The ‘ways’ of the lawmakers

The lawmakers are mulling to redefine Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution of Pakistan

Durdana Najam February 15, 2017
The writer is a journalist based in Lahore. She tweets @durdananajam

The lawmakers are mulling to redefine Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution of Pakistan. These two Articles came into place during the Zia regime that makes it obligatory for parliamentarians to be ‘Sadiq’ (honest) and ‘Ameen’ (trustworthy). The question remains as to what difference the amended Articles 62 and 63 have made to the general quality of leadership in Pakistan. It was just an exercise to insert a few new words, perhaps. The constitutional requirement to have truly Muslim parliamentarians could not stop the country from becoming one of the most corrupt nations in the world. Most of the parliamentarians, with a few exceptions, have been involved in financial scandals that dented the national exchequer. The taxpayers’ money was used for personal gains leaving a multitude of people to die in miserable condition due to lack of health, education and other welfare facilities that only a government could offer on a massive scale.

It reminds one of the fake degrees parliamentarians presented to the election commission to get into the August House with the sheer responsibility to serve the people of Pakistan. It also reminds one of the fake tax receipts and false property details of lawmakers. Not only are parliamentarians corrupt there is a range of bureaucrats who have built empires by faking around the very people and system they had pledged to provide benefit.

When the Senate passed the 21st constitutional amendment for setting up the military courts in January 2015, Senator Raza Rabbani said he had voted for the amendment against his conscience. But Rabbani never cried over the pathetic functioning of the civilian courts in the country or the lacklustre performance of the police, prosecution and judicial system that strengthened the hands of the culprits and elites alike and has weakened the ability of the state to provide justice. Such is the conscience of most of the parliamentarians. They would condemn injustice but would do little to make justice accessible.

It was in 1985 when Ziaul Haq, applying his relentless drive to contour the country into religious mores, changed the nature of the Constitution. Not a bad prognosis. But does it work today?

The clamour for democracy, said to be the best revenge, and better than any military dictatorship has failed to give us a committed leadership. Even though we are about to have two consecutive governments completing their electoral period, the crisis of dishonesty, corruption and shady political systems has not passed. Unless of course democracy is allowed to come out of the smokescreen behind which our politicians carry on their activities unsuspected, genuine economic development and effective political institutions could remain elusive.

The Panama case is a reflection of malice that runs deep. However, the handling of this malice in courts by the incumbent government is another malice that runs deeper. What exactly is this malice?

It is a shroud hatched carefully to hide the immoral and the evil. It is a calculated cover that hides the rot of dishonesty.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 16th, 2017.

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