With the recent twist and turns of events inside Pakistan, the following scenarios have lined up today:-
- Tahir Ul Qadri’s long march has reached Islamabad and claims to dissolve Provincial and National Assemblies have been made.
- Governor rule in Quetta has been imposed due to the recent attacks on Hazara Community and the “Don’t care” attitude of the CM.
- Tehreek-e-Insaaf leader Imran Khan has put forward his 7-points to be acted upon as soon as possible.
- Pakistan turmoil deepest as Supreme court orders to arrest the Prime Minister and his secretaries involved in the rental power case.
- India has become rigid over the control-line issue. It has even banned Pakistan Hockey players to participate in their league. Visa on border to elder citizens has also been delayed till further notice.
- The President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari has summoned a joint political session of allied parties to assess the current situation.
- Stock index 100 of Karachi Stock Market crashes by 500 points making the dollar worth Rs. 99
With these turn of events happening in just one week, if you are a Pakistani then I would suggest that you get a pack of popcorns and glue yourself to your favourite NEWS channel. Change is coming! It’s coming in fast.
The IT ministry of Pakistan for the last two years is still in process of signing the MLAT treaty which would allow them to make such requests. Had we got the treaty signed the video would have been removed from our viewing in a matter of hours. We would not have to ban YouTube at an Internet Protocol level and thus reduce Gmail and Google Play all slow and cumbersome.
One of the reasons why MLAT(Mutual legal assistance treaty) has not been signed by Pakistan Government because of Google not having a legal entity office in Pakistan which may help sign such an agreement (as per Pakistani Laws). PTA and Google already have some understanding where they can make such requests (not legal requests)
It is the same reason why the video was removed from India, Malaysis and other countries – had our govt been doing any work this treaty would have been signed – but it sadly is not
The blame game is not on Google for the MLAT but the Govt of Pakistan.
By Parveen Tarique
Given the state of the land of the pure where there is no water, electricity, gas, no law and order, and the army gets caught in the crosshairs of snipers and militants, and fall like nine pins, the powers that be are pushing for bills, like the contempt bill and the proposed dual nationality bill. Reports indicate that the contempt bill has sailed through, and dual nationality has the parliamentarians, and the elite class wondering what all the fuss is about. While the common citizen wonders what sin s/he has committed to be deprived of the basic necessities of life.
However, history tells us that in 1951, The Pakistan Citizenship Act underwent amendments, because the original Act appeared incomplete, so the Pakistan Citizenship Rules 1952 were introduced. In 1971 Pakistan and Bangladesh separated and citizenship needed to be readdressed again for that time, and Kashmir an ongoing conflict, needed to be addressed in the Act as well. And amendments are still taking place.
Since independence, several changes in the Pakistani nationality law have come about because of the growth of expatriate Pakistani communities in the Middle East, Europe and North America. Dual citizenship was not permitted under the 1951 law, but now the Government of Pakistan recognizes and allows citizens to hold citizenship of 16 countries which are, UK, Italy, France, Belgium, Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Ireland, Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and the land of opportunity USA.
Fast forward to the recent scenario; had a move not been made against Farahnaz Isphani, media advisor to President Asif Ali Zardari, Hussain Haqqani’s wife, as being a dual national, Pakistan and USA, and a MNA to boot, perhaps things might have been different. But, then the news, that our man for all seasons, Mr. Rehman Malik, is also a dual national, in this case Pakistan and UK was revealed, and with all the stories he spun, he has not given up his British passport. Slowly all hell is breaking loose, with conspiracy theories making the round. (Recent reports indicate that he has given up his UK nationality and has been ‘elected’ to the Senate from Sindh.)
Article 63(1) (c) of our Constitution, clearly disqualifies a person from being elected and from being a member of the Parliament, if “he ceases to be a citizen of Pakistan or acquires the citizenship of a foreign state.” Disqualification on this ground is part of our 1973 Constitution. The argument put forth is that one cannot wear two hats. You are either loyal to the country of your origin, or to the country whose citizenship you have acquired by swearing on the Bible to allegiance to the Queen, or the star spangled banner as the case maybe, and also take up arms in case of war.
