Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief and leader of Minhaj-ul-Quran Dr Tahirul Qadri (aka #TUQ) is landing in Islamabad, Pakistan on Monday 23 June. There’s an expectation of his being arrested or a government-party workers showdown. Our guest blogger Barrister Ameer Abbas Ali Khan looks at the ways #TUQ is using to further his objectives – at the cost of constitution and law.
Update on Sunday afternoon: #TUQ’s last tweet before EK02 takeoff from London to Dubai
Hope is a beautiful thing. It is beautiful because it drives people to carry on with their journeys even when there appears to be no light at the end of tunnel; it is beautiful because it doesn’t let people cloud their judgments and enable them to make rationale decisions even in the toughest of the times; it is beautiful because even in extreme circumstances it still allows people to differentiate between right and wrong, good and evil.
Let us not lose hope and focus on real issues at hands. Let us ask the government to explain why there was such a security lapse at Karachi airport knowing very well the capacity of its enemy and apparently there was intelligence reports as well warning of such an incident; let us ask the government to identify and punish those who are responsible for such a security lapse; let us identify those who are responsible for the deaths of eight people near a cold storage facility at Karachi airport after that militant attack; let us sue those for manslaughter/ murder who have been negligent resulting in the deaths of innocent people; let us sue the government for compensation for all the victims of the Karachi incident; let us find out the real cause leading to the deaths of eight and injuring of 100 people in Model Town Lahore incident; let us find out if police used excessive force against the protestors; let us find out who Gullu Butt is and how many like him are out there in the society and let us sue police for blatantly allowing Gullu Butt to act like a goon right in front of its nose. And, most important of all, let us not forget about the ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ operation and ensure that we must act with responsibility to avoid any unforeseen circumstances that may prove catastrophic for Pakistan.
Yes, indeed it involves long-winded procedures in addressing the above issues but, unfortunately, there is no other way except to follow due law and procedure because that’s the right way; the legal and constitutional way – the Quaid’s way.
The Jinnah’s way
Though we claim to get inspiration from Jinnah and want to see Jinnah’s Pakistan, the manner in which Dr Tahirul Qadri wants to achieve his objectives is not the one that Jinnah has always preached for.
The legal and constitutional ways do take a lot of time and entail lengthy procedures but that’s the only way to ensuring social justice and shaping our society on the principles of equality and fairness. Such procedures are there to ensure transparency otherwise anyone could come forward challenging an individual’s vision over others and that could lead to utter chaos.
No matter what situation there was for Jinnah to face, he always advocated for the constitutional way and that’s the reason he was opposed to Gandhi’s philosophy of non-cooperation.
Where Jinnah used his constitutional right to object to Rowlatt Act 1919, he also tried to make that sense into Gandhi and also stressed upon him that before going for the non-cooperation movement people needed to be educated and their maturity to be ensured. Gandhi did not heed to Quaid’s constitutional way and history witnessed that not following the constitutional way brought some painful results.
No doubt, that questions arise as to the competence of the police to handle the Model Town incident, but at the same time we need to consider as to whether or not the bevaiour of the protestors and in particular the encouragement of his followers by Dr Qadri, as evident from his tweets like ‘We are peaceful and want to remain this way but I cannot tell you what can happen if they carry on creating hurdles’ and ‘This is the first test for my workers, they will sacrifice their lives, but they will never bow their heads’, was constitutional. And do we believe that such tweets could be from such a person who claims to be an ambassador and promoter of peace.
These tweets and the overall demeanor of Dr Qadri indicate that he is prepared to go to any extent, doesn’t matter be it legal or not, to confront the government and in achieving his goals he won’t bother about the Constitution of Pakistan because he has already declared that he does not believe in the incumbent government, executive and judiciary and therefore he has refused to co-operate with the Judicial Commission and has instead claimed for the electronic media to be his commission. There is a procedure whereby you can challenge the commission if you are not happy with the composition of it. No findings have even come to light yet and Dr Qadri has declared such Judicial Commission to be ineffective.
Qadri state within a state?
