Fatehyab is an icon for the young generation
The legendary Pakistani politician Fatehyab Ali Khan (1936-2010) was born in Hyderabad, India. He was of Rajput descent and led movements for democracy during successive martial law eras that have stained the history of Pakistan. After Bhutto’s judicial murder he advised and represented Nusrat Bhutto. He was a friend of their murdered daughter former two-time prime minister Benazir Bhutto. Handwritten notes sent by her about secret meetings during the agitation they mounted against Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s are nestled somewhere in a treasure trove of resistance related documents that Fatehyab has left behind. His odium for successive despotic governments and the corrupt judiciary – which repeatedly destroyed Pakistan’s democracy – meant that he chose a life of asceticism and renounced material wealth. Coupled with his gravitation towards simplicity, his passion for advocating the human rights causes of the common people of Pakistan meant that in his politics he ironically resembled more closely the great pre-partition leaders whose connections to the poor were rather profound.
Fatehyab was a grassroots politician. His politics represented an ideology linked to empowering the voiceless masses. Even so, his weighty writings and reflections on the Constitution are largely unpublished but we hope to publish them in due course. Speaking to the members of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) in a session chaired by Dr Masuma Hasan on 1 October 2016, Senate chairman Raza Rabbani said: “Today we find that we are where Fatehyab left us and have not progressed after that. Article 6 of the Constitution failed to bring a culprit, a former head of state, to book, and allowed him to leave the country.” Last year while addressing the members of PIIA, Mr IA Rehman, Secretary-General, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, remarked: “Fatehyab Ali Khan was the brightest star in the galaxy of progressive politicians.”
Coverage and reportage from our event can be found below. Continue reading
Originating in the works of Henry de Bracton and William Blackstone, the doctrine of necessity has plagued Pakistan’s history and M Munir CJ has rightly been labelled “the destroyer of democracy in Pakistan”. From that perspective, the doctrine of necessity will never get stale in Pakistan’s history. To be sure, our country has, through its law courts, which ought to have protected democratic virtue but opted to fall into despotic vice, set unparalleled standards for venality by being the first free nation to apply “the doctrine” to murder democracy in its nascency. In this old post from the archives, our friend Dr Reeza Hameed, examines the extension of the doctrine to Sri Lanka and we are grateful to him for his contribution to our blog. His article, which also analyses the case of Pakistan, follows below.
The government has claimed that it has a mandate from the people to implement its manifesto promise to convene a constituent assembly consisting of the members of parliament to formulate and promulgate a new constitution, that will derive its form and validity from the expression of the political will of the people and that the proposed constitution will strengthen democracy by abolishing the executive Presidency and replacing it with a Cabinet and the doctrine of necessity and Kelsen’s theory of pure law have been pressed into service to support the introduction of a constitution outside the framework of the 1978 Constitution. Continue reading
Pakistan is currently abuzz with a political scandal that threatens to destabilize the civilian government and cause further tensions between the military and civilian leaderships. Rather than let the controversy play out in the media, the Pakistani government should launch a full-scale inquiry into the matter.
Dubbed ‘memo-gate’, the scandal surrounds a memo that was allegedly drafted by Pakistan’s civilian leadership and delivered by Pakistani-American businessman, Mansoor Ijaz, to former Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, following Osama Bin Laden’s assassination in Abbottabad, Pakistan on May 2.
In the memo, which has now been released by Foreign Policy magazine, the Pakistani civilian leadership, fearful of a military takeover, allegedly requests the assistance of the US government to prevent a coup.
In exchange it offers cooperation on a range of national security issues, including the reshuffling of top national security positions, the extradition of remaining militants in Pakistan (such as Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Mullah Omar and Sirajuddin Haqqani) and the elimination of the ‘S’ wing of the ISI (Pakistan’s intelligence agency), which purportedly deals directly with various militant outfits. Continue reading
There is a consensus in the country that the army should have no role in politics and that the military high command should be under the control of the highest political leadership. And there are no two opinions about the fact that there should be democracy in the country. However, there are different opinions about the kind of democratic setup that we should have and the manner in which the setup should operate. But there is no difference of opinion that the people should have the right to elect their government in a fair and transparent manner.
A constitution is the fundamental law of the land, and the basic framework for governance. The statutes must conform to the superior norms contained in the constitution. Pakistan’s rulers have not only amended the constitution but have hoodwinked the people by introducing far-reaching changes in the statutes such as the Political Parties Act, the Representation of People’s Act and Qanoon-i-Shahadat, thereby altering the superior law of the constitution itself.
After the departure of Nawaz Sharif and suspension of the Constitution by General Musharraf, political parties in the opposition have been demanding restoration of the constitutional structure existing prior to October 12, 1999. At the same time, they have been describing it as the unanimous Constitution of 1973. These parties should tell the people in clear words which constitution they want to be restored, because before October 12, 1999, it was not the unanimous Constitution of 1973 but Ziaul Haq’s constitution which was in force. Compare the two documents — the unanimously adopted Constitution of 1973 and the constitution as it stood in 1985 — and the extent to which Ziaul Haq had mutilated the 1973 Constitution becomes clearly evident. Continue reading