By Agha Iqrar Haroon
Protesting against government, taking out processions, organising public meetings and raising voice for your rights are fundamental principles of democracy, and the Constitution of Pakistan ensures exercising such democratic activities to its citizens.
Can siege of Islamabad and Rawalpindi by protestors of a religious party since one week be considered a “democratic action”?
Mainstream media, political parties and parliament are keeping quite to answer this question, probably considering it in the “larger interest of the democracy”.
Islamabad was under virtual siege during 2014 Dharna (sit-in) that lasted for 126 days and Constitution Avenue housed activities of two political parties—including one that can surely be considered as a religio-political party.
I believe that political parties have every right to exercise democratic activities if such activities are not encroaching basic rights of other citizens. I wish to ask that do victims of such activities also have their fundamental civic rights or not?
Are such lockdowns not breach and infringe rights of other people including the right of reaching hospitals before they can die, right of going to their offices before they are sacked from their jobs, right of free movent and right of access to normal life?
Does democracy help only those in Pakistan who have power to halt normal social lives of others while exhibiting force?
History testifies that states start crumbling when groups start disrupting and challenging the writ of the State with force.
Life, honor, dignity and other natural human rights are inviolable, and the state of Pakistan recognizes, respects and protects them through Constitution of 1973. Does Pakistani State really protect what is written in the Constitution?
According to many article of the Constitution of the Republic of Pakistan, everyone is obliged to observe the Constitution and laws, respect the rights, freedom, honor, and dignity of other people. Under the Constitution, Pakistani citizens have the right to associate, right to participate in the creation of political parties, and voluntarily enter into and exit from them. According to the Constitution, public associations and political parties are established and operate within the framework of the Constitution and laws.
I am trying to find those clauses in the Constitution which can really ensure Order in Society—clauses that can indicate clearly that the creation and activities of public associations and political parties that promote racial, national, social and religious hostility or call for the violent overthrow of the constitutional order and the organization of armed groups are prohibited.
Here I must appreciate the Constitution of Republic of Tajikistan which clearly forbids creation and activities of public associations and political parties that promote racial, national, social and religious hostility or call for the violent overthrow of the constitutional order and the organization of armed groups. Is there no need to include such clauses clearly in the Constitution of Pakistan?
As a development observer and student of democracy, I wish to cite a decision of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Tajikistan that timely and rightly saved the Tajik society to become radicalize.
This case is known as “State vs IRPT”.
The Prosecutor General of the Republic of Tajikistan moved to the Supreme Court against the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) in order to protect the interests of the Republic of Tajikistan. He prayed to the court for the recognition of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan as an extremist-terrorist organization and for termination of the party’s activities because IRPT was allegedly involved in spreading extremism in society.
The Prosecutor General prayed to the court for liquidation, stoppage of the publication of the newspaper “Najot”, blocking the Internet website of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan and the prohibition of the import and distribution of audio and video recordings, newspapers and literature and party flyers to stop spreading extremism.
The Prosecutor General took a plea that Tajikistan was (is) a sovereign, democratic, legal, unitary and social State, creates the conditions for a worthy life and free development of each person and life, honor, dignity and other natural human rights are inviolable, and the state recognizes, respects and protects them.
According to Article 8 of the Constitution of the Republic of Tajikistan, public associations and political parties are established and operate within the framework of the Constitution and laws. The creation and activities of public associations and political parties that promote racial, national, social and religious hostility or call for the violent overthrow of the constitutional order and the organization of armed groups are prohibited.
It may be mentioned that IRPT was established and was operational from December 4, 1991. In spite of fact that the main purpose of the creation of the IRPT was the political, economic and cultural uplift of Tajikistan, the protection of peace, ensuring national unity and fraternal co-existence of the peoples of Tajikistan, the party reportedly got involved in promoting extremist thoughts, provocation against other political parties, hostility and fanning hate against other religions.
IRPT newspaper “Najot” allegedly published information and articles that stirring the national and religious conflicts and propagated hatred against economic, social, cultural and religious policies of the state and the constitutional Government of the Republic of Tajikistan.
IRPT planed attacks on important state buildings including the First TV Channel of Tajikistan, the TV “Bakhoriston”, and Departments of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the districts and the city of Dushanbe and the Departments of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the city of Vahdat.
IRPT just planned attacking state buildings and was banned by the Supreme Court while in Pakistan we had been reporting events about attacks on state buildings including Parliament and State Run Television by participant of Dharna in 2014.
We had been reporting speeches in which politicians asked their followers to stand against the State of Pakistan and directed their followers not to deposit utility bills, not to give revenue to the State, not to send remittances to Pakistan and not to use banking system.
We had been reporting hate speeches of certain religious parties against different groups and schools of thoughts. We had been reporting speeches of leaders of certain political parties to stand against the State of Pakistan and seek help from India to disintegrate (God Forbid) Pakistan.
Will State of Pakistan ever think to snub these extremist trends like the State of Tajikistan snubbed through its Supreme Court?
Will our Parliament ever pass a law that would ensure my right of free moment and protect a common Pakistani from such groups those can siege the capital of Pakistan for weeks and for months?
The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of Dispatch News Desk.