Why you should think twice before embracing Zaid Hamid

Pakistan’s current conditions are far from encouraging, as the government struggles to combat extremism and continues to fall short of addressing the needs of the common man. Citizens can even be forgiven for embracing revolutionary doctrine in hopes of changing the fortunes of the nation. However, when hyper-nationalism aligns itself with ignorance of history, we are led to an ideology that is flawed, distorted but most importantly tried and tested.  Zaid Hamid has persistently advocated for the dissolution of the elected government in favor of a caretaker government selected by the Supreme Court with the military’s backing.

A brief analysis of our nation’s history shows Zaid Hamid’s philosophy to be far from revolutionary. General Ayub Khan held the same values when he (along with Iskander Mirza in 1958) dismissed the elected government, dissolved the constitution (with the blessing of the corrupt judiciary) and established the infamous “basic democracies” system. This political structure’s shining moments included a vicious election campaign against Fatimah Jinnah and the eventual disintegration of East Pakistan.  Zaid Hamid’s caretaker government in all likelihood would only prolong military rule, reduce political participation amongst the people and corrupt a judiciary that is currently redeeming itself from its past sins.

Zaid Hamid also wants the Supreme Court to handpick “Good Muslims” that would satisfy Article 62/63 of the Constitution. The judicial system did address this proposal in the Punjab Disturbances Report of 1954:

“The sublime faith called Islam will live even if our leaders are not there to enforce it. It lives in the individual, in his soul and outlook, in all his relations with God and men, from the cradle to the grave, and our politicians should understand that if Divine commands cannot make or keep a man a Musalman, their statutes will not.”- Justice Munir

The judiciary refrained from endorsing a theory of a Nation-State that catered around subjective Islamic morals and standards. It is no coincidence that a military ruler was responsible for invoking such subjective morals into the constitution. The judiciary and the military cannot work synonymously over stretched periods of time, as General Musharraf’s demise in 2008 showed. The military has been unable to select a lawmaking branch that has satisfied the people’s needs over a stretched period of time (Basic Democracies and the Majlis-e-Shoora).

Zaid Hamid desperately seeks the creation of a political structure that established itself long before any organic political order developed in Pakistan. Allowing such an order to establish itself yet again would eliminate any lingering hope of sustained democracy in Pakistan.

What India’s Varun Gandhi can teach Pakistan’s Fatima Bhutto?

Fatima Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto’s estranged niece, has been writing articles and running a constant campaign against her uncle, President Asif Ali Zardari. Her articles have become more bitter with time. She and her stepmother Ghenwa Bhutto have campaigned against Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and her widower without much political gain. They could learn something from the estranged members of the Nehru-Gandhi family in India.

Maneka Gandhi, the widow of Sanjay Gandhi, brother of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, has been hostile to the more politically successful branch of the family for years. Now her son Varun Gandhi has entered politics on the side of his family party’s rival, the BJP. But while Maneka and Varun have found political success for themselves they have not wasted their time and energy on just trying to pull down the Rajiv Gandhi branch of the family –unlike Ghenwa and Fatima.

Maneka served as a Member of Parliament and even became a minister. Now her son Varun has become an MP for the BJP. When Varun showed up for the swearing-in of parliamentarians, he was courteous to his aunt Sonia Gandhi and was extremely civil with his cousin Rahul, who might some day become Prime Minister like his father Rajiv, his grandmother Indira and his great-grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru.

Now, why can’t our Fatima Bhutto follow Varun’s example and enter politics effectively while being civil to her uncle and his family? Instead of just being a spoiler for the Benazir Bhutto family, she could then make some contribution even if it means joining the Pakistan Muslim League that her grandfather Zulfikar Ali Bhutto broke away from to form the more successful social-democratic Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

Here’s the Times of India article, Family Feud Melts for a Bit as Varun, Rahul greet their aunts:

New Delhi (PTI): They may be on opposite sides of the political divide but that did not come in the way of exchanging basic courtsey—exchanging greetings and smile.

BJP MP from Pilibhit Varun Gandhi greeted his aunt and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi with folded hands before taking oath as Lok Sabha member while his cousin and Congress MP from Amethi Rahul Gandhi greeted his aunt Maneka Gandhi on Tuesday.

While the Congress president was visibly happy watching Varun read out his oath in Hindi, Maneka had a broad smile when Rahul took oath in English.

Maneka also thumped the desk as Rahul was sworn in as a member.

Varun became a member for the first time after he won the Pilibhit seat, represented by his mother Maneka earlier, in the elections last month.

As Feroze Varun Gandhi, the name by which he was called to take oath, came forward, he did a ‘namaste’ to his aunt who was seated in the front row of the treasury benches.

Priyanka Gandhi, who was in the Speaker’s Gallery along with husband Robert Vadra, was also seen smiling as the member from Pilibhit took oath.

Rahul also greeted Leader of the Opposition L K Advani and other BJP leaders and extended the same gesture to Maneka, who was seated in the second row of opposition benches, from a distance.

Priyanka and Robert Vadra left the gallery after Varun and Rahul took oath.