Stories about constitution

The logic (or lack thereof) behind the Protection of Pakistan Act 2014

The Protection of Pakistan Bill 2014 has been honoured with the presidential seal and is now officially the Protection of Pakistan Act 2014. We are told it is ‘an extraordinary law for an extraordinary situation’, having the validation of a strong legislature. That the act is a repressive law, impinging upon the fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution is a settled matter, discussion whereof is now futile and can be equated with banging ones head against a wall. What we should discuss, however, is the thinking or logic which led our lawmakers providing legal sanction to such flagitious police practices as detention on ...

Read Full Post

Has our parliament been reduced to liquor, hashish and immorality?

We all remember the incident when the former defence minister outrageously slept through while the former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani was addressing the parliament. It was hard for everyone who saw this spectacle to understand what substance or issue could possibly have made him doze off like that, during such an important address. However, to everyone’s surprise, the parliamentary session on February 27, 2014 had the answer to this. A member of the National Assembly (MNA), Jamshed Ahmad Khan Dasti, representing Muzaffargarh, Punjab, deciphered the mystery behind this. He discovered the substance that caused this to happen. Dasti addressed his fellow parliamentarians a few days back ...

Read Full Post

Is there a need for peace talks?

The Government of Pakistan has been notified by the Mohmand Agency group of the Taliban that they have killed 23 Frontier Corps (FC) soldiers who were kidnapped four years ago from Shongari checkpost in Mohmand Agency. It is ironic that this incident took place during ‘peace talks’, with both sides hinting at the prospect of a positive outcome within a few days. Ironic? Unexpected? While flipping through TV channels a few days ago, I realised that all I could see was that certain militant outfits had somehow managed to win the media war against the State of Pakistan. The only thing I seemed to have come across continuously were ...

Read Full Post

The right to write: Denied!

Journalism – a profession of disseminating news – has attained the status of an endangered profession globally. Incidents of violence and state sponsored prosecution attempts against journalists have become a de jure way of life for many. Prosecution and persecution to some degree, comes with the territory, if you will. This is unfortunate considering the burden that falls on a journalist’s shoulders. On January 29, 2014, there were several news stories of the Egyptian government’s decision to file charges against 20 journalists working with Al Jazeera on the pretext of risking national security. In my opinion, suppressing the voice of one journalist is akin to suppressing the ...

Read Full Post

Bilawal spoke against the militants, he has the blood of the Bhuttos of Larkana!

Time does not heal all wounds and this has been the case with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). It can neither forget its scars nor can time heal them because this party – the party of martyrs – has come face-to-face with various tragedies over the past few decades. PPP’s leaders were hanged, they were sent to the gallows, were exiled and were executed judicially. However, in spite of all the persecutions by the state authorities, PPP remained committed to its basic principle of democracy. Since its very inception, this party has been struggling to inculcate a democratic society and a democratic ...

Read Full Post

Will Musharraf’s treason trial help democracy in Pakistan?

Dictators and enemies of democracy would do well to listen to the great Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda’s advice,  “You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot keep spring from coming.” It was more than a decade after the country’s first democratically elected popular leader, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was hanged by a dictator that his daughter, Benazir Bhutto returned with an impressive mandate. Today, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has returned to the political driving seat after a decade, with almost a clear majority while the dictator who ousted him from power, lingers in a sub-jail. In an unprecedented move, Prime Minister Sharif’s government has initiated a case of high ...

Read Full Post

Article 25-A: What does the ‘free’ in ‘right to free education’ imply?

Pakistan faces many challenges today, but education is one of the biggest. It includes huge disparities in terms of opportunities, particularly for girls and the rural population. There are also the issues of poor quality of education, low enrollment and high drop-out rates. Reportedly, over 25 million children between five and 16 years of age are out of school. This fact points to the emerging and critical social imbalance of education, even as a fundamental right. Article 25-A, the Right to Education, was inserted in the chapter of the fundamental rights of the Constitution as part of the Eighteenth Amendment. ...

Read Full Post

Capital punishment in Pakistan’s legal system: Where is the justice?

During 2007-2012, Pakistan executed 171 death penalties and sentenced 1,497 prisoners to death. We compete with countries like Iraq and Iran; both countries do not principally champion human rights. We only have China to beat. If it offers any comfort, there is a great deal of ground to cover. In 2008, the president of Pakistan announced a moratorium. After that, death sentences were given but not executed. Last year Muhammad Husain’s execution in Mianwali Jail brought an end to the restraint the government had observed. At present, Pakistan hands down capital punishment for 27 different crimes. The code of conduct of the Bar of England ...

Read Full Post

Legalising non-customs paid vehicles

Recently, the federal government announced the registration of smuggled vehicles from Afghanistan through special packages with the objective of legalising the non-customs paid vehicles. However, all quarters have denounced the decision, saying that duty on such vehicles is an open violation of Articles 246 and 247 of the Constitution under which the Malakand division has been exempted from taxes. It has been learnt from government sources that the imposition of taxes, of up to Rs15 billion, will generate sizeable revenues for revenue collection. The federal government is also of the opinion that the nominal announced package of payment, for the owners of ...

Read Full Post

From the dark and dreary world of a journalist

Working for a newspaper tends to change a person. I’ve yet to figure out if it’s for the better. I do know that the few odd months before I started working here I was a different person in many ways. These are not only changes you see when you look at yourself in the mirror – the few times you do look in the mirror because the first thing that seems to go is your sense of self-worth – but traits and mannerisms which others point out did not exist before. I don’t know if other newspapers follow the same rule ...

Read Full Post