Is this the constitutional way of Dr Qadri dealing with the matters and try to build his own state within a state? Would his behavior not amount to contempt of court by virtue of Article 204 of the Constitution of Pakistan, which prohibits interfering with the process of court and doing anything, which scandalizes court or bring it into hatred or ridicule.
Questions can also be asked about the government’s timing to start this operation, but does it relinquish the fact that the government, in principle, was doing the lawful thing by removing barricades. Whereas the protestors, on the other hand, were protesting against something over which they had no right and therefore they were obstructing the police in carrying out their duties. And on top of that they were getting instructions from their leader that it was their test. So, at least on the moral basis, does Dr Qadri not responsible for the deaths that occurred?
These are not the constitutional ways of dealing with things. You have the right to protest but no right to topple an elected government through wrongful means.
The government is corrupt, the executive and the judiciary are not independent: this is what Dr Qadri thinks about the system in Pakistan, which in the recent years has shown unprecedented examples of restoring judiciary, sending an elected Prime Minister home and the prosecution of ex-Chief of Army Staff.
Under what legal or moral authority?
Under what authority, be it legal or moral, that Dr Qadri, also a Canadian citizen, is coming to challenge the affairs of the government of Pakistan. He moved to Canada in 2005, has been living there only to come back for a brief period of time in December 2012 to upset the running system claiming himself to be savior of Pakistan. According to the Constitution of Pakistan, he has not even a right to represent the People of Pakistan in parliament, the place where decisions are made for the future of this country.
If the Constitution of Pakistan doesn’t entrust Dr Qadri with representing even one constituency, how could it be possible to for him to lead a movement, apparently on the style of Gandhi, against the government duly elected by the People of Pakistan just a year ago.
Yes, questions have been raised about the authenticity of the elections but the task of establishing rigging is dedicated to the election tribunals which are looking into the cases and now and then we do hear that a certain member of assembly got disqualified.
Some people, particularly from PTI, question the speed of election tribunals to decide the election petitions. There is no doubt that under law as well the election tribunals are ought to decide cases within three months but considering that we never saw the influx of so many election petitions in the past election tribunals are therefore taking more than the prescribed time for handling these petitions.
Though it’s taking time to deal with these petitions, a good thing happening at the same time is that legal jurisprudence is also being developed that would not only deal with such sort of petitions swiftly in the future but would also identify issues that would help in bringing electoral reforms.
On moral grounds as well, how could Dr Qadri justify himself representing the people of Pakistan when he himself is living in Canada since 2005? If he feels so strongly about the people of Pakistan then why doesn’t he relinquish his Canadian citizenship and come and live in Pakistan and start representing the people of Pakistan through democratic and constitutional means, the means of the Quaid-e-Azam.
No one can dispute the problems identified by Dr Qadri but it’s his way of addressing those problems which raises questions about him and its his outright dismissal of the incumbent system which is worrying and particularly when he hasn’t really taken pain to be a part of it by participating in the general elections at least.
The example of the creation of Pakistan itself is a classic example of achieving our objectives through legitimate and constitutional ways.
Why is that Dr Qadri is not willing to follow the footsteps of Jinnah? Because it’s a hard path, as right paths are mostly hard; or he hasn’t got what it takes to bring a change he wants to see in the system through democratic means.
Qadri must be extremely careful
In my opinion, Dr Qadri must be extremely careful in his approach towards bringing change in Pakistan. He must follow the Constitution of Pakistan and other laws of the land. If there is anything in the system, which he wants to bring change about, he must use his pressure through democratic and constitutional ways.
No doubt, Dr Qadri is a fiery speaker and he must use his ability to give hope to people not to make them hopeless about the system and also he must use his resources to sue the government for all its negligence, including the incidents of Karachi and Lahore, and let them be accountable through judicial process and following such approach would not only strengthen the judiciary but would also promote the rule of law, the basic ingredient for a progressive nation.
An Abdalian and Aitchisonian, Barrister Ameer Abbas Ali Khan, is a Solicitor-Advocate (UK), Advocte High Court. He has LLB (Hons) UK, LLM (LSE), Bar-at-Law from Lincoln Inn, and lives in London. His father has been an MP in Pakistan over several decades
See also by Ameer Abbas: Arrest of Altaf Hussain: A big deal? No.