Criticism of politicians and public office holders

It is an accepted norm that those involved in politics or holding any public office must have the tolerance and patience to withstand criticism. This is as much an Islamic tradition as it is a democratic requirement. It is only in cults that their leaders or followers refuse to exhibit any tolerance for criticism and dissent. Fascism nurtures, when such cults hold any paid or elected public office.

While addressing the officers at Staff College Quetta on 14 June 1948, MAJ elaborated on the obligations of those who pledge an oath to uphold the constitution. He stated that ‘the executive authority flows from the Head of the Government of Pakistan”, and therefore any command or orders that may come to you cannot come without the sanction of the Executive Head”. He reminded them of their oath which binds them to uphold the constitution and obey the elected executive head.

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The 1973 Constitution, while it simultaneously requires all citizens to respect the Judiciary and armed forces, it makes it obligatory on both these institutions to work within their constitutionally defined corridors, and under no circumstances be seen to be involved in politics. Ever since the Law of Necessity was invoked to regularize unconstitutional and supra constitutional acts of individuals and dictators, the judiciary involved in these decisions, has been subjected to criticism and public ridicule. However, those members of the judiciary who complied with their oath to uphold the constitution continue to enjoy immunity from public scrutiny, whilst their judgments once given are open to criticism. This also holds true for our sensitive state institutions like the armed forces. Anyone involved in politics, directly or indirectly, is open to public scrutiny, because their politicized actions and decisions impact the lives of citizens.

Malik Tariq Ali

Lahore

Editor's Mail
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