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Is There Any Justification For Supporting Dictator?

By       Message Muhammad Khurshid     Permalink
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There might be a lot of people, who will not agree with me that war on terrorism is the war of interest of a few individuals headed by the King of the world US President George W. Bush instead a war for saving civilisation, but this is the fact that war on terrorism is actually the war of interest of a few individuals. Eight years have passed to this mad war, but still there is terrorism. Actually these people always keep concentration on securing the power. For only the power they have endanged the very existence of this world into danger.

Is General Pervez Musharraf not a dictator? General Musharraf is a dictator, but still Bush has been supporting him. Is it fair? US President George W Bush on Friday telephoned President Pervez Musharraf and congratulated him on the assumption of the office for the second term, a Foreign Office spokesman said. President Bush expressed the hope that under Musharraf’s leadership, Pakistan will continue to make progress in every field. President Bush also lauded the president’s commitment to fight extremism and terrorism. Musharraf took oath as a civilian president on November 29, having retired as chief of army staff a day earlier. The Supreme Court of Pakistan had paved the way for Musharraf on November 23, validating his October 6 re-election for a second term in office.

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US Ambassador Anne W Patterson on Friday urged the Pakistan government to lift curbs on the media and release all political and civil society detainees.

“We urge the Government of Pakistan to lift all remaining restrictions, especially those on the media and release all detainees,” she said while addressing the National Media Conference organised by the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA).

She praised the Pakistani media for being vibrant. She said a free media was important for the growth of democracy and it was incumbent both on the government and media to maintain the freedom of press.

She praised President Pervez Musharraf for giving freedom to the media in Pakistan and said the freedom enjoyed by the media was irreversible. She asked the government to ensure the people’s access to information. Patterson said curbs on the media would also impact the Pakistani economy since the media was a source of revenue for the government also, and had helped the economy grow. She said that in the US, freedom of the press was part of the constitution.

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According to an editorial comment, Hundreds of lawyers in all the major cities of the country observed Black Day on Thursday, calling for the removal of the Emergency and the PCO (Provisional Constitution Order) and the restoration of the Supreme Court of Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry ousted by the PCO. They also called on the political parties to boycott the January 2008 elections under President Pervez Musharraf. In Lahore, at least ten lawyers and four DSPs, two inspectors and seven constables sustained injuries after scuffles and brick-batting. A court-boycott was also observed in Karachi and other provincial headquarters. However, since President Musharraf has now announced that Emergency and the PCO will go on December 16, the only demand that the lawyers can now agitate is the restoration of the old Supreme Court.

Pakistan’s most respected lawyers have appeared on various TV channels to revisit the history of military takeovers in Pakistan and what these did to the judiciary, which had to bend to accommodate the dictators and their illegal governments. Anyone who is familiar with Pakistan’s history would agree and will understand why the lawyers’ community is so agitated. When the lawyers’ movement took hold of the country in March, it had universal support. The political parties, hitherto pragmatic in their approach, also stiffened their stance after seeing how the lawyers had brought Pakistan’s fundamental flaw to centre-stage.

The lawyers in fact wished to keep their movement clean of political participation. Therefore, the political parties joined their movement only half-heartedly. In fact, one big party was put off with some of its members who joined the protest as it thought that, while the legal profession was standing on its rights, it might narrow the ground available for political bargaining and adjustment at the macro level. Another fact is that the popularity of the lawyers’ movement, based on unchallengeable principles, forced political parties across the board to take a hard line with General Musharraf and make him yield more than he was willing to give on the conditions of participation in the elections. This is an achievement of the legal community that it can boast of. But a fundamental question has arisen in the heat and dust of battle: can this be built upon further to actually bend impure politics to the exigencies of pure law?

Can law and politics be mixed? Yes, they can and must. But one cannot help observing that at some point they diverge because of their different short and long-term objectives. The lawyers want a restoration of the principles of law without wishing to hold power in the country. That is an excellent long-term prescription. But political parties want to get into power here and now as that is their main goal. This basic condition of existence compels the parties to pay more attention to their survival as mediators between the state and civil society rather than anti-state civil elements. If they become completely legalistic in their approach they can suffer in the political arena. For instance, absenting themselves from elections can damage their support base and lessen their chances of survival.

Under General Musharraf, while the political parties avoided boycotting the general election of 2002, the PPP and the PMLN suffered because their leaders were in exile. While sitting on the opposition benches, both parties felt the support for them increasing among the masses, although both had been dismissed on corruption charges twice, and the PMLN had been guilty of assaulting the Supreme Court. Today, different opinion surveys place them very favourably vis-à-vis the PMLQ which is supposed to have benefited from its incumbency from 2002 to 2007. While they are divided over the question of boycott, both face the risk of losing their standing if they leave their voters at the mercy of those who would take part in elections.

It is for this reason that important mainstream politicians continue to defy the position of the lawyers while completely supporting their movement. Thus it is embarrassing that the lawyers have been compelled on the basis of their legalistic position to reprimand the head of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, for accepting a ticket from his party, the PPP, and filing his nomination papers for contesting the elections. If the legal community is disappointed with the PPP for deciding to take part in the elections, it should also have sympathy for the trouble that the APDM is faced with on the question.

Although the PMLN leader Mr Nawaz Sharif is bravely challenging President Musharraf with the threat of boycott, he cannot be unaware of the damage it will bring to his party. It is only after he decides to participate that his breakaway partymen and his vote bank will return to him. For instance, what would the lawyers advise him to do over the latest development in Chakwal in Punjab where the PMLQ candidate has withdrawn from the contest in favour of the PMLN candidate, and the two local Leagues have actually announced their merger?

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It is considerations such as these that should be resolved in the short term in the longer term interest of state and society. *

 

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Muhammad Khurshid, a resident of Bajaur Agency, tribal areas situated on Pak-Afghan border is journalist by profession. He contributes articles and news stories to various online and print newspapers. His subject matter is terrorism. He is also (more...)
 

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