Pakistan’s New “Politics by References”

Posted on June 22, 2007
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Politics
39 Comments
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Adil Najam

Pakistan seems to be in a whole new phase of ‘politics by References.’

Gen. Musharraf set the tone for what seems to be an emerging fashion with his now notorious Reference against Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. Then it was the MQM members of the National Assembly moving their reference against Imran Khan for his ‘moral lapses.’ Now it is Opposition members moving their own reference against Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.Here is what The News is reporting:

The speaker of the National Assembly has forwarded the disqualification reference against Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, which was filed by opposition members of National Assembly Thursday in the chamber of Speaker National Assembly.

The opposition members in the reference have demanded of the speaker to send it to Election Commission within 30 days. A reference, signed by 31 opposition members, stated that prime minister is not eligible for Assembly membership under articles 62 and 63 of the constitution.

According to a charge framed in the reference, prime minister had caused stock market crisis through his front man Arif Habib and earned the money by illegal means. Privatization of Steel Mills also mentioned in the reference and stated that the verdict of the Supreme Court in this connection is sufficient for disqualification of the prime minister.

Addressing a news conference in Parliament cafeteria after filing the reference, opposition members Liaquat Baloch, Khurshid Shah and Khwaja Asif said that speaker is bound to forward the reference to the Election Commission within 30 days. They demanded the speaker to send the reference against Shaukat Aziz with the same swiftness with which he sent the reference against Imran Khan to Election Commission.

I must say, I do not like any of these references. Mostly because I do not like the idea of ‘Politics by References.’

Individual references could well have merit and as a political tool they are perfectly legitimate. However, what this new “Politics by References” signifies is an urge to use this particular tool because other political tools are either unavailable or have become defunct. In being so, this “Politics by References” is an indicator of an assault on politics. Not just ‘democratic politics’, but politics.

When political processes and options are restricted, political operatives (whether they are elected or not) find alternative means by which to indulge in politics. At the very extreme these ‘alternative means’ are violent. That is why the democratic political space must never be constricted.

In general, it is better for politics to be played out in the arena of public will and public voice, rather than through the legalities and technicalities of references. However, when the politics of public voice is constrained, it is then that the politics of technicalities takes center stage.

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39 responses to “Pakistan’s New “Politics by References””

  1. Kruman says:

    Saad,
    If you are looking for the latest before the newspapers come out, try
    http://daily.urdupoint.com/

    These guys and bbcurdu.com are the first ones to post the latest on the supreme court hearings.

  2. Saad says:

    Thanks a lot Kruman, really appreciate it.

  3. Kruman says:

    ‘SC won’t consider counter-affidavits’
    http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=20076\28  \story_28-6-2007_pg1_3

    A major setback for Musharaf as the supreme court refuses to hear counter affidavits filed by DG MI, DG IB and Musharraf’s chief of staff.

    Just reposting in a politically correct manner because my politically incorrect comments above will likely get cut by ATP moderators.

  4. Kruman says:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/story/2007/06/0 70627_sc_hearing_fz.shtml

    In the middle of the article there is comment by Justice Ramday that we don’t want to look at the affidavits filed by the 3 generals. Upon hearing this Aitzaz says that if the bench if not going to look at these affidavits he’ll not give arguments against them.

    Earlier in his arguments Aitzaz had asked the bench to discard these affidavits alleging that they contained forgeries and lies.

    Legal experts had been saying from day one that the affidavits filed by the three generals were BS, since they did not contain material relevent to the original reference.

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