Na­tional in­ter­est

The Pak Banker - - 4editorial - Mu­jahid Eshai

Na­tional in­ter­est has to be the supreme driv­ing force at all times for politi­cians. No pur­pose may be served by a knee-jerk re­ac­tion and turn­ing ev­ery dif­fer­ing view­point into an is­sue af­fect­ing the in­ter­ests of the coun­try

The New In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Delhi is very wellplanned, the Metro un­der­ground train, al­though over­crowded, is cheap, clean and still ex­pand­ing, the new roads are four lanes-wide and the fly­overs are as good as any in the world, yet the road traf­fic is still as bad as ever and poverty can still be seen and felt on the In­dian road­side. Peo­ple on the streets are still talk­ing about the IPL, the Com­mon­wealth Games and the tele­com fi­nan­cial scan­dals. Mean­while, The Sun­day Times, on Novem­ber 28, 2010, car­ried this head­line: ' Delhi Court calls for FIR against Roy, Gee­lani'. For those who are not fa­mil­iar with these two names, let one as­sure them that Roy and Gee­lani are not a mixed dou­bles pair for any ten­nis tour­na­ment but only Ms Arund­hati Roy, the renowned writer and hu­man rights ac­tivist, and Syed Ali Shah Gee­lani, a Hur­riyet leader of Kash­mir. The Delhi Metropoli­tan Court mag­is­trate or­dered that a prima fa­cie case for the sedi­tion of­fence be made out. The mag­is­trate said, "I have come to the con­clu­sion that the com­plaint dated 28/10/10, lodged with the po­lice, clearly dis­closes com­mis­sion of cog­nis­able of­fences. But the po­lice have failed to reg­is­ter an FIR even though it is duty bound to reg­is­ter an FIR." Roy and Gee­lani had par­tic­i­pated along with the pro-Maoist leader Vara Rao in a sem­i­nar on Azadi where Roy said that Kash­mir "has never been an in­te­gral part of In­dia".

Ms Roy, bold and out­spo­ken as she al­ways is, was re­ported by the afore­said news­pa­per to have re­torted to the mag­is­trate's de­ci­sion by say­ing, "Per­haps, they should posthu­mously file a charge against Jawa­har­lal Nehru too," and went on to quote 14 in­stances of the pledges made by the Nehru and sub­se­quent gov­ern­ments from 1947 to 1967, ac­knowl­edg­ing that Kash­mir's ac­ces­sion was sub­ject to rat­i­fi­ca­tion by its peo­ple. The Sun­day Times in par­tic­u­lar quoted the speech of Pun­dit sahib made in 1952: "Kash­mir is very close to our minds and hearts and if, by some de­cree or ad­verse for­tune, ceases to be a part of In­dia, it will be a wrench and a pain and tor­ment for us. If, how­ever, the peo­ple of Kash­mir do not wish to re­main with us, let them go by all means. We will not keep them against their will, how­ever painful it may be to us. I want to stress that it is only the peo­ple of Kash­mir who can de­cide the fu­ture of Kash­mir."

On Novem­ber 30, 2010, the Times of In­dia re­ported that the FIR had fi­nally been lodged. Now this has hap­pened de­spite the fact that the union home min­is­ter was not re­ally in­ter­ested in tak­ing no­tice of the mat­ter and had stated at the time of fil­ing of the com­plaint in Oc­to­ber 2010 that, "at times, tak­ing no ac­tion is also an ac­tion". Only time will tell what hap­pens once the hear­ings start and a de­ci­sion is ar­rived at. But it is most cer­tainly an ex­am­ple of ju­di­cial in­de­pen­dence that needs to be taken no­tice of by the leg­is­la­tors and politi­cians in Pak­istan. The union min­is­ter's dis­in­ter­est in pur­su­ing the mat­ter or even tak­ing no­tice of the com­plaint has not turned into me­dia hype or po­lit­i­cal point scor­ing.

The ob­jec­tive of writ­ing about this par­tic­u­lar in­ci­dent in de­tail is three-fold. One, to tell our very own democrats that there is a world be­yond hav­ing a ver­bal fist fight on ev­ery oc­ca­sion even if some­one has al­legedly made sedi­tious state­ments.

Two, the politi­cians must per­mit the ju­di­ciary to be seen to func­tion as to­tally in­de­pen­dent of the ex­ec­u­tive or leg­is­la­ture. The courts must pur­sue, how­so­ever they deem fit, the law and pro­ce­dure and the po­lice must re­main an­swer­able to the courts, in­de­pen­dent of what the govern­ment may or may not de­sire. Three, the peo­ple at large, and that in­cludes ev­ery politician re­gard­less of his or her stature, must also fol­low the le­gal course for reg­is­ter­ing the com­plaint with­out tak­ing the law into their own hands. This hap­pens in ev­ery po­lit­i­cally aware and ma­ture so­ci­ety that sin­cerely be­lieves in demo­cratic norms and has shed the shack­les of feu­dal­is­tic be­hav­iour to­tally.

Of course, there may have been other po­lit­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tions that the union min­is­ter took into ac­count when mak­ing the state­ment of no ac­tion re­ferred to above. Per­haps he was of the opin­ion that the na­tional in­ter­ests of In­dia may not be served if al­leged sedi­tious state­ments were taken no­tice of.

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