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Only Moral Victory for MMA

 

Nadeem Yousaf

 

After 13 months of constitutional battle with Musharraf government, at last, MMA signed a face saving agreement. MMA along with other opposition parties took a principle stand, not to accept Legal Frame Work Order (LFO) as a part and parcel of the constitution and demanded debate and approval from the parliament. For obvious reasons, Gen. Musharraf could not table the LFO in the parliament as he had not 2/3 majority to approve it. Reaching agreement with MMA means that LFO is a part of the constitution with slight amendments.

 

It is a modest observation of Gen. Musharraf that no is winner or loser because he is standing at the victory stand. MMA is only left with boosting off its moral victory. Gen. Musharraf got what he wanted and would remain the supreme power even after leaving the office Chief of Army Staff. The unanimously abrogated constitutional article 58-2B is restored and president got once again power to send the whole elected body home. However, this time execution of article 58-2B shall constitutionally need Supreme Court consent. So this also means that judiciary is constitutionally dragged in politics directly. The most important point is that our politicians and ruling elites have not learnt from the past and this time also no clear criteria are given when the President can dissolve the parliament using the power of 58-2B to and left it on the desecration of the Judiciary to decide whether or not the execution of the power is legitimate. It is also unfortunate that judiciary history is not very impressive and its impartiality is always in question so the speculations are that president will be a winner in such cases.  Similarly, president power to appoint Chiefs of different forces is intact. Gen. Musharraf made it clear in his speech that the president is only suppose to consult the Prime Minister and PM suggestion is not binding on the President. Likewise, National Security Council will be in the system which strengthens Gen. Musharraf Power and establish permanent role of army in political affairs. Moreover, this agreement will provide indemnity to all actions of Gen. Musharraf that he took since 1998 including establishment of National Reconstruction Bureau, which only meant to strengthen Gen. Musharraf authority, and large scale induction of retired and serving army personnel in civil public bureaucracies. 

 

Another important aspect is the process that has been followed to induct the LFO in the constitution. Parliament provides the floor to debate controversial issues but astonishingly all the discussions regarding LFO were made outside of the constitutional building. More importantly, the government has not presented LFO as a bill to make amendments in the constitution rather the ongoing discussion in the parliament is making amendments in the LFO. In other words, MMA invalidated their original stand that LFO is not a part of the constitution. In addition, it is no secret that the government employed various means including political bribes and threats to subjugate MMA and other opposing groups. Therefore, it can conveniently assume that the resolution of constitutional crisis is temporary and it will reemerge within a decade. All the major opposition parties have made it clear that they will abrogate the crucial clauses of LFO from the constitution the day they will have 2/3 majority.

 

Another interesting issue is what MMA have gained or lost in this deal. In this deal, the consolation prize goes to MMA; only victory of them is that LFO is being discussed in the parliament.  Apart from face saving and consolation prize, MMA has also gained a few direct benefits out of this deal. First, MMA members’ religious qualification will be accepted equivalent to the bachelor degree. Second, it is likely that Opposition leader in the house would also be from MMA. Third, they will continue ruling in peace in NWFP and remain member of the ruling group in Blauchistan. Fourth, they no more fear that they will be implicated in any act of terrorism at least till the time they are supportive to Musharraf’s regime.

 

However, politically, MMA might be at loss. Emergence of MMA as a third political force at the political scene was quite welcomed even by moderates. It was hoped that they might show a different political wisdom and values. However, the actions that they have taken so far, at the provincial and national level, only a silly could think that they are any different from the materialistic (not secular) political parties – may be at the provincial level they are the worst than materialistic political parities because their so called Islamization actions are causing more anxiety for people than peace and progress.

 

The general perception that they have supported more government than the combined opposition is not very wrong if we analyze their past 13 months’ political behavior. During this tenure, they have always ditched the combined opposition at the crucial time. For example, the government was more benefited when they unrealistically demanded MMA Prime Minster during negotiations with PPPP and PML (N). Similarly, when the combined opposition announced boycott of negotiation on LFO they took it as an opportunity to make a deal with the government. The current stance that they would sit on the opposition benches is more favorable to the government as it would help in sidelining the other major political parties, i.e. PPPP and PML (N). The recent ‘principled pact on LFO’ with the military-cum-civilian government might be the last nail on the coffin of MMA’s ‘politics of principle.’ It might not be wrong to contend that they as a ruler in the provinces and as a key party of the opposition in the center have disappointed their electorates and well-wishers.

 

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

 

 

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