PTI + PAT V State of Pakistan: use of force instead of courts or dialogue
Guest column By Barrister Ameer Abbas Khan
If one attempts to find out the difference between the West’s psychology and that of ours, one would come to know that it is none other than that we are a very emotional nation with our decisions clouded by emotions and are therefore unable to make well-informed, rational and principled decisions most of the time.
It is this emotional nature of the people that almost all the leaders have taken undue advantage of by playing with their religious sentiments or alluring them to a better future; and nowadays it is none other than PTI and PAT that are recklessly playing with the people’s emotions.
Both PTI and PAT claim to struggle for a welfare society where Rule of Law will prevail but if one, leaving aside emotions, applies one’s mind to the circumstances prevailing in Pakistan, one would notice that in fact both PTI and PAT themselves have no respect for the law and are potentially heading towards a destruction of properties, lives or a whole system altogether.
Both PTI and PAT claim to exercise their right to protest with peaceful means but the language of their leaders suggests the opposite. Isn’t it true that both the party leaders are threatening the writ of the government? For example, Imran Khan has reportedly threatened  to bring Pakistan to a standstill if he is placed under house arrest and that his party workers would siege the police stations across the county if police opened fire on the protest march. On the other hand, Tahir Ul Qadri has reportedly ordered  his workers to attack security forces and enter the houses of police officials who would launch a crackdown against them and in this context FIR has also been lodged against him.
At the end of the day, it is the government’s responsibility to ensure safety of the people’s lives and properties; and with the remarks of the party leaders across the lines of an angry mob, how one could challenge the government imposing Section 144  or even Article 245 of the Constitution of Pakistan.
What moral or legal justification do these leaders have for using such a language, which potentially can incite masses to use violence against the state? Such violence is totally opposite to the right to defend oneself against the unavoidable excessive force used by the security forces.
It is pertinent to note that right to protest is one thing but challenging the writ of the state in case the demands are not met is altogether a different thing and totally unconstitutional. If both the parties believe their constitutional right to protest or any other right is being hindered by the government then wouldn’t it be prudent to approach Courts and seek relief from them instead of taking law into their own hands? Isn’t it what the Courts are there for rather than using violence to secure justice?
At the end of the day, the purpose of the protest is to express your views loud and clear in order for the government to consider them; and failure of the government to act upon them could go against it in the next elections. And that’s what we see in the West where tens of thousands of people come out on street, lodge their protest, go home and then use the government’s response to their protest in determining whether or not to vote for it in the next elections.
But PTI has given the ultimatum that it will not accept anything short of the new elections. It may make more sense to understand PTI’s approach, be it democratic or not, if we briefly look at the facts leading up to their ‘Tsunami March”:
(i) PTI showed full confidence in the conducting of 2013 election under the supervision of Fakhruddin G Ibrahim
(ii) PTI participated in 2013 election and accepted its results as well
(iii) Only 58 candidates of PTI challenged their election before election tribunals whereas total number of election petitions is 410
(iv) PTI claimed that election tribunals were not deciding their petitions and stay order has been granted to its opponents by courts in some cases
(v) That no thumb verification has been done in four constituencies
(vi) And now PTI claims that election tribunals disposed of the election petitions as opposed to deciding the petitions justly
(vii) Khan has reportedly stated recently that so far he has expressed that election rigging took place and will now disclose at his “Tsunami March” as to how that rigging took place.
In essence, isn’t it PTI saying that Courts failed to provide them justice and that’s why they are coming out in million and would force the government go home and have new elections? The government may go home but what about their grievance with courts. And this is despite the fact that PTI has always made a blanket statement that courts failed to do justice to their petitions without actually identifying the lacunas in the court’s decisions on their respective petitions.
Furthermore, we hear all the time that Courts have granted stay order against their petitions but they have never explained the basis or the Court’s reasoning for granting such stay orders. And it forces one to wonder if PTI should have utilised its experience and resources to bring legal reforms, which would make our judicial system stronger and easily accessible to people, instead of bringing whole system to a halt through its “Tsunami March”.
The recent press conference of Khan in which he stated that he would give evidence as to how the election rigging took place at his “Tunami March” shows that he is bent on going ahead with his march, otherwise the right forum to present those evidences is Courts. Not only that but reportedly Khan has also stated that time of negotiation is over and has even refused PM Nawaz Sharif’s offer for negotiation . Something may or may not have come out of these negotiations but at least it would have shown some genuine efforts on the part of Khan to resolve the matter without unnecessarily putting the lives of hundreds of thousands of people at risk.
When so many people pose blind confidence in their leader, it bears even more responsibility on the leader to ensure their safety and avoid unnecessary confrontation. Even Khan can appreciate the security risks attached to such a large gathering at one place and yet his refusal to negotiate with the government is beyond reason.
What more surprising is that Khan is willing to attend Qadri’s ‘Youm-e-Shuhada’  but refused to attend the National Security Conference of 9 August, just five days before his planned ‘Tsunami March’, where reportedly all parties including Army Chief attended to discuss National issues. It could have been a golden opportunity for Khan to express his point of view before all the parties; and even if the government had not accepted his demands in entirety at least he would have been able to gain some additional support or would have been able to make out some case for his ‘Tsunami March”.
By not attending the National Security Conference, it appears that even Khan is not sure about his demands otherwise in politics you grab each and every opportunity and platform to express your vision and policy and prefer dialogue over force.
This apparently also shows that Khan is supporting Tahir Ul Qadri, who we all know is a Canadian citizen and by constitution is not even eligible to represent a single constituency, in contradictory to his approach of demanding politicians to bring their assets back to Pakistan and probably with the hope that Tahir Ul Qadri would join him for his “Tsunami March”.
This is in addition to the fact we all know that Tahir Ul Qadri came to bring reforms in Pakistan in December 2012 but went back to Canada in 2013 and returned to Pakistan fiercely once again in June 2013 to implement his reforms. The question is that if Tahir Ul Qadri is so genuine and honest about his reforms then why he stepped back in 2013 when probably it was more suitable time for him to propagate his reforms as election had not even taken place by then.
We need to think rationally and question our leaders, who need to learn to follow constitution as well, otherwise we will always live in a vicious circle: “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”.
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.
The opinions expressed in this guest post are the writer’s own and do not reflect the view of the walizahid.com blog.
Also by Ameer Abbas Khan:
Article 245: digging own grave?
No right to blame others!
Arsalan case against Imran on moral ground may not stand
To sue, or not to sue? Iftikhar Chaudhry answers this question
Will PTI’s threats of August march, PA dissolution help democracy?
Musharraf: Let justice be done, though the heavens may fall!
Is Qadri’s path constitutional & legal? No
A tale of two bigwigs in two judicial systems
Arrest of Altaf Hussain: A big deal? No.