INSIGHT AND FORESIGHT

August 13, 2014

My Exclusive Analysis for Nation. A CONSTITUTIONAL WAY OUT

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 5:06 am

A CONSTITUTIONAL WAY OUT

Successive spates of high handedness of the incumbent government have tipped balance in favour of PTI and PAT. Containerised politics have widened gulfs. Confrontation is at nadir. Hawks within PMLN perceived and called a bluff that was not. Persistence with force could only damage the incumbency. Use of assets in Punjab will be a nightmare.

Politics of confrontation is integral to PMLN style politics. Punjab or centre, they have displayed consistency in challenging institutions, federal or provincial governments, judiciary, other political parties and Chiefs of Army Staffs. This time they have to confront their own medicine from the wrong end.

PMLN thinking on firm handling confrontation is illusionary. The Ex COAS had been amenable; pressurised President Zardari to restore the Chief Justice and even looked the other way when the massive electoral rigging plan was underway. They soon regretted rejecting a COAS of General Kayani’s choice to launch a campaign against the Army and ISI.  The opposition saw the chink and exploited it.

The government stutters on a comprehensive counter terrorism policy. Instead it has a flawed framework necklaced by Anti-Terrorism Act, PPO and Article 245 of the Constitution. Fears are vindicated. The police massacre at Model Town, high handedness against PAT and PTI, containerising Punjab and Islamabad and the flimsy national security conference indicate a familiar mind-set to a point it becomes a political martyr. Unfortunately, if past is precedence, they lack the nerve at brinkmanship. The escalation has political remedies but government seems bent to reach a firebreak point. Then only extra constitutional measures will be the only solution. They are well advised to exercise constitutional mechanisms that exist aplenty and not ditch Pakistan’s politics for an indefinite period. The Prime Minister has options to go down in history as a democratic beacon. Democracy is an inclusive cake and must be shared.  

First, he should step down as the Prime Minister and use his powers as party head to pass an ordinance to audit electoral results of 2013. At the same time, Chief Minister Punjab should also step down. To ensure transparency, NADRA Chairman should be reinstated.

Secondly, all members of ECP should be non-functional during the election audit. The audit must comprise jurists and members of civil society agreed by political parties. A joint Parliamentary committee of National Assembly and Senate should exercise oversight.

Thirdly, the New Prime Minister should hold an All Parties Conference on electoral reforms, followed by an Ordinance that empowers the Electoral Reforms Commission. The commission should represent political parties, constitutional experts and representatives of oversight bodies. These reforms must include the election of special seats. A joint Parliamentary committee of National Assembly and Senate should exercise oversight.

Fourthly, all heads of regulatory bodies should be reappointed with the consent of all political parties. A joint Parliamentary committee of National Assembly and Senate should exercise oversight.

 

Fifthly, a commission should be formed to formulate constitutional reforms including separation of executive functions from the legislature. It should also review the last three constitutional amendments to build greater harmony with the provinces and the people. Issues related to religious minorities and special seats merit incisive decisions.

The entire process should be given a dead line of 90 days followed by new legislation. Assemblies should then be dissolved and elections conducted under a care taker government by April 2015.

There are many ifs and buts about his Judicial Commission.

First, such commissions in Pakistan’s history end up as delaying tactics.

Secondly, with the government in power, the conflict of interest at all levels cannot be ruled out.

Thirdly, the proposal nullifies all election petitions and some decisions that have come in favour of protesting candidates.

Fourthly, it violates Article 225 of the constitution. Parliament will have to pass an amendment to make a commission constitutionally effective.

Lastly, Judiciary itself tainted in electoral rigging is no solution.

But the Prime Minister still thinks differently. He has endorsed elections as fair and transparent. He has fudged economic indices. He has given wrong statements on economic development. He intends taking the street protests head on. Confrontation is likely to reach a new crescendo. 

http://www.nation.com.pk/columns/13-Aug-2014/a-constitutional-way-out

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