In a recent column I had defined ‘mutiny’ and its synonymous connotations as given in the dictionary. I am regretfully, constrained to pick up another word for this week’s piece with equally, if not more sinister meaning i.e. treason. According to Article 6 of our Constitution, ‘Any person, who abrogates or subverts or suspends or holds in abeyance, or attempts or conspires to abrogate or subvert or suspend or hold in abeyance, the Constitution by use of force or show of force or by any other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason.’
It should be recalled that the Supreme Court and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) were established according to the Constitution of Pakistan and provided protection by it. The Apex Court was established in accordance with Part VII of the Constitution and invested with ultimate and extensive appellate, original and advisory jurisdictions. This forum is the ultimate arbiter of legal and constitutional disputes as well as the final interpreter of constitutional law. NAB was formed through an Ordinance No. XIX in 1999 and its powers extended by Article 270 AA of the Constitution.
Article 6 classifies (amongst other things) ‘subversion of the Constitution’ as an act of treason. By implication therefore, attempts aimed at, directly or indirectly, compromising or obstructing the aforementioned institutions in performance of their duties is nothing less than subverting their constitutional mandate and in not so many words the Constitution itself. The nation has been watching the disqualified leader of the Ruling Party indulge in an orgy of criticism laced with threats against the Highest Court in the land and those who are holding him and his cronies accountable for abusing public office. The ravings and rantings of a man suffering from delusions of self-aggrandizement crossed the line when he recently exhorted the people to rise in revolt against the Supreme Court and NAB.
PML N has the dubious reputation of being a political force with a culture of ‘dictatorship’ made worse by a vindictively reactive approach towards institutional cognizance and accountability of their misdeeds. It was on 28 November 1997 that an unruly mob of PML N workers and leaders, stormed the Supreme Court building in Islamabad, forcing Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah to adjourn contempt of court proceedings against Nawaz Sharif (who was then the sitting PM). Led by none other than the PM’s political secretary, the hooligans chanted slogans against the CJ, damaged furniture, not even sparing the portrait of Pakistan’s Founding Father Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The police managed to restore normalcy after baton charging and tear gassing the mob, both inside and outside the courthouse. If the court had at that time dealt ruthlessly with the culprits, it would have set a precedence deterring a repetition or near repetition of the incident. We are now reaping the rewards of that lack of retribution., wherein ongoing criticism against the apex judiciary, the NAB and oblique finger pointing at the Army (which too is a constitutional entity) has now been ratcheted to a point, where a corrupt man disqualified from holding public office is urging a general rebellion against accountability and a historically laudable judicial verdict.
The nation is well aware of the ill will borne against Pakistan by New Delhi and Kabul. This hostility has manifested itself in two wars, loss of East Pakistan, unrest in Balochistan and continuing attempts at creating internal instability through terrorism. Of late however, these threats have force multiplied by the formation of an unholy nexus between our enemies and the US Administration under a controversial President Trump.
It is an undeniably regretful fact that our Former PM and his family have substantial financial interests tied up in India. Mr. Nawaz Sharif has also demonstrated an incriminating softness in his approach towards violations on the Line of Control, the ongoing Human Right Violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir and effective condemnation of Indian involvement in Balochistan. What the enemy desperately wants is to create an internal situation so dangerous that not even our Armed Forces or Judiciary can protect the physical and ideological frontiers of Jinnah’s Pakistan. The painful question is, ‘Where does Mr. Nawaz Sharif and his followers figure in this threat equation?’
The writer is a freelance columnist.