Caretakers and the Constitution

Published: January 1, 2013

Qadri's proposal is to have a caretaker, technocratic govt, but this would be in clear violation of the Constitution. PHOTO: NNI/FILE

One of the saddest aspects of democratic politics in Pakistan today is how the very political parties who are supposed to be safeguarding are the ones posing the greatest threat. What’s even worse is that certain parties must know that Qadri’s sudden reappearance on the political scene has been engineered by anti-democratic forces and that his ‘solution’ for the country’s woes relies on decidedly extraconstitutional means. If the certain political parties are suddenly so convinced by Qadri’s demagogic rhetoric, then they have a moral responsibility to quit the government. If not, they should disavow Qadri as a dangerous threat to democracy.

Qadri’s proposal is to have a caretaker, technocratic government that would be selected by a combination of the political parties, the military and the judiciary. As pleasing as this idea of consensus sounds, it would be strictly in violation of the Constitution. The process for appointing a caretaker government is carefully laid out in the Constitution and the power to do so rests within the domain of democratic politics, with the responsibility lying with the president and not outside forces. When certain political parties ignore the limitations of the Constitution, they are doing so knowingly and should be roundly castigated for that.

The process

Meanwhile, the Qadri phenomenon still needs to be explained. His appearance was too sudden to be explained as a natural reaction to disappointment in democracy or the performance of the current government. One popular theory is that the military, having first given Imran Khan a nudge, has now shifted its allegiance to Qadri since it realises that the PTI’s electoral prospects have dimmed. If this is the case, then it makes the actions of the certain political parties even worse since they are propping up the most profoundly anti-democratic force in the country and showing that they haven’t learned from their previous support for military regimes. All the chatter surrounding military backing for Qadri is also a worrying sign that the military intends to influence the upcoming general elections. This would be a death blow from which our nascent democracy may never recover.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 2nd, 2013.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • Z.Khan
    Jan 2, 2013 - 1:23AM

    Not sure the ET editorial staff will be able to digest my comments as couple of days ago some thing similar thrown in dustbin. Very serious analysis of Dr Qadri speeches clearly indicates non implementation of certain constitutional clauses since long. Similarly presence of large number of people in his rallies indicates their tiredness from the status quo, which, if current election system continues without suggested reforms, is likely to prevail. US and UK who remain deeply involved in Pakistani affairs are neither happy with PPP nor with PML (N). Similar feelings Pakistani military brass also has. Appreciating the situation correctly, iron has been hit by all aforementioned stake holders when it is really hot. Since Sheikul Islam carries respect due to his religious knowledge, liberal views and has tremendous oratory abilities so can be called a right man imported at right time to do the right job.
    Biggest blunder what PPP and PML (N) committing by not taking the threat seriously. So for only broad brush tactics has been used and that too in joker style. Siding of MQM with TQ, meeting of TQ with PML (Q) soft corner by PTI for TQ, all are dangerous signals indicating some thing fishy propping up.
    To me following urgent actions are required by PPP and PML (N).
    1. Ask the collation partners what are their grievances. Try to resolve these. Most probably Mr Rehman Malik already left to meet MQM Chief in London. Similar thing is required for PML (Q) also. Threatening tactics might not work at this stage as being used by Ahamd Mukhtar or Sharjeel Memon.
    2. Both major parties urgently to decide and announce the election schedule.
    3. Practically incorporate some reforms to bring forward news faces in forthcoming election.
    4. Urgently decide at least the care taker PM.

    In case both parties, in the light of above suggestions start taking the threat seriously will puncture the Qadri bloom. However if comedy/threatening attitude continues than might be 0n 14.01.2013 nation has to face a bigger comedy/tragedy.

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  • sabi
    Jan 2, 2013 - 2:32AM

    Usually there is one cat,which comes out of bag.But in this land of pure there are many cats,black,white.Irani,japani, suddenly out of bags for power.Let us hope there are as many hounds to chase these cats.

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  • Feroz
    Jan 2, 2013 - 6:28AM

    Leaders have called the Constitution a scrap of paper that can be thrown in the bin. No wonder the Constitution today resembles a soiled and crumpled waste paper. The Constitution has never stopped usurpers from grabbing Power illegally and the icing on the cake is that the Judiciary which was supposed to uphold the Constitution was in reality an accomplice to its torching. With this history it is natural that Constitutional niceties are never going to come in the way of usurpers wanting to impose themselves.
    Any caretaker government can hold office and oversee day to day functioning but can never take decisions that an elected Government can. Social engineering and Political gamesmanship is not the mandate of any care taker government. Pakistan has a nasty habit of playing with fire and getting burnt by it. Hope sanity prevails.

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  • Wellwisher
    Jan 2, 2013 - 8:09AM

    @Z.Khan:
    All the mainstream political parties must join to make the country a Secular country. Then most of the problems will be solved automatically one by one. The Election campaign period should be utilized to educate the public about the benefits of secularism.

