By Humayun Gauhar
Since the Constitution says that Pakistan is an Islamic republic it becomes incumbent upon the State to follow God’s Islam in the Quran. Very important is God’s injunction not to hate someone so much that you cannot do justice to him. Those who don’t understand this have to be flawed Muslims.
If this Divine advice applies to all State institutions it is reflected in executive and judicial procedures and judgments. They have to realize that they too will be judged one day, if not on earth then certainly in Heaven where the Judge will be God, the ultimate Chief Justice. Those who understand this recognize their cosmic insignificance and don’t take themselves too seriously. Such people aren’t pompous, obsessed with protocol, pomp and panoply. They know that when they appear in God’s Court they will be alone so they should not play mini-god in their own little courts for God knows all and He knows best.
This is not to say that dispensing justice is not indispensible, but done injudiciously, with partiality, without due process, balance and equity, not remaining within the parameters of God’s laws in a state based on religion makes justice a deficient pantomime and abhorrent to the Almighty.
We call ourselves an Islamic republic but in essence we are neither. But since our constitution says so we have no option but to go on hypocritically pretending that Pakistan is Islamic and a republic. Actually, it has become a criminal state where rulers loot the people; a model of what a modern Islamic State and republic ought not to be. While hypocrisy is a grave sin in Islam, we have hypocritically created a two-faced facade of an Islamic state where the essence of Islam is missing. Instead, worship of the Golden Calf is the essence based on ‘might is right’ and flourishing. We have created the deceitful facade of British parliamentary democracy but the essence of democracy is missing. Instead dynasticism is the essence and thriving.
I am talking of God’s Islam in the Quran, not its myriad interpretations foisted on us by de facto clerics masquerading as scholars. God’s Islam is about the inalienable rights of His Creations, especially of Man. It is about welfare, societal balance or adl, real democracy, egalitarianism, justice, equity and due process. The Quran is a code of life, thus it is not only spiritual but secular and worldly too. It is about God and his Unity and the wellbeing and welfare of Man, his right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, equal opportunities, a dignified life, his right to develop his mind to its fullest potential and so much more.
Amongst Man’s many obligations is to choose his leadership from his community and choose from amongst the best. Pakistan has consistently failed in this and continuously chooses from amongst the worst. Our human condition is pathetic to the point of defying description and getting worse. We wrongly translate our name ‘Pakistan’ as ‘Land of the Pure’. Instead, we are ruled by the impure and have become the ‘Land of the Poor’ – poor in every respect, not just materially but in Faith, mind and values.
Instead of living up to what we so pompously claim, we thoughtlessly hold our much-mutilated constitution that spews alien colonial systems so dear that one would imagine that it is a divine book, not one made by feeble, self-serving man designed to keep all the levers of power in the hands of a small ruling class that preys on the people – “Eagles snatch the morsels of the weak,” said the poet Faiz. “Whenever the flesh of workers is sold in bazaars and the blood of the poor flows on the streets, such a volcano erupts in my breast that I cannot describe. I lose control over my heart.”
It is vital for a State to have a workable constitution that delivers and ensures societal balance, the dispensation of real justice and good governance. Some 23,000 cases are pending before the Supreme Court while some 2.6 million await hearing in the entire judiciary. Many undertrial prisoners have spent more time in prison than they would have had they been convicted. Is this justice Islamic style – imprison God’s greatest Creation and throw away the key? Is this justice any style?
A constitution is based on a people’s social contract and is the basic law from which all laws and systems emanate. But it is neither more important than God’s law nor the State it is supposed to serve. If there were no State there would be no constitution. If the State falls the constitution falls. If the constitution falls the State still lives and could get a better constitution. When a constitution starts harming a State and its citizens, it must either be corrected or a new one made based on our original social contract, Mr. Jinnah’s speech of August 11, 1947 that was shelved and replaced by the Objectives Resolution determining two years after achieving the objective why we had sought it. Ridiculous. We have changed our constitution 20 times so far, but only for the worse.
Everyone should not only read God’s law but also try and understand it, particularly those who are makers of laws and dispensers of justice in an Islamic state. To understand the concept of justice and due process in Islam read and reflect on verses 36:65, 24:24 and 41:19-23 in the Quran. God says that on the Day of Judgment He will call our hands and feet, as too our skins, hearing and sight as witnesses “as to [our] deeds.”
Why does God who knows everything need to call witnesses? To show how important due process is, that every soul be satisfied that justice has been done to it because it has been judged on the basis of incontrovertible evidence. If the Almighty needs to follow due process, who the hell is puny Man not to follow it meticulously regardless of the accused’s station in life? If all are equal before God they have to be equal before judges.
On Judgment Day we will be judged by our deeds, our intentions behind them and the amount of knowledge we have gained, digested, understood and acted upon. God couldn’t care less if we were king or chief judge, how much wealth we accumulated. What matters is how honestly we discharged our responsibilities and what we did with the wealth entrusted to us by Him, for all wealth belongs to the Almighty some of which he gives to us as a trust to spend on ourselves sensibly and on those in need. It is a very socialist concept except that in Islam all wealth belongs to God who is Perfect while in socialism it belongs to the State that is made and run by imperfect man.
You decide: do our State and its systems, particularly its various justice systems run along Islamic lines? Do our justice systems measure up to states not based on religion? Is the constitution more important or the State? Do the beneficiaries of the status quo equate the State with the constitution to preserve their benefits? Whether there are millions of undertrial prisoners awaiting trial while the powerful get stay orders and are qualified to contest elections to hold leadership positions while the relatively weak are disqualified? Where huge defaulters get away to occupy positions in which they can continue adding to their ill-gotten wealth? Answer truthfully and hang your head in shame. Then they expect us to choose from amongst the best when they ensure that only the worst are on offer.
Is it impartial for a judge to suggest that if a citizen files a petition before us to ask the State to try someone for treason, or is it incitement? Is it impartial for a judge to get stroppy when the government doesn’t do so or is it overstepping? Yet it was good that Justice Jawad Khwaja said in General Musharraf’s case: “We will do justice in a way that justice will be seen to have been done. We will give [a] verdict keeping in view [the] law and [the] Constitution…Only those stand scared who are not with the truth…There should be no double standards. Discrimination between the haves and have-nots should come to an end now. The era of lords is no more here.”
Big words indeed, but why would a Supreme Court judge have to say this in a normal country where it is understood to prevail? Because some judges aware that justice doesn’t always prevail, that there are misgivings about judicial impartiality. It gives the cat away but it’s good that some judges are sensitive to these concerns. In saying that ‘discrimination between the haves and have-nots should come to an end now” is an inadvertent admission that such discrimination exists. But the “era of lords” still persists; perhaps the good judge was expressing a desire.
These words will only become big when they are translated into action, though one should thank the judge for even saying so in a country where hardly anyone does. Only when judges live up to this claim will we know who really is scared of the truth and who is not.
Ask yourself one more question. At the cusp of elections, why is terrorism increasing in all provinces except in the Punjab? Coincidence? Or is suo moto meant only for a pretty girl’s alleged bottles?