Lawful punishments

During his recent address at Karachi, the Prime Minister (PM) stated that Pakistan would apply the ‘US method’ to lawfully punish May 09 arsonists. He compared the May 9, 2023, countrywide protests to the planned assault on Capitol Hill by far-right Trump supporters on January 06, 2021.
The US Constitution was written in 1787 and has been in operation since 1789. It is the world’s longest-surviving written charter of government that is respected and followed in totality, no individual or institution can dare to cross the constitutional boundaries. The constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan by contrast enacted on August 14, 1973, has been abused and violated ever. Colonial era laws like the Sedition Act of 1864, the Official Secrecy Act of 1923, the Government of India Act of 1935, and martial legislations like MPO, Section 144, and the Military Act of 1952 continue to haunt the constitution and the people of the republic violating the fundamental human rights enshrined in the constitution.
The events of May 9, 2023 must be carefully understood before passing judgements. The arrest of Ex-PM Imran Khan from the premises of Islamabad High Court (IHC) that triggered the country-wide protests has already been declared illegal by the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP). It was a unique event of its kind.
In Lahore, the largest gathering was at the Liberty Chowk where instigators infiltrated, urging the crowd to move to the Corps Commander’s house located in the well-guarded and barricaded Cantonment area. The saner protestors did not heed these calls, however, some fell into the trap and reached there with no usual resistance on the way. Those who ransacked the property must be brought to justice after an independent inquiry and due process as was followed in the US.
The events of the Capitol Hill attack on January 06, 2021, were totally different. Far-right supporters of the incumbent President stormed the US Capitol building to disrupt the proceedings of the Electoral College which had assembled to confirm the winner of the Presidential election in which Joe Biden had been declared victorious defeating Donald Trump. Vice President Mike Pence who was presiding was asked to nullify the count but refused as it was unconstitutional. Some of the protestors were armed and reportedly carried pipe bombs as well. The police tried to stop them, but they broke through the barricades.
138 policemen were injured. It was called ‘Save America March’. The President did not send the National Guards to control the situation. The in-house security had to move the Congressmen to safety behind closed doors. Finally, when it was all over, Joe Biden was confirmed President the next day. Thorough investigations were carried out. President Trump was impeached for the second time by the House of Representatives, but the motion did not carry through the Senate.
In Pakistan at the time of partition, the civilian and military areas were clearly marked. Growing up on the Mall, we seldom crossed the Mian Mir bridge to enter the Cantt area. As the property was leased and not owned very few civilians lived there. There was hardly any commercial activity. I remember there used to be Globe Cinema and a wine shop across from it in a small market that was it. There were Army and Air Force messes for the officers and a small CSD building (Canteen Stores Department). Until the first martial law in October 1958, the only event of public interaction was the March 23rd parade, later the horse and cattle show and tattoo shows were introduced. Increased traffic flow started when the Airport was moved from Walton to the Air Force base in Cantt.
Like the USA, Pakistan has a written constitution that must be respected and protected. People have stood up now the courts have to stand up too before it is all over.

The writer is Ex-Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation, email:

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