Constitutionalism Versus Political Expediency

The oft-repeated nobility of the initiative was noble neither in form nor in substance. No wonder the end results of the little that has been achieved are still being questioned, by both external as well as internal elements, in addition to being subjected to continual attempts to foil, directly or by proxy

June 24, 2017, 8:56 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: VOL. 10, NO. 21, June 23- 2017 (Asadh, 2074)

Recent incidents of accolades, arguments and assaults revolving around the ideas of breaking or renegotiating alliances, postponing election dates, or promising random constitutional changes amid political see-saw, are no doubt the effects of the hastily chosen initial approach of replacing, in 2006, an existing deep-rooted governance system, by the one that all dreamed of but none quite understood, except perhaps those very few with not so holy an agenda. “Hastily” and, most importantly, with total negligence to due process and sheer disregard for all established principles of constitutionalism. This original sin has led to a plethora of perverse actions in the name of political expediency, allowing a hodge-podge of often contradictory decisions, confusing even the best of the political analysts in their forecasts.

The oft-repeated nobility of the initiative was noble neither in form nor in substance. No wonder the end results of the little that has been achieved are still being questioned, by both external as well as internal elements, in addition to being subjected to continual attempts to foil, directly or by proxy. The confusion resulting from the prolonged political instability has further entailed exponential increase in financial, political and systemic corruption and mammoth disapproval of the traditionalists of party politics. The strength of non-traditionalists, which became obvious in the results of recent elections in many critical places, substantiates the observation.

Yet, one continues to notice that along with their constant refusal to accept responsibilities for past mistakes, the parties (right, left and center) project bouts of narcissism and lack of empathy and self-awareness, compounded by a compulsive fixation over the legitimacy of the change, although hugely flawed both in substance and form. Ignoring the cautiousness repeatedly suggested by neutral critiques, the leaders, even those representing parties with only a few members (that too from the same blood group), continue with their overbearing attitude of self-importance, omnipresence, and omnipotence, and some displaying their regular tantrum and wild rages, blaming all others for the mishaps of history (never accepting the boons of geography), yet enjoying the rents and perks withdrawn from the treasury of the same system they despise. Interestingly, while their lack of discernible conscience and moral compass in decision making is totally unpredictable, their extreme impatience for power and ministerial berths remains sky high.

That regular resorts to authoritarian approach have become common practice is now understood widely, but that such an approach would even be used to encroaching the norms of separation of powers (the fundamental norm in democratic polity) is shocking. The registering of the impeachment process (deemed to be of the highest importance in political sphere) against honest judicial officials merely fulfilling their duties of impartiality and de-registering the same without discussion, both based on whims of leaders who consider it their inherent right to ignore the law, makes a mockery of parliamentarianism. Sadly, these leaders do not even realize how hurtful they have been to those officials who have preserved an image of honesty and professionalism throughout their life and career. The leaders fail to see that their behavior has crippled and humiliated the system which protects them. No wonder, even with frequent breaches of election promises, they continue to be chosen to represent their constituencies and Vox populi. But that is because thanks to the system, as a matter of reality, they are selected, not elected. The contempt for constitutional process and the rule of law is intense and obvious.

It may be added that the causal relationship between the political economy and constitutional, legal and institutional behaviors cannot be overstated. Even a bad choice, if deriving from a good process, has the potential of being accepted. But a decision however good it may be, if emanating from an undue, incomplete and non-transparent process, is sure to fail. This happens to be the reality the engineers of change blissfully ignored.

It may seem opportune to add a perspective surfacing from the review of autobiographies by numerous heavy-weight politicians, senior bureaucrats and military leaders of recent years (space constraint prevents from listing them). These publications, although mostly humble bragging, certainly need to be admired as useful contributions to an aspect of history. They help to shed lights on the different angles of our governance system that many only speculated but did not actually know. But, more importantly, all these publications notoriously share with the grand public how deep the confusion was rooted in our society, how blurry the system was in the past, how individualism has negatively affected political parties, and how difficult it can be to implement change. The situation, therefore, remains the same, but the hopes of millions for a change are not altogether dead!  

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