Revisiting Pakistan’s Constitutional Crisis - Pakistan

Revisiting Pakistan’s Constitutional Crisis

Posted by Aneela Shahzad on

A constitution is a set of principles or precedents that define what ‘constitutes’ an entity and how it is going to work.

As difficult it would be for a single person to define his/her constituents or determine how s/he will work for the rest of his/her life or what the laws of his/her life would be, one can find how colossal a thing it would be to determine the same for a collection of something like 200 million people that constitute Pakistan.

How do we get to laws in the first place? Well there are two theories that run in parallel. The old Natural Law Theory goes like - human nature is embedded with certain morals or truth-values, so we would essentially know by our constitution what right and wrong is. If that is the case it would perhaps be possible to identify a universal code regarding what everybody agrees to as being right and wrong and these values would roughly stay constant in time owing to their being the constituents of the thought.

Then there is a Historicism theory which Hegel proposed in light of the Theory of Evolution, wherein after men evolved from apes, they progressed from state to state, such as from a state of pack hunters, to a tribal state, then a master-slave state to theocratic states and finally to the states of democratic-egalitarian societies. In such a theory man’s conscious thought would be the product of his concrete historical and social environment and as his history evolves so would the criteria of right and wrong evolve and in turn this changing idea of the thought would inevitably change society.

The problem with Hegel’s theory was that it was built on an air of vanity, a belief that with mastery in science and technology, man’s history will culminate in an absolute moment - a moment in which a final, rational form of society and state would be achieved. The problem with such a hypothesis is obvious – if human conscience evolves, it can never come to an absolute final. The same air of Hegel was kept by Marx, but he rechanneled Hegel’s idea of a conscience that becomes manifest in the material world and creates the material world in its own image – into a complete inverse, of conscience being determined entirely by the prevailing ‘material mode of production’ – leading to deterministic materialism.

As we have seen, in our own times, the ‘historic’ battles between fascism and democracy, between capitalism and communism, between liberalism and conservatism, and between capital and labor – and have witnessed an apparent victory of democracy, capitalism and liberalism over the others and an essential decrease of poverty in western liberal capitalist democracies – it is natural that we gaze at them with awe.

And in our awe, we tend to forget all the ill that inhibit the Liberal Democratic Capitalist State and all the contagion it generates. All-out consumerism that feeds the fat belly of Capitalism is eventually unsustainable by and exhaustive to natural resources. This consumerism may decrease wealth gaps within a closed community but at the global scene economic disparity has mounted. Again we tend to forget the brute truth of strategic, political and economic coercion of the Western democracies over weaker states around the world, which has, historically, allowed them the wealth that helps to liberate their people from the struggles of bare survival. We also tend to forget the relentless trails of wars that that secular western states have waged purely for economic reasons, in which millions upon millions have been killed, even after WW2.

But the tragedy of the liberal capitalist democracy is more than that, it has liberated its societies of the ages old moral standards leaving the people at their own at deciding what is right and what is wrong every day when they wake up. The basic questions on sex, family, child-bearing, marriage remain permanently debatable; and the simply obvious evils such as pornography and prostitution have been dragged to the forums of endless democratic debates. Only the weak, the worker-class, the truly feminine and the abandoned child know the horrors of democratic freedoms contoured in the framework of money-based capitalist progress. 

Quote: “The liberal idea of tolerance is more and more a kind of intolerance. What it means is 'Leave me alone; don't harass me; I'm intolerant towards your over-proximity.”  Slavoj Žižek

Now in Pakistan’s particular case, where we may have been a lost-case of a democratic capitalist state model, luckily we have an alternative to look to that the West doesn’t. We have a religious code that we are not apologetic for, and which is upheld by the democratic spirit of the vote of the majority. Like the West upholds the Greek tradition and later the enlightenment traditions, we uphold the tradition of Muhammad, the philosophy-simplicitor enlightened by the same Source that has ‘uniquely appropriated’ the light of wisdom to other great minds, perhaps by way of natural selection within statistical aggregates.

But the moment we will assert that the religious truth is the democratic choice of the majority of a people; the liberal class will respond in its frantic that it does not approve of a ‘majoritarian’ democracy that overrides ‘fundamental human rights’!

