A strange malady has gripped the higher policymaking circles in Islamabad. There is no sense of urgency in resolving overwhelmingly important issues like the question of resetting the US-Pakistan relations. Nor are there effective solutions of the breakdown of law and order in Balochistan and the frequently recurring bouts of target killing in Karachi. No sense of loss of time and opportunity. Power shortages leading to prolonged loadshedding rage on to undermine our industries, adding to the unending misery of the people. The writ of the government no longer works in parts of the country. Human security is a luxury few enjoy. The economy is at the lowest ebb - inflation soaring with unemployment mounting with every passing day. Corruption is rampant with the Prime Minister and his family directly accused of involvement in shady deals and venal practices.
The elected houses have been turned into circuses with all kinds of rabbits jumping out of the jugglers’ hats. The latest is the rush for creating more provinces. Resolutions are passed post-haste sans proper procedure or scrutiny.
All this, and much better unsaid, is taking a heavy toll of the country’s standing and strength. Mark the recent statements of Hillary Clinton in India accusing Pakistan of dilly-dallying in proceeding against alleged terrorists and telling us that bin Laden’s successor Aymen Al-Zawahiri is hiding somewhere in our country. How Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna, capitalising on Hillary’s accusations, is taking Pakistan to task for not doing enough to curb and control banned organisations and their leaders.
Inexplicably, a virtual paralysis afflicts the decision makers in Islamabad in regard to resetting the new terms of engagement with Washington. The delay and dithering have worsened the state of relationship, at our cost.
While the powers that be in Pakistan sit idly letting conditions deteriorate, the lawmakers in the USA have stepped up their designs to teach Pakistan a lesson and punish it in various ways. The House Armed Services Committee, the House Appropriations Sub-Committee and various other panels have called for the denial of $800 million meant for training and equipping Pakistan’s military to counter insurgency operations. It has also been proposed to clamp a complete ban on security and economic assistance to Pakistan, unless the Secretary of State certifies that it is fully cooperating and taking action against terrorists. Aid is sought to be linked to the reopening of land route for Nato supplies. A new bill has been introduced that could stop preferential trade and reduce aid to 10 percent of the available funds unless certain conditions are met.
How devastatingly unconcerned the Prime Minister of a country can be with such terrible turn of events and when the country has to face dire threats from the sole superpower of the world. And here we are talking about a Prime Minister, who keeps refusing to abide by the court verdict and was convicted of contempt of the Supreme Court. In a remarkably elaborate judgment, the court has spelt out in detail the reasons for the verdict and how each and every point raised by the Prime Minister’s Counsel and the Attorney General have been fully addressed. It will be in order to reproduce a few lines of the judgment: “In the case in hand, the accused is the highest executive functionary of the state of Pakistan and he has wilfully, deliberately and persistently defied a clear direction of the highest court of the country.
“We are, therefore, fully satisfied that such clear and persistent defiance at such a high level constitutes contempt, which is substantially detrimental to the administration of justice and tends not only to bring this court, but also the judiciary of this country into ridicule.
“After all, if orders or directions of the highest court of the country are defied by the highest Executive of the country, then others…….may also feel tempted to follow the example leading to a collapse or paralysis of administration of justice, besides creating an atmosphere wherein judicial authority and verdicts are laughed at and ridiculed.
“For the above reasons, we convicted and sentenced the respondent by short order on 26.04.2012, as follows: ‘For reasons to be recorded later, the accused Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, Prime Minister of Pakistan/Chief Executive of the Federation, is found guilty of and convicted for contempt of court under Article 204(2) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 read with Section 3 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance (Ordinance V of 2003) for wilful flouting, disregard and disobedience of this court’s direction contained in paragraph No 178 of the judgment delivered in the case of Dr Mobashir Hassan v. Federation of Pakistan (PLD 2010 SC 265) after our satisfaction that the contempt committed by him is substantially detrimental to the administration of justice and tends to bring this court and the judiciary of this country into ridicule’.”
Aptly has Mr Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa added a note with a quotation from Khalil Jibran’s poem titled Pity the Nation. A quoted excerpt: “Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero…….Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox, whose philosopher is a juggler, and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking…….Pity the nation divided into fragments, each fragment deeming itself a nation.” Justice Khosa has also added his own words written more or less in the same strain. “Pity the nation that treats a criminal as a hero and considers civility as weakness and that deems a sage a fool and venerates the wicked…….
Pity the nation that adopts a Constitution, but allows political interests to outweigh constitutional diktat. Pity the nation that demands justice for all, but is agitated when justice hurts its political loyalty. Pity the nation whose servants treat their solemn oaths as nothing more than a formality before entering upon an office. Pity the nation that elects a leader as a redeemer, but expects him to bend every law to favour his benefactors. Pity the nation whose leaders seek martyrdom through disobeying the law than giving sacrifices for the glory of law and who see no shame in crime…….Pity the nation that punishes its weak and poor, but is shy of bringing its high and mighty to book. Pity the nation that clamours for equality before law, but has selective justice close to its heart. Pity the nation that thinks from its heart and not from its head.”
Mr Justice Khosa also referred to a judgment delivered by Justice Louis Brandeis of United States Supreme Court. The last sentence of the quotation is: “If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself, it invites anarchy.”
A lot of food for thought in these wise words!
n The writer is an ex-federal secretary and ambassador, and political and international relations analyst.