Why I protest the attacks by Zardari and pseudo-Judiciary

The Supreme Court (read Dogar Court) of Pakistan, after a prolonged hearing of the case of electoral eligibility of the Sharif brothers, had declared them ineligible for contesting the elections (which were held back in February 2008 ). This result, thus, disqualifies Shahbaz Sharif as the MPA and consequently the CM of Punjab – Pakistan’s largest and politically most influential province.

In a surprising move, the President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, imposed Emergency in the province and issued orders for Governor rule under his right-hand-man Salman Taseer who had earlier given hints of this move.

LAHORE (SANA): Governor Punjab Salman Taseer on Thursday said that PPP government would be established in Punjab very soon. [Friday, February 20th, 2009]

The decission of the illegal judges working in consultation with their God Father ,Zardari was no surpirse when the Long March for restoration of Judiciary is approaching and PMLN had shown consistency on its strong pro-restoration-of-Judiciary stance. Soon after this decission, PMLN workers held protest rallies across the country, majority of them being non-violent.

Punjab Pronvincial Assembly (PPA) was locked out and the members of PPA on the next day were not allowed to enter the premises. The session was held on the stairs of the assembly building and many of the MPAs were arrested by the cops under the orders of the Governor.

What shocked me most in this comedy of errors was the imposition of Governor rule and the arrest of the representatives of the people. One man’s hand picked judges disqualify the popular CM, that one man sends 300+ representatives of the people back home, locks out the house of the people, and installs his pet to govern half of the nation ! Justifications for doing that ? NONE. Why was it so tough to call a session of the PPA and have a new CM elected ?

I am no blind fan of the CM or Sharif brothers, I do believe that people with murkey histories should not be given more and more chances but why someone enjoys the status of being the President of the country courtesy the deals brokered outside Pakistan while other representatives of the people are thrown out. What is most to be blamed in this is the silent speactator’s role of PPP who are mischeving the nation and blindly following and approving the hijacker of the party in everything he does.

I have been dicussing in my circle of activist friends and in family about participation in the protests regarding this drama and here is a list [courtesy Amanullah Kariapper] of why we support the participation and protest the illegal judges, their unpopular decission and the governor rule in Punjab though not a fan of PMLN or a die-hard supporter:

  1. Why does the dis-qualification of the incumbent CM lead to the siege of the Punjab Assembly by the police? Imposition of Governor’s Rule – even if ordered by a democratically elected government – is an attack on democracy, on the right of the people to govern themselves through freely elected representatives. A simpler alternative would have been for the PPP to have said that decisions of the judiciary were not in its control, that they valued the alliance with the PML-N and that they would encourage the PML-N to pursue the case through proper channels – for example, the appeals process.
  2. Why do our civic liberties (freedom of speech, freedom of association, etc.) suffer because of a quarrel among the power elite? This point leads to criticism of both the PPP and the PML-N’s handling of the situation.
  3. Democracy needs to be allowed to take root and the anti-democratic measures taken by the central executive authority – imposition of Governor’s rule, disruption of normal proceedings at the provincial assembly – at such a sensitive time may provide just the right conditions (dissatisfaction with performance, overwhelming disapproval of government actions, power vacuum) for the Army to carry out yet another coup.
  4. A 100g roti need no longer be sold at Rs. 2. Why should the completely de-politicised and alienated poor pay the price of a power struggle?

Finally the question are: How long can the contradictions between Zardari’s political strength and massive unpopularity last?  And can Pakistan achieve political stability with its second largest party shut out of the corridors of power?  We’ll get the first test in early March, when the PML-N support the lawyers go on their Long March.

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