anti-establishment posture in the times to come. Probably, that bearing will
be attained by the PML-N. Further, the PPP would stand for what the PML-Q stood
yesterday.

The Pakistanis would rue the day when they acquiesced in to the proposition of providing
constitutional cover to the Nov-3 acts of Musharraf. The mistake which ensnared Musharraf
was that unlike his predecessor military dictators who used to get their martial law
indemnified through constitutional amendments, as Musharraf did for himself against
October 1999 coup, Musharraf could not get his martial law protected under the
constitution. Musharraf could not find time and chance to do so, as his toady party, the
PML-Q, lost the fair elections.

Presently, Musharraf is out of the power corridor but is yet vulnerable to conviction on the
allegations of violating the constitution unless the forthcoming Eighteenth Constitutional
Amendment protects his acts. Generally speaking, the attitude of the Pakistanis is short of
being democratic in nature. Had it not been so, the PPP would have been in a difficult
position on the question of siding with a military dictator. But how to do away with the issue
of the NRO and the relief on education criteria to become the president are the bigger
questions. Perhaps, it depends whether the Pakistanis want to be driven by the history or
mend their attitudes to make new history for themselves.

The PML-Q, the toady party of Musharraf, has to side with the PPP to pass the next
Amendment. There comes another dilemma: it seems that the message conveyed on
February 18, 2008, has been forgotten and the shady deals are overwhelming the electoral
verdict of the people. Moreover, it seems as if February 18 would never revisit.

In the Constitution, the executive, the legislature and the judiciary have separate roles to
play. A sort of functional harmony can be achieved when each works to the maximum in its
respective sphere. Nevertheless, each institution has potential to takeover the job of the
other: if one institution is lagging behind the void may be filled up by the other because the
system to bring about the end result has to deliver. For instance, in the recent past, the
judiciary attained a central and decisive stage because of underperformance of the rest of
the two institutions. It is infeasible that the judiciary should be discouraged but it is feasible
that the other institutions should improve their performance.

By effects, it seems that the PPP government has been applying various pressures on the
PML-N to submit to the NRO. On the other hand, the society is ravaged by a kind of conflict.
One the one side is the sense of propriety, justice and fair play while on the other side is
the NRO to condone corruption, conviction and what not of the leaders running the country.
The society is embroiled in the contradiction in words and deeds. If the contradiction is
continued, the whole society will be devastated.

The way democracy has been mauled by the continual military interventions; the way the
democratic forces are protecting the unconstitutional acts of the military dictators; and the
way the concept ‘reconciliation’ is abused, Pakistan has become a laughing stock in the
world. The same aspect has invited ire of the Pakistani society. The PML-Q was punished
on February 18, 2008; the next may be the turn of the PPP. Nevertheless, the collateral
damage has been suffered by the judiciary which has now been undermined to the extent
that it cannot even sustain one executive order. The pliant judiciary, as it is now, is bound
to look up to the rulers who installed them frustrating thereby the dream of independence of
the judiciary.    

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