God helps those who help themselves. Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani has strictly followed this principle while advising his fellow parliamentarians to protect themselves. “You should protect yourself. You should protect the parliament”.
Sanest advice indeed! If the largest repository of public confidence and mandate, the parliament, can’t protect itself, it would amount to a breach of trust with the masses who are the sovereign power of any land and to whom every institution of the country is – and should be – answerable. This is what is meant by democracy and nothing else.
Democracy has no meaning other than the supremacy of the people of a country. Those who say that the parliament is supreme or the constitution is supreme, must keep in mind that the parliament is founded on people’s popular will and the constitution is the sum total of people’s aspirations and mutually agreed principles of social, economic and political interaction. As for the edge enjoyed by the parliament, all over the democratic world, it only owes to one fact that it is the supreme representative body of the will of the masses. Therefore, protection of the parliament is, by all means, protection of democracy.
And here is where we need to make the right and timely choices, as declared by the prime minister on the floor of the house. Certainly, the time has now come for the nation – and even the national institutions – to decide whether they stand for democracy or dictatorship. Why are we trying to move back to square one by pushing the country into a political quagmire, glorifying intervention by undemocratic forces or by the quarters that aren’t allowed to do so by the constitution.
Any self-aggrandising moves aimed at disturbing the equilibrium of trichotomy of powers will only have a regressive effect. Is it just for the sake of grabbing power prior to the completion of mandated period from the elected representatives? If that is the motive, then why not move an amendment for reducing the tenure of a parliament from five years to four, as suggested by the prime minister?
Why can’t the parliamentarians, even if they be staunch opponents of President Zardari, PM Gilani and PPP, take to a constitutional course, as they have given an oath of allegiance to the people of Pakistan with whom they are connected through a democratic system? Even if these politicians from the PML(N) and its allies are so restless about coming into power, they should not glorify any moves which will weaken the parliament. They will have to be discreet in their actions and statements. Any hasty move, backed by undemocratic, unconstitutional means, to remove the president and/or the prime minister would serve their personal motives but would cause colossal damage to democracy and, thus, to the country.
It must be noted that emphasis is being given placed on constitutional means at this juncture. For sure, taking recourse to unconstitutional means would spell disaster for the country which has already experienced many ugly things in the form of undemocratic rule for decades, ‘judicial murder’ (as declared by hundreds of eminent jurists of the world) of a popularly elected prime minister and forced ousters and dismissals of governments through legal doctrines and legal framework machinations in the midst of their mandated tenures. All members of the parliament must heed the PM’s advice and rise above personal likes and dislikes to save the system and maintain the balance. If the government goes in an unceremonious manner that defies the constitution, it will not be the fall of PPP, Zardari or Gilani but it will be the fall of the parliament which strictly implies the fall of democracy.
There is not an iota of doubt in Gilani’s statement that he is seeking the support of his fellow parliamentarians only for protecting the parliament which means their own (i.e. the parliamentarians’ and the electorate’s) protection.
‘If, however, some catastrophe befell, we won’t go begging (for our survival) and bowing before anyone. We’ll, in that case, prefer to go to the masses’. Now these words of the PM on the floor of the house convey a highly assuring message to the masses who have been ‘maltreated’ by a number of wiseacres among some political and media segments in the shape of unfair interpretations and disinformation. Now is the time to say goodbye to the undemocratic and unconstitutional attitudes that have continued to haunt us.
The parliament (meaning thereby the majority of parliamentarians) should lend full support to the resolution tabled in the National Assembly by ANP leader, Asfandyar Wali Khan, because at no point, the resolution questions the role and powers of any national institution, what to talk of challenging the authority of any of these institutions. And, moreover, the resolution is only a move to protect and strengthen the parliament which means strengthening of the entire democratic system. And by the system is meant the entire network of all the pillars of the state.