Decades ago, Pakistan experienced brain drain, with our best bidding adieu to their families and moving to greener pastures. They settled there, and remitted money back home. Some came back, could not adjust, and went back. Some refer to the dual nationality, Pakistan-UK, as a soft stance on UK’s part, since monies; big monies are being transferred to its shores. And should things turn dicey here they can easily high tail it to the country whose passport they have. Things couldn’t be better for the dual nationals; they have butter on both sides of their bread and still crave for more.
Those who belong to the upper class, the elitist amongst us, say why not. Those who are dual nationals have their own agenda. They want to sit in the Houses of Parliament, enjoy all the trappings, and stash their ‘hard earned money’ abroad. Here they don’t bother about paying taxes, pull all the strings they can, and if they sneeze three times they zoom off to get themselves checked. They lord it over us common citizens, not realizing that we are the backbone of this country. We till the soil, thereby helping to generate crops, take up backbreaking jobs and help to sustain all, and receive thanks occasionally.
One argument between the lines is that such persons, who are vying to become parliamentarians, and privy to various state secrets, should be permitted to do so. The logic behind this thought is that should such a situation arise with another country, these dual nationals would be a great help at the negotiating table. Another argument making the round is that if the overseas Pakistanis have the right to vote, therefore they should be allowed to contest elections to become parliamentarians. This argument has elicited pro and against arguments, evident in the writings of our learned columnists.
Not too long ago, Moeen Qureshi and Shaukat Aziz, both holders of dual nationality were Prime Ministers. Where was the Election Commission then? Granted that Moeen Qureshi was the caretaker Prime Minister who was flown in, and flew out once the job was done, but what about Shaukat Aziz who also flew in? The million dollar question is, why the Supreme Court has at this point of time, issued a wake up call to the Election Commission to examine papers thoroughly. Why now? Is it to point out that the Election Commission has been sleeping on the job, or were behind the scene strings pulled? Has the scenario changed so drastically that there are fears, that God forbid could undermine the sovereignty of this land of ours? That somebody, somewhere will sell us under the table? However, another notable writer fears that those parliamentarians/elitists, who support the dual nationality bill, would be responsible for placing the country under a defacto foreign rule. Then there are those who argue that Pakistan has already been given ‘thakay par’ (on contract) to Uncle Sam, and they argue that the question of defacto rule is already in place.
However, back to the expats, one cannot doubt the financial contribution made by the expats who of late expect the doors of elected office to be open for them. Thanks to globalization, and considerable movement of people across borders in search of better opportunities, nationality and identity have become relatively less rigid, posing the question, why does one assume that they have turned their back on the homeland. Dual nationality has stirred up a hornet’s nest, and some are getting stung, and arguments to and for are continuing in the print media and the electronic media. Who will win is anybody’s guess.
-The author is a former news editor of a leading English daily
A rethinking of the contempt law and the contempt
philosophy is required. The government’s attempt to reform the
legislation has been a thoroughly incompetent exercise, aimed only at
safeguarding its political interests at the expense of molesting the law
When pushed into a corner, people frequently do stupid things. With a few balls remaining and a huge total to chase in a cricket match, the batsmen end up slogging foolishly. Having lost all his earnings, the gambler bets the house on the last hand. It turns out that governments are no different from people, in this regard.
With an abominable record of corrupt governance, a combative Supreme Court, a prime minister dismissed for contempt, and another one facing similar prospects, the government has resorted (as a last measure) to absolute ridiculousness. In a move that is hard to explain through law or logic, the federal government has passed the Contempt of Court Act, 2012 (hereinafter “Act”).
Harsh? Perhaps. But looking at the concerned Act in some detail will vindicate this statement on two fronts: legal and principle.
From a purely legalistic perspective, the Act suffers from several deficiencies. To begin with, section 3 of the Act, having collapsed the distinctions between ‘civil’, ‘criminal’ and ‘judicial’ contempt (fair enough), stipulates that actions of a “public office holder” in “exercise of powers and performance of functions” (under Article 248(1) of the Constitution) shall “not amount to commission of contempt of court”. In simpler words, the president, the prime minister, the chief ministers, the governors along with federal and provincial cabinet members, while exercising the ‘powers and functions’ of their office, shall not be liable for contempt of court. And in this regard, the protection is sought through Article 248(1), which states that these functionaries “shall not be answerable to any court for the exercise of powers and performance of functions of their respective offices.”
