PM’s wise view of security
Courtesy: S Rahman
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has rightly opined that the state cannot survive if the constitutional order was not respected and the rule of law not enforced.
These views of the prime minister that he expressed at National Defence University need to be evaluated in the historical perspective with specific reference to the history of democracy.
The fact is that ever since the democracy took roots in different systems of governance, from the days of the Athens to date, the constitution has always been viewed globally (with few exceptions) as a noble covenant that forms the very foundation of a state.
Theoretically, the constitution appears to some people as a mere document of understanding among different segments of the society inhabiting a state but, in reality, it is sum total of all the roots of laws enacted by people’s representatives. And as is widely known, the local customs, usages, people’s genuine aspirations and expectations, responsibilities, fundamental rights, socio-cultural patterns and ethos, all form the basis of laws of any country. It is through an evolutionary process that these foundations ultimately translate into laws. And the constitution is the embodiment of the laws writ large. It is the broader framework of a country’s system of laws, governance, aims and objectives, methodology and above all, the statecraft itself. So, if a society or a state needs anything to survive and thrive, it is the constitution.
Countries that have respected their constitutions are success stories of the contemporary times. In this context, the example of UK’s constitution is given as the British peoples’ respect for their constitution is unprecedented despite its unwritten nature. So is the case with many other advanced democracies where the people always have recourse to the constitution whenever the need arises to understand the spirit behind that was envisaged by the forefathers and whenever the countries are confronted with crises.
Prime minister’s emphasis on upholding and respecting the constitution is very much relevant to the present situation whose sensitivities can be addressed if we have recourse to the constitution of Pakistan that was unanimously adopted by all the representative forces of the country.
PM’s focus on supremacy of the Constitution and rule of law is also a key to most of the problems, especially terrorism. All other root causes apart, it (terrorism) is primarily a case of no rule of law. Had the perpetrators abided by the Constitution and the law of the land or had the state been able to make them do so, we would not have experienced the bloodshed that is occurring every now and then in various guises of a deceptive nature.
And once the constitutional order is secured, the defence becomes impregnable and, simultaneously, the institutional balance is maintained, says PM Sharif. According to him, “all the roads that lead to a strong and unimpeachable national defence, emerge from adherence to the constitutional order and rule of law that is also a mandatory requirement of national security”. As for the institutional balance, it strengthens the state and the society.
There is no doubt about this analysis given by the prime minister during his address to a group of enlightened people from different leading sectors including people from civilian, military and political circles that also included ministers and armed services top brass.
The PM’s views are very much in consonance with the prevalent circumstances that have given birth to turmoil because of a background of unconstitutional rules during whose incumbency; military dictators have been treating the constitution as mere pieces of papers. It is in this context that PM Sharif has opined that political instability and unconstitutional rule had divided the nation and reduced its collective strength.
This collective strength is direly needed nowadays as much as is collective wisdom. We just can’t afford any more reduction in our collective strength as well as in our collective wisdom. In order to check this decline, we should adopt the constitutional route since constitution is the repository of both the collective strength and collective wisdom.
Hence the PM’s stress, again and again, on respect for the constitution and rule of law which is also a message to the disgruntled elements that are up in arms against the state and its constitution.
In fact, Prime Minister Sharif’s vast experience as a statesman has broadened his vision tremendously. His speeches speak volumes of his broadened vision. May it be any area; the PM’s speeches are replete with practical suggestions that can form solid guidelines for the institutions.
At NDU, the PM spoke like a seasoned statesman dwelling upon country’s security, defence, constitutional order and rule of law. Now, who can differ with the PM’s strong desire for seeing the country on the path suggested by Sharif?
The PM has also repeated one of the primary ideals of Quaid-i-Azam i.e discipline: “a strong state has to be built on discipline and orderly compliance of its constituents.” Likewise PM is fully cognizant of the fact that Pakistan’s international goodwill needs to be enhanced further to the optimum level as evidenced from his words: “Pakistan has to pursue this path if it wants to be recognized as a respectable part of the comity of nations.”
The matter is not only of earning recognition within the international fraternity but also of retaining the recognition of a responsible sovereign. Very rightly said prime minister that: “strengthening of Pakistan’s identity as a modern and democratic state which was at peace with both itself and its neighbors, and also recognized as a responsible sovereign all over the world is an imperative of country’s National Security Policy.”
This is perhaps the wisest interpretation of the term ‘national security’ that was given a different, narrow meaning by most of the rulers of the past in general and autocratic rulers in particular. PM Sharif has, in this manner, given the crux of experiences of the past with the idea of carving our destiny sagaciously as evidenced from this advice by the PM: “While shaping our future, we will have to keep in mind the mistakes of our past.”
Yet another advice proffered by PM Sharif, that should rather form a permanent guideline for us all, is “As we move forward, it is imperative that we organize our national life in accordance with the Islamic principles, the democratic ideals, and the Quaid-i-Azam’s vision.”
The PM also quoted Father of the Nation Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s address to the young officers at Staff College, Quetta in 1948: -”The spirit is what really matters. I should like you to study the constitution, which is in force in Pakistan and understand its true constitutional and legal implications when you say that you will be faithful to the constitution.”
Two encouraging things that were also stated on the same occasion was admiration and acknowledgement of the armed forces and PM’s assurance to the people that the government was resolutely pursuing the path of economic revival.