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Democratic Norms

01 April, 2008

By Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd)


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Musharraf has been too often castigated for being a dictator, imposing a one-man rule and acting beyond the constitutional authority, by the black coats, the politicians and the media. Therefore, with the change to the democratic rule one naturally expects the new rulers to govern strictly in accordance with the rules of the business and law of the land. Or, else the people not finding any change in the practices heretofore will not only be disillusioned but also soon disappointed. The new rulers, probably in their euphoric flurry for the victory, have overlooked and trespassed on a few occasions which they must guard against in future. These were:

1. On being elected the leader of the house – Mr. Yusaf Raza Gilani (YRG) said that the first thing he would order would be the release of the judges. He had very correctly used the words ‘would order’- as he could not order it there and then on the floor of the house in any capacity unless he had been sworn as the PM of the country which was two to three days away. However, the Jialas, understandably ignorant of the law but surprisingly the Black Coats led by Aitezaz Ahsan , supposed to be the most knowledgeable in such legal matters, interpreted the ‘would order’ to ‘have been ordered’ and took the law in their own hands to ‘free’ the ex-CJP. The same evening Mohtarma Tehmina Daultana, in her characteristic vigorous manner was seen on a private TV channel asserting further that the CJP was not only free but would also sit in his chamber the next morning to hold his court there. Tehmina was obviously ignorant of the legalities involved and proven wrong. The point is, when the CJP had suffered incarceration of five and half months another two or three days would have not mattered much for the proper legal course of action to take place. Freeing’ the CJP in such a manner was a trespassing on the part of some one.
2. On 24th evening Mr. YRG used an official chartered aircraft to make a dash to Karachi for the wedding of his son there and return to Islamabad the next day. Naturally there must be quite a few others too on the free joyride. In what capacity did he use the official aircraft before becaming the PM of the country? Who authorised him and others with him to do so? Can the democratically elected leaders squander the tax payers money on their such private trips? It was again a trespassing and transgression of authority – an authority which was ironically not even as yet bestowed upon him/them.
3. The way the MNA elect Jialas, the august invitees in the visitors’ galleries and the media men jeered and booed during the proceedings of the very first inaugural session of the national assembly – much to the apparent helplessness of the Honourable Speaker - leaves much to be desired from them Let the new political culture of compromise and co-operation for the betterment of the country promised by the political parties and their leaders be visible and seen during the proceedings of the assemblies. It wasn’t there on the 24th and the dignity of the house was missing. It was a case of transgression of belittling the authority of the Honourable Speaker.
The nation wants democracy to flourish in the country with dignity. The nation wants the Rule of Law. It is now for the leaders to nurture it properly with decorum and grace. Let it not be said that we did not prove equal to the task.

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