It pains me to read yet another piece of sensational investigative journalism by Ansar Abbasi that appeared on back page of Daily Jang (25 April 2010) and The News (24th April, 2010). The sub heading in Jang is mindboggling saying “the 18th Amendment might even allow convicted local spies of the RAW, the CIA, the FBI and even Mossad to become members of parliament and even aspire to become the prime minister of the country.”
I have no idea what Ansar Abbasi thinks of while writing. Since the passage of the 18th Amendment, Ansar Abbasi along with other (so called) investigative journalists have been doing their best to bring the parliament and the judiciary at loggerheads.
In this piece of “investigative journalism” (probably at the behest of an investigative agency), Senator SM Zafar has been interviewed as well who has also found the interpretation of having a foreign agent as a prime minister hard to digest. He suggests that scope needs to be kept limited while interpreting 63-1 J else there is no limit.
If one goes by the interpretation of Ansar Abbasi, then anyone who ever jokes about the army or the judiciary can be a foreign agent! Get a life!
Here is the miserable piece of “unbiased” investigative journalism by Ansar Abbasi:
Convicts can grab top political posts
Saturday, April 24, 2010
By Ansar Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: The most dangerous aspect of the 18th Amendment is to open the doors of parliament to any convict, who may have been sentenced for propagating or acting in any manner prejudicial to the ideology, sovereignty, integrity and security of Pakistan.
This provision of the 18th Amendment might even allow convicted local spies of the RAW, the CIA, the FBI and even Mossad to become members of parliament and even aspire to become the prime minister of the country. The only constitutional bar for them to contest for the membership of the national or provincial assemblies or the Senate is to wait for five years after release from jail.
Eminent constitutional expert and Senator SM Zafar, who was also member of the constitutional reform committee of parliament, when approached, feared that the said provision could be stretched and interpreted to any length.
He, however, said that in his view connecting it to the serious offence of spying would be an unfair interpretation of the provision, which according to him should be restricted to the meanings and types of propagation against the ideology, sovereignty, integrity and security of Pakistan.
The 18th Amendment inserted a new Article 63(1)(j) which reads as: 63. Disqualifications for membership of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament). (1) A person shall be disqualified from being elected or chosen as, and from being, a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament), (j) he has been convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction for propagating any opinion, or acting in any manner, prejudicial to the ideology of Pakistan, or the sovereignty, integrity or security of Pakistan, or the integrity or independence of the judiciary of Pakistan, or which defames or brings into ridicule the judiciary or the Armed Forces of Pakistan, unless a period of five years has elapsed since his release.”
The said constitutional provision also shows leniency towards the convicts, who have propagated or acted in any manner against the independence and judiciary of Pakistan or have defamed or ridiculed the judiciary and the armed forces.
Senator SM Zafar said the said provision could be interpreted in extensive manner by anyone but he would read it within the limited scope of propagation. When his attention was drawn that in the said provision the expression “acting in any manner” is even used, he said that according to his interpretation this expression is used for the purpose of propagation in any manner.
In the pre-18th amendment constitution, such convicts were disqualified to become member of the national and provincial assemblies or Senate for life. In the pre-18th amendment constitution, it was Article 61(1)(g) which was dealing with such offences. It read as: 63. (1) A person shall be disqualified from being elected or chosen as, and from being, a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament), if- (g) he is propagating any opinion, or acting in any manner, prejudicial to the ideology of Pakistan, or the sovereignty, integrity or security of Pakistan, or morality, or the maintenance of public order, or the integrity or independence of the judiciary of Pakistan, or which defames or brings into ridicule the judiciary or the Armed Forces of Pakistan;”
It should be stated here that the 18th constitutional bill has also removed life time bar from becoming member of the Parliament on the convicts of crimes like corruption, misuse of authority, moral turpitude, absconders etc.
18th Amendment, Na Manzoor
The 18th amendment: “A mother can give birth to a child but could not kill the child.” – by Khalid Wasti
Constitutional amendments can’t be challenged in Supreme Court: Aitzaz Ahsan