The proposed and ongoing negotiation process between representatives of the State of Pakistan, and those of the TTP, are about more than just arriving at some ‘ceasefire’ accord between two parties in conflict. It is about more than simply the idea of releasing certain prisoners by either side, or the introduction of Islamic education system across Pakistan. It is certainly about more than compensation to the families of drone victims, or the end of interest based banking system. Or the breaking of all ties with the United States.

Let us not be mistaken: at the heart of it all, these talks with TTP, are about who we are as individuals, and who want to become as a nation. These talks are about defining ourselves. Nay… about discovering ourselves. And testing our resolve to be true to such identity.

The government of Pakistan, and all its members, by the very definition of their place in our democratic paradigm, are sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution of this country. And by that virtue, the State functionaries, or their negotiators, are sworn to never surrender even an inch of our Constitutionally protected freedoms. To expand the argument, under Article 5 of the Constitution, “Loyalty to the State is the basic duty of every citizen”… and “Obedience to the Constitution and law is the inviolable obligation of every citizen” or non-citizens within Pakistan. This “inviolable obligation”, to abide by, uphold, and defend our Constitutionally protected freedoms, extends not only to all the State actors, but also to the common citizenry, including the author and readers of this piece.

In this regard, the government negotiators cannot even entertain a proposal by TTP that defies the Constitutional mandate. They certainly cannot enter into a negotiation that takes place under the Sharia law (or TTP’s interpretation of Sharia law), instead of the Constitution of Pakistan. Such negotiation or discussion can only take place to the extent that the Constitutional provisions or judicial dicta have allowed for Sharia principles to be read into our Constitution, by virtue of Article 2A (Objectives Resolution) and Article 227 (Islamic Provisions).

Even if the government, and its negotiators, lack the mettle to defend the Constitution, and instead they concede to the terrorist demands of implementing an extra-Constitutional deal, the Courts of Pakistan (being Courts of law, and not Courts of Islam) shall remain under a Constitutional obligation to strike down such a deal.

Pertinently, the negotiators on behalf of TTP, all of whom are citizens of Pakistan, are also under a solemn duty to remain restricted to the judicious bounds of our Constitution. To implement a polito-legal structure, within the territorial boundaries of Pakistan, which falls foul of our Constitutional mandate, violates Article 5 of the Constitution, and is tantamount to abrogating or subverting the Constitution (in that particular region), which is a blatant violation of Article 6 of the Constitution, and thus punishable by death.

In order to step outside this obligation to abide by and negotiate a deal within the contours of the Constitution, Maulana Abdul Aziz of Lal Masjid (famed for having been caught in a Burka, trying to flee Lal Masjid during the operation in 2007), has declared that he does not believe in or ascribe to the Constitution of Pakistan, and will only be willing to talk/negotiate under (his own bigoted interpretation of) Sharia law.

This belligerent stance of Maulana Burka, while intolerant towards those who disagree with his brand of militancy, may even have been appreciated by some, if (at the very least,) it was sincere. In making his venomous speeches against the Constitution of Pakistan, he seems to be forgetting that, simultaneously, he is also seeking protection (under the same Constitution) for the countless criminal charges leveled against him. In fact, an entire exercise of Article 184(3) Petitions against the Lal Masjid Operation (before an Iftikhar Chaudhry led Supreme Court), by the respected Maulana and his band of extremists, was premised on seeking Constitutional freedom and the writ of habeaus by this ‘law abiding’ group.

And despite this hypocrisy, Brutus remains an honorable man!

In case the message is lost on the learned Maulana, perhaps reference can be made to a local poet:

Jhoot bola hai, toh uss pe

qaim bhi raho Zafar

Aadmi ko sahib-e-kirdaar

hona chahiye

The hypocrisy of this entire exercise is tangible and lewd. The stench of this hypocrisy is sufficient to burn the insides of every thinking individual. And yet, in Pakistan, we let the drama continue, unendingly. We all know – at least most of us do – who the hypocrites are. Just the way we also know who the murders are. And who the corrupt are. And who defend them.

But none of us muster the courage to call them by their name.

Doing so – calling the killer by his name – is a perilous act in our day and time. Those who have ventured to do so have had to pay with their lives. The soil of our sacred country is colored with the blood of those who have spoken the truth, and given their last full measure of their devotion for it. The skies above us bear testament to their bravery and virtue.

The least that any of us can do – me, you, or those around us – is to have enough humanity, enough reverence, enough courage, to speak the truth for it is. To call hypocrisy, by its name. To allow ourselves to swear fidelity to the truth inside. To be loyal to the memory of those who have come before us. To be strong for those who will follow our meekish lead. If not for ourselves, then at least for those living souls, who bodies have been interred into the earth.

If we continue down this path, being silent spectators to a tragedy that we can all see being perpetrators, soon there will be nothing left to defend or speak up for. And our children, and their children after them, will have trouble deciding which was the bigger hypocrisy: Maulana Aziz’s stance, or our stunning silence in its response.

 The writer is a lawyer based in Lahore. He  has a Masters in Constitutional Law from  Harvard Law School.

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