Understanding Pakistan Project Team September 25th, 2007
By: Athar Osama
[Note: While this editorial was being written, Justice Wajihuddin Ahmed has announced his candidacy for the President of Pakistan as a consensus candidate of the judicial community. If nothing else, this makes a bold and daring statement that men of principle are still willing to take on the mighty and the uniformed. A man of integrity and principles, we wish Justice Wajihuddin best of luck of luck in his endeavor - Ed.]
With the date for the Presidential Elections now being announced for Oct 6, 2007, the year-long speculation about whether or not General Musharraf will (or will be able to) seek another term in office is coming to an end. Barring any fresh legal or political challenges which are likely, but not certain, Presidential Elections WILL be held on Oct 6, 2007 and in all likelihood, General Musharraf, in violation of the Constitution of Pakistan, WILL still be holding another “office of profit”, namely, his position as Chief of Army Staff at the time of his re-election.
Whether or not he will give up his uniform after–and only if–he is re-elected as President of Pakistan for a second term is really immaterial. Having used every potential trick under his sleeve to first usurp power from its rightful owners–the people of Pakistan and their democtracally elected representatives–and then legimitize his rule through farce–and perhaps rigged–Presidential Referendum and then a democratic facade, the General is now well on his way to using his uniform to threaten, bully, and harrass all his political opponents and to-be defectors from his own party–but most importantly, the people of Pakistan–to “elect” him to office once again.
If one decides to discount the increasingly irritated and hostile public opinion, as evidenced by the Lawyer’s Movement earlier this year, and the increasingly independent Supreme Court as a result, the election of the President on October 6th seems like a foregone conclusion. It would, however, be rather unwise and shortsighted to discount these recent developments so easily. In this Special Edition of Understanding Pakistan, we look at the Politics of Wardi in the lead up to the proposed Presidential Elections in October 2007. More specifically:
- Justice (Retd) Wajihuddin Ahmed, one of the few honorable Justices of the Supreme Court of Pakistan who refused to take an oath of allegiance under General Musharraf’s Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) and chose to retire instead, in article written in May 2007, talks about the Constitutional Position on Presidential Elections. While some of what Justice Ahmed speculates about is now established reality, his article is refreshing as it is informative about the issues that confront our Supreme Court today…
- Salman Akram Raja, an advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, takes a look at the issues involved in the election of the Incumbant and the challenges that Supreme Court faces in the ongoing legal battle today. The author presents an interesting set of legal arguments including some legal precedence by this very Court that may have restricted the options that the Court now has to rule against the dual office of the President….
- Syed Sharifuddin, a Constitutional Advisor to the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, again addressing the issue of General Musharraf’s re-election brings to bear some international legal practice and evidence to the question. It engages in an interesting legal jugglery to, on the one hand, encourage the current regime to follow the Constitution and stand-down and, on the other hand, to cajole them into avoiding adopting extra-legal means to (once again) subvert the Constitution….
- Athar Osama, in a “History of Failure: The Rise and Fall of Military “Experiment” in Pakistan” argues against the futility of electing a President in Uniform and carrying on with the painful and useless exercise of trying to create a better democracy by practicsing dictatorship–a process whose greatest affectees are the Pakistani people themselves…
Before we provide Understanding Pakistan’s own assessment of the likely Politics of Wardi, we leave you with this somewhat humorous but mostly ironic parody of General Musharraf’s insistence on clinging onto his Khakis. One particular thing that caught my eye and attention as I watched this was a placard that said: “Apne Mulk ko Fatah Kerna Bund Kero”
Returning back to our own analysis, we believe that the potential challenges to the President’s Election can come from four different sources, namely, legal, political, people, and institutional (the army). We describe each in more detail and rate these according to their likelihood and impact.