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  • Jehangir Mari
    Jan 2, 2013 - 8:52AM

    A Pakistani Gandhi has emerged in the form of Dr. Tahir. Before Gandhi was the constitution of the Britishers; before Dr. Tahir is the constitution of the feudals. The survival & viability of the state of Pakistan is more important than the feudal/capitalist constitution?

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  • toticalling
    Jan 2, 2013 - 10:30AM

    The changes required to improve must be done by an elected government and not by non represetentative organisations. People should be encouraged to vote for refomist parties and those who do not get support from Mullahs. But the bottom line is democracy learns to get mature by experience and not by likes of Qadri who have lived in democratic Canada and not learned anythimng fgrom it.

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  • Ricky
    Jan 2, 2013 - 11:07AM

    @Jehangir Mari:
    Comparing Gandhi with Qadri is like apples and oranges. Gandhi was never a religious leader while Qadri is yet another religious leader in Pakistan. In addition Gandhi gave up all his belongings and lifestyle and not protected by bullet proof caravan of expensive vehicles and militants.
    In Egypt there was total dictatorship and no hope for independent elections for decades. Courts, army and govt were all the same for several decades to no end. In Pakistan every political force approves of constitution and the elections are on the horizon. These new horses should go out and try their luck in elections.
    Actually the editorial is clear and balanced. There is an alliance of forces that were always with dictators and came into power by backdoor. It is not surprising that when one horse from the establishment was not enough another has been added to the cart. Yet they don’t realize these forces can stop the elections but cannot win it.

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  • Lala Gee
    Jan 2, 2013 - 11:28AM

    @Editor:

    Your commitment with the Constitution and democratic system is commendable. However, I am unable to understand how the demand for implementing the Constitutional clauses in the true spirit is unconstitutional and a threat to democracy. You also seem to have no concussions for dynastic politics in the guise of democracy and passing on the leadership of ruling party through will, as you didn’t raise any questions while showing your concerns for the democracy, which is only possible through observing true democratic norms. You can make believe none but only yourself that the present political parties are democratic in any sense and exist to serve the country and its people, rather like-minded groups of white collar crooks ganged together to embezzle the national wealth into their own pockets.

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  • Jan 2, 2013 - 3:59PM

    Qadri’s proposal is to have a caretaker, technocratic government that would be selected by a combination of the political parties, the military and the judiciary.

    Why a caretaker government is required ? The answer is — That election can be hold under the an un biased Govt./ executive. Dr. Qadari’s stand is that every stake holders should have say in the caretaker government. His proposal includes Judiciary and the military to in the care taker govt. ( Army and Judiciary are not required and not mandated to govern a country even for a small period of say 90 days). There is no rationale for their inclusion.. Now His demand to include the smaller parties too in caretaker government. what will be their job as assumed by Dr. Qadri is not clarified. ? Also how can you expect that the so called stake holders in the caretaker government will remain unbiased in the election process.? Caretaker government ‘s tenure is limited till holding the election therefore this government can not take any policy decision, can not enact a legislation , pass any ordinance, doll out any social welfare scheme etc.. Democracy represents the mandate of people ( believed supreme ) by majority. Hence the ruling coalition and the opposition ( coalition ) deserve the say in caretaker government.
    Electoral reforms be listed out debated in the Parliament , in the media , debated by participation of public at large and thereafter be approved in line with the constitution.

    But just giving a small time frame for electoral reforms and impose the wishes termed as electoral reforms ( assumed to be righteous) is nothing but a political stunt. The only apprehension is about the derailment of democracy which if happened will be very sad for the nation. Harming of democracy has been done in the name of democracy only.

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  • Abdul Waheed Zafar Rana
    Jan 2, 2013 - 6:32PM

    I fully endorse the Idea of elections under Constitution but the Constitution which Dose Not protect the Basic rights of the people is a lamé Constitution. A very useful and peaceful section of the People of Pakistan has Not only been deprived of their Basic right of practicing their religius duties according To their concious but they have also been Barred from casting their vote according to their Free will and concious.. Untill and unless they are Not ingrated in the Main streem no elections will,bear fruit.

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  • Sterry
    Jan 3, 2013 - 2:00AM

    @Z.Khan: I am not sure if you are able to digest these comments but you need to understand that Tahirul Qadri is only going to bring chaos and anarchy to the country. Instead of working within the system and allowing fair elections to take place on time, he wants to play the role of spoiler to appease his own sense of megalomania. This fellow ran off to Canada but he would never dare try this type of antic in Canada because he knows Canada runs by laws and a constitution. Tahirul Qadri has not learned anything in Canada obviously. If he tried his blackmail of long march to the capital to disrupt things in Ottawa, they would simply throw him in jail. Somehow he thinks he can run to Canada, live quietly, get Canadian citizenship, brainwash simple religious people there to give him money and then run back to Pakistan to create anarchy and make himself some type of messiah. On top of that, a party which is affiliated with the government, the MQM is supporting him! How can a coalition partner support a march on the capital? I am very disappointed that the authorities in Pakistan haven’t just arrested this guy and deported him to Canada where he has been hiding the last few years

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