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Will Defeating Terrorism Be A Defeat For Bush?

By       Message Muhammad Khurshid       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink

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The elimination of terrorism will minimize the chance for US President George W. Bush and his cronies all over the world to keep themselves in power. Then a new leadership will emerge, who will use jaw-jaw, the famous terminology of Churchill for ending the Second World War. 

This is the right time to exert pressure on the rulers to eliminate this menace, which has been posing a very threat to the existence of this world. The resources should be saved from wastage. One thing should be kept in mind -  that terrorism can also be eliminated through political means.

The situation in Pakistan is still uncertain. Former foreign secretary of Pakistan Tanvir Ahmed has discussed the situation in his latest essay:

Dictatorship, wrote Machiavelli, was a wise invention of the Roman Republic because after the expulsion of the kings, it ensured that “a strong power would be available in time of peril”. The dictator, he noted, was appointed on petition of the Senate by the consuls for six months and would customarily “step down before the full duration of his tenure if he successfully executed his assigned commission”. In Machiavelli’s precise analysis, the commission usually pertained to “the direction of a war effort or the suppression of a rebellion”.

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Assumption of exceptional powers by an agent of the state was thus regulated by key concepts that were not blithely brushed aside. It was initiated by the Tribune of the people, conformed to a procedure, and, above all, was limited to a specific task performed speedily. There were violations of norms as when Caesar and Sulla used this privileged responsibility of the state to change the constitutional order to perpetuate their personal power. The common factor in the two scenarios was recognition of the fact that survival of the state or a people might require concentration of power. An extraordinary measure taken for the common good, it had to transcend individual caprice or self-aggrandisement.

The writers of the American Constitution were unwilling to provide for such an exceptional dispensation but by and large the history of modern states reveals a legal window for it. In actual practice, there was an inherent tension between the classical view of emergency as a highly regulated and finite expedient and its exploitation for a protracted exercise of dictatorial power by a person or party.

The rise of fascism in inter-war Europe tilted the balance in favour of charismatic leaders aspiring to unquestioned sovereign authority. At the other end of the spectrum, the triumph of Lenin’s revolution in Russia led to the dictatorship of the proletariat and, therefore, of the party that embodied it.

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In both cases there was recourse to emergency powers free of temporal limitations; they were considered essential to a radical transformation of the state and society and to protecting them from forces of reaction. Destruction alike of European fascism and internationalist communism swung the balance once again in favour of democracy, rule of law, separation of powers and individual human rights. Provision of emergency powers survives in numerous Constitutions but in a form and manner that is heavily subordinated to the will of elected institutions both in sanctioning it and accounting for it.

Proclamation of emergency in Pakistan on November 3 did not fit into any historical pattern of legitimacy. Its duration is too short to link it to the usually cited reasons such as a perilous war or a rebellion threatening the state. It was not imposed by the Head of the State, and the national parliament had never considered it. It was almost instantaneously recognised as a device to cripple institutions basking in a short spring of judicial activism and media independence. It is being revoked after a dramatic elimination of possible hurdles in the path of the chief of army staff becoming a powerful president for yet another term.

Pakistan has often faced emergency powers but the latest instance radically changes the challenge to political parties. Regardless of their participation in or boycott of elections, they are now equally answerable to the people for their commitment to containing the long-term consequences of November 3. As in the past, the precedent would be used to justify unconstitutional fiats of arbitrary power in future and some incarnation of the Muslim League would always provide a political veneer.

Pakistan, indeed, is at a crossroads. The cycle of unlawful actions undermining the very foundations of the state has to be broken. The main criterion by which political parties should be given popular support is their resolve to remove constitutional distortions caused by serial assaults on the 1973 Constitution. It has to include a solemn commitment to the restoration of the judges who courageously declined to take yet another oath upon an unlawful suspension of the constitution.

It is the season of election manifestos even though most voters will make up their mind without reading them. They should, however, be studied for their declaratory value. The manifesto of PMLQ should be scrutinised for any evidence if a loose assortment of individuals seeking survival and material gains is finally beginning to acquire enough moral energy to become a party dedicated to common good. Its most vocal ministers have left a long trail of utterly amoral political pronouncements in the last five years that would make Machiavelli look like Thomas Aquinas.

Similarly, PMLN’s document has to be read closely to determine if its leadership has grasped the imperative of reconnecting with the founding fathers of the ideology and state of Pakistan during the long years of political wilderness and of abandoning its later role of rationalising military coups of Pakistan’s tortured history.

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The Pakistan People’s Party began its latest engagement with the nation in an atmosphere vitiated by malicious rumours that it was being invited to prolong military rule and continue the subordination of national interest to the American wars in the region. Its founder sacrificed his life as he could not contemplate such tasks. Time has not stood still since late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto formulated his political philosophy and he would not have been averse to a dynamic re-interpretation of it in a greatly changed historical context. The party would doubtless be judged by the creativity it shows in aligning his philosophy with a scheme of national salvation in the present predicament.

The MQM still bears the burden of proving that it has liberated itself from the violent ethno-political creed that brought much suffering and instability once upon a time. Democracy makes for pluralistic approaches but today all roads lead to one over-riding milestone. No manifesto can be implemented without the country returning to the rule of law.
The End

 

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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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