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What is going on?

  • Posted On: 11th June 2013
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What a conundrum! I am totally confused. I am not even in a position to write a coherent piece on what is going on in this country of ours. Let me just get some facts straight.
  • The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan starts with the words “Whereas sovereignty over the entire Universe belongs to Almighty Allah alone”.
  • The Objectives Resolution (a part of the constitution) mentions that Pakistan shall be a state where “the principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice as enunciated by Islam shall be fully observed”.
  • Article 203D (1) of the Constitution says that the Federal Shariat Court “[either of its own motion or] on the petition of a citizen of Pakistan or the Federal Government or a Provincial Government, examine and decide the question whether or not any law or provision of law is repugnant to the injunctions of Islam, as laid down in the Holy Quran and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet”.
  • Article 203D (3) goes on to say that if any such provision is held by the Court to be repugnant to the injunctions of Islam “such law or provision shall, to the extent to which it is held to be so repugnant, cease to have effect on the day on which the decision of the Court takes effect”.
  • Article 227(1) says “All existing laws shall be brought in conformity with the Injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Holy Quran and Sunnah, and no law shall be enacted which is repugnant to such Injunctions”.
The words within inverted commas are directly taken from the Constitution. With all these and numerous other provisions present in the Constitution as well as various other laws enforced in Pakistan, I wonder what is going on in Malakand. According to news reports in all the leading newspapers of the country:
  • The NWFP government abolished all un-Islamic laws in Malakand division.
  • According to the NWFP Information Minister: “In this judicial system, Shariah Muhammadi, the details of which are available in books of Islamic Fiqah and based on the Holy Quran, Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), Ijma and Qias will be in force and no decision against it will be acceptable.”
  • The Chief Minister of NWFP explained to the media that this system is “meant to provide speedy and cheap justice”.
What bothers me is, firstly, that the government has admitted that un-Islamic laws existed in the district of Malakand, and consequently, virtually admitted that such laws also exist in the rest of the country. Secondly, that the Constitution of Pakistan and the other laws and courts of the country are not capable of mending the situation and a whole new law is required to enforce Islamic laws. Then why do we have such provisions in the first place?
I am not an expert on the subject, hence the confusion, but I feel that this step is a mockery of the supreme law of the land. It has been our dilemma since the creation of Pakistan that we have not taken our laws seriously. We are a sovereign state, nobody can force us to legislate in a particular manner. Our legislative assemblies are free to make and amend laws as they please, and yet, we continue to make laws that either cannot be implemented or have no intention of implementing.
I don’t know where the fundamental fault is, not because I can’t see a fault but because I see too many of them. Our legislators are more interested in mud slinging and ministries and perquisites than their actual job of legislation. We can pass laws to right a number of wrongs but for some reason we do not (take the case of the reinstatement of the Chief Justice, for example). When we do make laws they are mostly ill-drafted and unclear resulting in making little difference to the situation since they just cannot be implemented. And when, once in a while, we do pass a legislation that is clear and according to our wishes, we do not implement it anyway.
In short, I feel that we, as a nation, are unclear about three things. What we want, why we want it and how we can get it. Blame it on our centuries-long legacy of being ruled by others, or on our dismal education system or whatever you feel like. The fact is that we, as individuals also suffer from the same indecision. We plan things, make rules and then break them ourselves.
Bad laws, bad implementation, bad execution, I can take all these, mistakes are a part of life, but a Constitution that is not enough or is forgotten? That speaks volumes of us as a nation. And, for the record, I am still confused.

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