The clauses of the constitution that led to the ouster of the former PM are under scrutiny. Their elastic nature has almost made them analogous to the subjectivity of the phrase ‘one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist’. No doubt, that logic supports the idea of a Sadiq and Ameen leader. But, the current context of these terms certainly lacks a standard set of definitions or preconditions- without which, the road ahead seems full of endless legal contentions.
Irfan Hussain in his article “looking for angels” best sums up this conundrum, stating: “I’m looking for angels because the recent SC verdict disqualifying Nawaz Sharif has set the bar for becoming a parliamentarian impossibly high for mere humans”.
A recent article quotes Justice Khosa claiming that “Clause (f) of Article 62 of the Constitution provides a feast of legal obscurities… (They) relate to a man’s state of mind and cannot be properly encompassed… why have such requirements in… the Constitution which cannot even be defined.”
The ruling party on its part is trying its best to amend the clauses. Last week Law Minister Zahid Hamid called for debates on amendments and asked for the matter to be taken up by the reforms committee. But, so far, this decision has witnessed intense opposition. Statements from PTI, PML-Q, JI, ANP and even JUI-F are blatantly denying support to PML-N on this issue. The ruling party would require ⅔ majority votes from both houses in order to actualize the amendments–which at the moment looks unattainable.
PMl-N’s reaching out to MQM has enabled it to harness some support in regards to this matter, as per the MQM suggestions ‘’the disqualification period could be set to 5 years instead of indefinite’’- this too, gained little traction with other opposition parties.
PML-N had hoped to add PPP weight on its side on the issue, many speculated that given PPP’s own precarious leadership records, they may side with ruling party to make amendments, but they too have backed out officially for now. It was article 63 that had gotten Yusuf Raza Gilani in hot waters back in 2012 and ironically, PPP back then tried to undertake similar amendment initiatives, which PML-N outright denied.
The opposition parties see the amendment attempts as PML-N trying to escape from accountability. While self-interest may be dictating initiatives or counter initiatives, one cannot ignore the deep fault lines in the understandings and definitions of the clauses. So, either the context should evolve in accordance to present day and age and entail clear definitions or all available options for leadership would have to evolve themselves in the light of the clauses.
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