Writ and appeasement | By Sirajuddin Aziz


Writ and appeasement

WE as a nation have been experiencing swings in emotions for the last several weeks. The pendulum has moved from extreme sentiments of delight to severe bouts of depression.

The former has been largely due to an exceptional performance of our cricketers at ICC- T-20 and the latter is due to the now disbanded long march towards Islamabad by the protestors who had put to bin the writ of the State.

A crisis that was in brewing was ignored. It eventually gathered storm that became unmanageable and ungovernable.
The country was hostage to a handful — who were dictating their unrealistic terms to be met by the Government.

Appeasement creates more terror and fear; it never does, root out the raison d’etre of any issue, real or perceived.

No Government should forget that once it loses, it’s moral responsibility and right to establish the writ, it would fail to justify its rightful legal use of the writ of the state to bring order out of chaos.

In Common Law, a writ is a formal written order issued by a body with administrative or judicial jurisdiction.

In a form of government that comes to power through electoral process, the writ of the State lies within its scope of not merely maintaining it but also to ensure its establishment and strict adherence, by all sections of the population, regardless of the existence of an electoral opposition. Unfortunately, the government dithered in dealing with the crisis that eventually erupted.

As a citizen of this blessed nation, there was restoration of pride when several Ministers made statements that we would not deal with peace breakers, trouble makers and challengers to the writ of the State.

However, like all aspects of our national behaviour, a subject that should have remained in the domain of Interior Ministry, became soon, a subject of comment by all Cabinet Ministers.

In this milieu, how could, the ever hyper active electronic media of ours remain silent. They had all shades and types of security experts and pseudo political analysts, who liberally gave their versions of how to handle the very exploitative situation.

Just as the ministers appeared as motley lot of confused individuals, so were those in media. From negotiations to use of brute force was put on the table by them.

Adding spice to these unfortunate developments was the insinuation that some hidden overseas hands were pouring monetary support to this crowd of protesters. The first team of negotiators from the government failed to break ice; they were distrusted because they had said, what should have been said, that the State will not cow down.

Instead the government buckled and formed a new team which was acceptable to the protestors. Sad compromise, but true , that it happened. They were successful.

The terms of agreement remain shrouded in obscurity. The protestors have now vacated the place and roads are available for their original and rightful use, that is promoting economic activity.

Of the many demands the most regrettable was the expulsion of a diplomat. If the demand wasn’t ridiculous enough, the response that the concerned diplomat was not present in the country anyway made us a laughing stock.

Will Pakistan’s foreign policy be framed on the streets of our country? The common man on the street is not trained in the art of diplomacy, this has to be explained to people.

Z A Bhutto used to educate the masses on diplomacy and the need for foreign economic collaboration; the policy was framed elsewhere, but the politician he was, he made the people feel that they had designed the policy.

First, the state declared these protestors to be a defunct lot, and then engaged with them as equals. Where are we heading? Where is our nations sense of balance? Have we lost it all?

Firstly, the agreement with the dissidents is decided to be kept secret. Why? Secondly, the country gets to know that those who have blood on their hands, have been released from any responsibility or accountability.

Shocking that the responsibility for the loss of innocent lives of the law enforcers will not be established.

How much more will the nation bend backwards to this sought of militancy. In any conflict situations undeniably and admittedly the best course of action is to pursue negotiations tirelessly.

The use of force should only remain a deterrent. But to make negotiations subservient to violence from the opposite party tantamounts to surrender to threat and intimidation. No nation can afford to be intimidated by its citizens. While respect for civility is essential, so is the need for graceful calm and peace.

As I write this piece, I hear from various TV channels that those arrested during the days of protest are being released unconditionally with assurance that they will not be pursued legally.

Have the law enforcers arrested wrongly over 1000 innocents? If yes, they aught to be released! No questions on that! The economic loss caused, who is responsible? We can as usual turn a blind eye.

We learnt nothing from the Islamabad incident, where students from a seminary , challenged the authority of the State.

President Musharraf regrettably engaged through negotiations, which may have borne fruit, but each single day he and his government were being egged by TV anchors to take action and establish the writ.

Finally, he did. Paid a price. The same anchors then let loose a barrage that innocent were eliminated. They gave exaggerated numbers. The arrogant amongst them no longer have any screen life. Boomeranged. By nature.

To rub salt into the wounds of our law enforcers and their mourning families, just heard on the TV that a political party has decided not to rule out of an electoral alliance with the militant brigade! Opportunists to the core.

Do we still wonder, why we are on grey list? The current government must take responsibility for making dharna a political fashion.

What goes round comes around. Parliament is the place for political scoring, policy making and establishing the various “Writs of the State”. Not the streets, motorways or D- Chowk.

Till when should this hapless nation wait for intelligence, intellect, education, decency, grace, poise and wisdom to descend upon our politicians? Is that a big ask? While we wait for this impossible to happen, let’s celebrate and enjoy cricket…God willing into the Finals…Victory at hand.

—The writer is a contributing columnist, based in Karachi.

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