Monday, May 25, 2015

A Pakistani constitutional identity crisis?

The one good thing that can be said about the current debate over Pakistan's military courts is that [at least] there is a debate. Here are a couple of incisive paragraphs from an Express Tribune op-ed by Zehra Husain that appeared a few hours ago:
In another hearing, a member of the bench argued that the word ‘sect’ was not included in the original 1973 Constitution but was added later by a military dictator in 1985 to Article 227. In this particular hearing, it was also argued that accepting certain features of the Objectives Resolution may lead to the destruction of the other provisions of the Constitution. The counsel for the federal government has also pointed out to the Supreme Court that the 1973 Constitution was an “uneasy marriage between socialism and Islam”, which could never be successful. 
These court proceedings are in essence a walk through the constitutional history of Pakistan, demonstrating how the state has itself tampered with the country’s self-perception. It sheds light on how religion became inseparable from the Pakistani identity and took on a sectarian nature. Even though our judiciary has a history of passing conservative and problematic judgments, at least, as this particular case suggests, it is debating. A conversation Pakistan should be engaged in given the number of lives lost in a warfare that is part sectarian and part an attempt to crush meaningful dissent. The debate in the Supreme Court is important and necessary, yet it is restricted to this elite institution and barely trickles down to the masses.
Take a few minutes and read the whole thing here.

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