The fact that protection of Article 248(1) is rarely invoked is instructive; the purpose of this provision in the Constitution is to ensure that judicial proceedings against the federal or provincial governments do not spill over to individually target the public-officials in charge of carrying out the executive authority.
Away from this, the Act, by carving out a category of individuals who are ‘above’ the law of contempt, arguably violates Article 25 of the Constitution (Discrimination). Furthermore, it also revolts against Article 5(2) of the Constitution, which makes “obedience to the Constitution and law” (including judgments of the court) an “inviolable” duty of “every citizen” (including the prime minister and his cabinet).
And perhaps most pertinently, the new Contempt of Court Act vitiates the spirit of Article 204 (the very Article under which it has been drafted), which gives the court the power to punish “any person” (with no exceptions) who commits contempt. In this regard, the Act has already been challenged before the apex court, and the nation awaits a declarative judicial pronouncement.
Perhaps more nefariously, however, the Act indulges in another (procedural) exercise: it takes pains in constructing a prolonged process of appeal against a contempt verdict, suspending the order during the pendency, and requiring the constitution of a ‘larger bench’ in certain circumstances. All this has been drafted with one goal in mind: if the legislation survives the judicial review, it will ensure that the present PPP regime, and its prime minister, limp through a protracted court process (having not written the Swiss letter), to somehow make it through the tail-end of the parliament’s term.
Turning to the ‘principles’ involved (in sad realisation of the fact that principles, unfortunately, do not play much part in our governance or jurisprudence), the PPP must be castigated for picking convenience over ideology, and marring the fabric of law in the process. By drafting a contempt law that attempts to immunise a select category of individuals, the legislature has demonstrated that defence of personalities is more sacred to the government than upholding the equal protection of law (in pursuit of a classless society).
Furthermore, our able parliament has also established that completing its term and saving the current prime minister from disqualification, through employing a protracted and unwieldy contempt procedure, is paramount to our government, even it comes at the cost of molesting the law and sacrificing its sanctity.
While on the point, it is perhaps useful to turn our attention to what is the ideology behind ‘contempt of court’, and why has it become the seed of such controversy in our land?
Outside the realm of the legal fraternity, the contempt of court law is perhaps the most recognised statutory instrument in our land, next to the Constitution. Featuring in prime minister’s disqualification, Malik Riaz’s press conference, charges against NAB and FIA chief, the case against Babar Awan… the contempt of court law has undeniably played a starring (hypersensitive?) role in our recent jurisprudence and national dialogue.
Without delving into the legality of these individual cases, it must be asked: is contempt of court merely a tool, at the disposal of the judiciary, to defend its institutional sovereignty? Is it an instrument in the hands of the judges through which they can haul-in any individual who voices dissent or questions them? Or is there a nobler ethos to the law?
The object of the law, as established by numerous authorities, it seems is two-fold: ensuring enforcement of court orders (not with the view of asserting a judge’s supremacy over others, but instead in the belief that enforcement of impartial judicial verdicts is indispensable to a free and fair society), and instilling confidence in the legal process (not in any individual judge) so as to ensure that every litigant is afforded fair and unprejudiced justice. In this spirit, the contempt proceedings have to be divorced from the personality of individual judges (who must be accountable, even critiqued, for their personal conduct).
It would be a fallacy to believe that dignity of the court can be ‘enforced’ through contempt law. Vindication of the court’s dignity (or that of any individual judge) emanates from the impartiality of its pronouncements, and not the threat of contempt proceedings.
A rethinking of the contempt law and (more importantly) the contempt philosophy is required. The government’s attempt to reform the legislation has been a thoroughly incompetent exercise, aimed only at safeguarding its political interests at the expense of molesting the law.
The legality of the Act itself is pending before the Supreme Court. As the honorable judges decide the fate of this particular legislation, it might also be beneficial for them to take this opportunity and review their approach to the doctrine of contempt, with the aim of putting the sanctity of our constitutional structure above the impulse of personal vindication.