If the fundamental human rights are being derived from the UN Charter, then such an argument of disbelief on the majority would defy the very first article of the Charter that goes as follows:

‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.’ Article 1, UN Human Rights Charter

So for those who believe in human rights given by this Charter such a manner of thinking as to render the collective agreement of individual conscience as some kind of a mob-rule or herd-thinking, would send the Charter tottering down its foundations. Not to mention other human rights mentioned in the Charter that are utterly abused by the Liberal thinking of the West, such as stated in Art.18, where it says, ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion… either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance’, which implies that if a person or community’s religion requires them to manifest their religious belief in the form of congregation or as a collective act of the whole society, which all religions do one way or the other, then this is their basic human right to do so. Again the Liberal ideal in pursuing Feminism negates the ‘family’ in favor of self-pleasure and the pursuit of happiness; this violates article 16, which states that ‘the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State’.

Now surely one must reckon that the UN Charter must have been articulated, not in any sort of hurry or with any short-supply of good minds amply educated in relevant fields – which could have been the case of writing down the Constitution of Pakistan, being a country not so developed or so teeming with highly educated people at that time. Yet the very choice of not relying solely on bestowed wisdom but on the Bestower of Wisdom makes this Constitution infallible in the eyes of its people.  If we compare the preambles of the UN Charter that asks all members to pledge co-operation with the United Nations with Constitution of Pakistan that pledges a ‘sovereignty over the entire Universe belong(ing) to Almighty Allah alone’, we sense that the UN’s democratic model with the Hegelian evolutionary spirit that is ever-experiencing and constantly manifesting itself in its own thesis and anti-thesis, is a highly unreliable source for identifying fundamental human rights. And as we do observe, the ills of a democratic system in our own state and in states all around the globe, so do we see them in the UN, which is undemocratically overpowered by the Veto states and where the same mob that has come to power by cheating the system at home gathers as the representative of humanity.                      

There may be within us those who see in the mere electoral method, a model that has utterly failed humanity, that has increased not decreased human suffering in its globalization, as not the best choice among all worst choices – but one worst choice among all worst choices – surely there are many who think like that in the West now. In the words of contemporary French philosopher Alain Badiou:

‘In truth, our leaders and propagandists know very well that liberal capitalism is an inegalitarian regime, unjust, and unacceptable for the vast majority of humanity. And they know too that our “democracy” is an illusion: Where is the power of the people? Where is the political power for third world peasants, the European working class, the poor everywhere? We live in a contradiction: a brutal state of affairs, profoundly inegalitarian—where all existence is evaluated in terms of money alone–is presented to us as ideal’. (Source)

Compared to this is another choice, that of a belief in the undeterred moral code that exists in the thought-frame of the genes homo from the first human to the coming last, for if that was not true, how would we talk of basic or fundamental human rights that the UN talk of. If the good-bad code is present, unaltered in human history, then we would have to come to the conclusion that when the human species came into existence it was full-packed with the moral-code. This way of thinking compels us to see the evolution of life on the planet indeed as a temporal progression but dotted with spontaneous events that have written the history of life from time to time. Indeed then, such a thinking also recognizes spontaneity as an integral step in the seemingly smooth evolution of knowledge in the history of human knowledge – because after all, new ‘ideas’ always arrive at us spontaneously. 

So for those who can rest their choice of belief in the idea of spontaneous arrival of the human species on the planet, it is not hard to rest on the idea that ultimate knowledge was focused spontaneously and sporadically on favored individuals, just like we consider Einstein and Newton favored individuals of our times. For those of us who live in this country and in this religion ‘Islam’, we realize it as a reliable source of unalienable human rights, of sound, high-ground morals that stop us from nothing but indecency and encourage us towards nothing but rational goodness. We as a majority believe in the religious framework to be the wider framework – and like the democracy lovers would say that the problem is not in democracy but in cheating and undermining democracy – we are equally correct in asserting that the problem is not in Islam but in cheating and undermining it, as has happened due to forsaking some core values and excessive Mullaism in Pakistan.

Therefore when a person trained in liberal thought and void of the experience of living the religion as its believers do, asserts for instance that ‘a multinational society such as Pakistan has no room for a dominant religious ideology’, or that ‘the state should not have the power to intervene in people’s lives on the basis of religion because that intervention then becomes religious discrimination’, we must be as assertive in our answer as Hegel or Marx were for their failed doctrines. We must assert that Islam is the best of all available models – it beholds the basic human rights, it uphold democratic participation; it liberates humanity of excessive reassessments that are unaffordable to the majority, the working-class; and it gives political and economic models that are free of both extremes - the relentless accumulations of the capitalism and the lifeless utilitarianism of communism.

Therefore yes there is and always will be the need to revise and correct the clauses of the constitution that have been derived from the preamble and the basic articles, but to alter the defining statutes of what this nation is and what its people believe and stand for is unalterable. In Islam alone is a model that promises a life for the spirit, the human, the humanity – things that make people identify as a nation, in its highest pedestal.