Constitutional Morality a sine qua non to elegant government

1 February 2013 06:30 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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By  Afreeha Jawad

Much of the world’s confusion and chaos has been triggered off due to a shortfall in statesmanship. Politics and statesmanship are two highly polarised entities. A politician acts within a narrow,  self - interested and petty enclave whereas a statesman rises above the fray, goes beyond man made physical and emotional boundaries, takes decisions conforming to truth and justice even at the risk of losing popular support. Two glaring instances of high degree statesmanship came off Abraham Lincoln when he abolished slavery, not to forget Nelson Mandela who walked out from his prison cell on the assurance from his own people that every white man’s freedom was ensured.



The need for political leadership to align itself with a higher purpose is more important today than ever before. If one of the characteristics of a state is its population, an all inclusive constitutional approach that guarantees the rights and safety of one and all is expected. The dangers of walking into a highly centralised constitution are the absence of ałl-inclusiveness, the disregard for an independent judiciary and scant respect for the ‘due process’ - the hall-mark of a fair trial where the right to be heard is sacrosanct. The word sovereignty is founded on the two words 'soul reign’. When sections of a state’s populace are marginalised and fragmented on ethno/religious/socio/cultural / political and economic grounds coupled with the absence of due process, the ‘soul reigning’ effort or sovereignty itself is undermined. Autocracy veiled in democracy becomes inevitably operative. As the cliché saying goes justice not only should be done but also should seem to be done. An infringement on the birthright of a human by denying his right to be heard is a far cry if not a distant wail from statesmanship. Given the very divine nature of the word sovereignty where the citizenry’s collective conscience thirsts for moral leadership, it is the duty of power wielders to rise in stature and conform to the soul stirring ideals in democracy. A state’s legitimacy is strengthened and elegant governance prevails when ‘due process’ is applied not only in the precincts of a court house but even in an inquiry however small that may be. Appointing committees alone would not suffice when the accused is denied the right to be heard - part of a fair trial - all of which speaks of elegant governance. Any arbitrary act on the part of the state is a humiliation of the people themselves who create and sustain what is called the state.

" Two glaring instances of high degree statesmanship came off Abraham Lincoln when he abolished slavery not to forget Nelson Mandela who walked out from his prison cell on the assurance from his own people that every white man’s freedom was ensured "

 The wholesomeness and integrity embedded in an all -inclusive approach reaches out to a higher concept of universalism which bears testimony to good governance. In contemporary thinking the failure to arrive at upholding such high ideals that democracy could offer is often justified by human weakness and at what cost one may ask?. For instance the drafting of a country’s constitution is a responsible, divine task where human dignity, equality and justice are or rather should be key areas of concern for therein lies social development . The more centralised a constitution the greater the call for uniformity.

This then not only moves away from all-inclusiveness, it even leads to a violation of human rights by treading on due process as well. For instance demanding conformity from communities that have their distinct socio/religious / cultural identities and the non - implementation of due process which demands a person's right to be heard are two sides of the same coin.

" A state’s legitimacy is strengthened and elegant governance prevails when ‘due process’ is applied not only in the precincts of a court house but even in an inquiry however small that may be "

The high degree with which Pakistan upholds its judiciary’s independence and its citizenry’s alł-inclusiveness is abundantly clear in its 1973 constitution which reduced presidential powers and moved away from  the centralised constitution that was coupled with a judiciary that saw a higher placement over other state organs namely the executive and legislature. This then is the effective functioning of democracy where constitutional safeguards sanctified people’s sovereignty.
With the prevailing dearth in the world’s moral leadership where the absence of the rule of law prevails, such exalted positioning of the judiciary must necessarily be the outcome of elegant constitutional drafting.

Very little or nothing at all is spoken of in preventing social unrest.

" What’s more, the present embarrassment faced by countries when outsiders step in calling for the rule of law could be neatly avoided following the rectification of constitutional inadequacies by this institutional mechanism "

Why wait for social upheavals? The best way out would be for an enlightened world body that will scrutinise all would be constitutions in order to prevent bad governance in the making, the world over, which reminded this writer of a profound utterance coming off the Police OIC Anura Gunawardena. ‘’Crime prevention is far more cost effective than crime solution so is it with disease prevention - not disease cure,’’ he said.

A separate organ within the UN to oversee and pinpoint unjust draft constitutions would lead to international stable governance. What’s more, the present embarrassment faced by countries when outsiders step in calling for the rule of law could be neatly avoided following the rectification of constitutional inadequacies by this institutional mechanism. Yet if constitutional morality is to prevail followed by egalitarianism and rule of law whither all those arms deals amidst social upheavals?
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