Revolution. Wait, what?

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And the wheel goes round and round…

It is hard to reconcile with what Tahirul Qadri’s long march and the consequent Islamabad Long March Declaration have accomplished. What started off as a ‘million march’ to overthrow the government, have the assemblies dissolved, disband the election commission, revamp the electoral process and rid our country of the ‘yazidiat’ has concluded with a declaration of ‘success’, without having achieved any of its stated objectives.

Before assessing its conclusion any further, may I first suggest something that has been resting uneasy with countless people across Pakistan: it is only natural that references from Islamic history make their way into our political and social discourse from time to time. And that is acceptable. But it is a travesty of Islamic ideals to take a cataclysmic event such as the Battle of Karbala, impersonating as Imam Hussain (RA) and declaring certain others to be Yazid, only to finally settle for inviting Yazid to your house, hugging him, having a cup of tea together, signing a joint declaration that gives into Yazid’s play, doing a joint press conference, and congratulating Yazid for his wonderfulness. Can we please draw a line in the sand somewhere?

Away from this terrible drama, the declaration that was finally signed between Dr Qadri and his foes incorporates four “decisions”. The first is simple and toothless: “The National Assembly shall be dissolved at any time before the 16th of March, 2013 (due date), so that the elections may take place within the 90 days.” Bravo! So Dr Qadri, who had started off with his demand of “immediately” dissolving the National Assembly has settled for just following the regular procedure of completing the term of the assemblies, and then dissolving the government, as already mandated by the constitution. No achievement here. And thus, no reason to be congratulated on.

The one caveat added to the 90-day election process, however, is that the Election Commission will take up to 30 days to “scrutinise” the eligibility of each candidate, so as to ‘pre-clear’ him or her, before such a candidate can commence the election campaign. How the election commission will do this ‘pre-clearance’, in the absence of there being a conviction as to the candidate in terms of him or her being ‘sadiq’ or ‘ameen’, is unclear. And in case the ‘pre-clearance’ is no different than the existing scrutiny adopted towards election papers, how will the process be any different than what it was previously? And a change of the campaigning time period from 90 to 60 days also seems to be purposeless because, for all intents and purposes, the election campaign starts (unofficially) much before the announcing of the 90 days and continues in force till the eve of the elections.

The second decision of the Islamabad Long March Declaration is that that upon the dissolution of the current assemblies, Dr Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehreek and the forces of Yazid will present two proposed names for the position of caretaker prime minister with “complete consensus”. From a legal perspective, this ‘decision’ is nothing more than a private arrangement (at most a contract) between private parties (the coalition parties and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek). Violation of the same has no real legal consequences for the government. And even if it is adhered to, it is unsure how the consequences will lead to a fulfillment of Dr Qadri’s statement mission and alleviation of the plight of the unfortunate many in Pakistan.

The third decision, that of concerning the composition of the Election Commission (which had been the centre-point of Dr Qadri’s rhetoric over the past month or so), is ‘yet to be decided’. Dr Qadri, who is a doctor of law, ended up agreeing with the forces of Yazid that there are ‘constitutional difficulties’ in revamping the Election Commission, and the same needs further discussion (after consultation with legal experts), which will take place on the 27 January at the Minhaj-ul-Quran office in Lahore. How magnanimous!

And finally, Dr Qadri has succeeded in making the forces of Yazid to agree to implementation of Article 62, 63 and 218(3) of the Constitution, section 77 to 82 of the Representation of People’s Act, 1976 (regarding corrupt electoral practices), the Supreme Court judgment of 8 June, 2012 – all which, by the way, the government was already legally and constitutionally bound to do. Great job!

Having achieved these monumental milestones, the media has reported that Dr Qadri is booked to travel back to Canada at the end of the month. The defining revolution of our time, one that promised to make our lives better instantly (with hour-long deadlines), is over.

Phool shaakhon pe khilne lage, tum kaho

Jaam rindon ko milne lage, tum kaho

Chak seenon ke silne lage, tum kaho

Is khule jhoot ko, zehan ki loot ko,

Main naheen maanta, main naheen jaanta.

The writer is a lawyer based in Lahore. He has a Masters in Constitutional Law from Harvard Law School. He can be reached at: [email protected]

harvard.edu

3 COMMENTS

  1. lolz….i cant believe author is studying at Harvard. looks like he doesnt have depth in the matter . he has no appreciation of the fact that it was worlds only peacfull march of its kind in such a big size of general public from all walks of life. i think the author is biased against Sunnah way of life.

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