Sunday, March 5, 2017

Revival of military courts in broader Pakistani constitutional context

Cyril Almeida, a former Pakistani diplomat, has written a worthwhile Dawn op-ed putting the revival of the 21st Amendment military courts' power to try civilians into a broader context of the country's flawed constitutionalism. He writes:
FATA gets democracy; Pakistan will get military courts — same decision-makers, two very different decisions. 
How the hell do you reconcile the two? 
The easiest answer is what the boys want the boys eventually get — military courts. The slightly more complicated answer is that where the boys don’t have a hard preference, the civilians get to make some decisions — democracy for Fata. 
The hardest answer is that democracy and the pillars on which it is built are a contested notion here — what the Constitution says and what the people, especially the decision-makers, believe are very different things. 
You can see it in both tracks, the road to democracy in Fata and the imminent return of military courts in the country. Pakistan has an ambivalent relationship with individual rights.

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