Constitution is the fundamental, organic law or principles of government of men, embodied in written documents, or implied in the institutions and usages of the country or society; also, a written instrument embodying such organic law, and laying down fundamental rules and principles for the conduct of affairs.
From the definition above, the “Constitution” clearly defines roles, responsibilities, of every single member of the society including those who are elected to represent the society itself.
Since this is a document which governs our lives, it is of utmost importance that this document be read and understood by all, in order for democracy to flourish and a true system of checks and balances, as defined, may be implemented. Perhaps in Pakistan this may be a tall order, considering the literacy rate, arguably, lingering around 50%, while a person is considered literate if he/she is able to sign his/he name.
As Philip Johnson said, “A constitutional democracy is in serious trouble if its citizenry does not have a certain degree of education and civic virtue.” Perhaps this statement alone can explain the dire straits. The situation described herein puts a lot more responsibility on the shoulders of the “literate” to not only assume the driving seat, but also to ensure that information about rights and responsibilities is dispensed as far as their individual or collective capacity may allow.
The above is indeed the call of the hour and has never been more important than now. This statement is made after observing the very limited capability of comprehension of those who are elected to serve us and protect our rights. Most of the readers will agree that sadly, they all seem to be very well-versed and experts on articles like 248 and may create a lot of agitation if 63-1 is referred to. It appears almost comical when those at the helm of affairs are protesting and willing to go for long march, strikes, agitation, threaten with a movement of civil disobedience and what not. To all those calling for such measures and defending their rights against these articles, certain excerpts from the Constitution of Pakistan are presented below as they conveniently escape, both their attention and priority:
- Preamble: “Wherein principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance, and social justice, as enunciated in Islam, shall be observed.”
- Preamble: “Wherein adequate provision shall be made for the minorities freely to profess and practice their religions and develop their cultures”
- Preamble: “Wherein shall be guaranteed fundamental rights, including equality of status, of opportunity and before law, social, economic, and political justice, and freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship and association, subject to law and morality.”
- Preamble: “Wherein adequate provision shall be made to safeguard the legitimate interests of minorities and backward and depressed classes.”
The above are just a few examples (out of innumerable instances which reflect on the rights of a common man), only from the “Preamble” of the “Constitution of Pakistan”. Only these few lines reflect on the gross deprivation of fundamental rights to the masses, yet no one screams, proposes long marches, raises the voice of civil disobedience, and what not. Does it not add up to constitutional breach? Who will take action against these crimes of highest order, where a citizen cannot even register a case without paying the police, where the police themselves recommend employing personal security as the one we pay for are too busy protecting the interests of the ruling elite, where provisions of good medical facilities, security, education, etc., are the right of a select few only.
To all those who claim to have a mandate of 18 crore “Awam”, while it is good to know your rights and defend them, it is better to know your responsibilities and dispense them so that there is no need to defend your rights.
As Ronald Reagan once said, “Protecting the rights of even the least individual among us (the common man) is basically the only excuse the government has for even existing.” Any other excuse is simple lack of morality.