Politics of Lock down: Violation of fundamental rights and civil liberties

Politics of Lock down: Violation of fundamental rights and civil liberties

Pakistan government was all geared up to bridle the prearranged lock down by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf Chairperson Imran Khan. Before the practical implementation of lock down call by the PTI, it was the government who has been found forced shut down of the city in strong apprehension.

However, the calling off the lock down raised the question not only on the reliability of PTI but also very evidently showed that Government is not well equipped to deal with such crisis. It is evident by the incidents in twin cities that government was way too serious to demonstrate full-fledged resentment against the call.

The concern for the common people was that what will be the outcome of this tussle of the political giants, will it be fruitful or will it be another strike on the stability and mandate of the government. Undoubtedly, during this show of powers, be it in 2014 or recent events, it is the common people who have suffered fervently.

Blocking the roads, shutting down markets and educational institutes proves no way in solving the issues of governance. Nevertheless, recent imposition of Section 144 of Code of Criminal Procedure showed that Government clearly intended not to let things took turn like they did in D chowk in 2014.

Laws in Pakistan be it Pakistan Penal Code, Constitution of Pakistan or Anti-terrorism Laws, numerous clauses will be found which declares severe punishments in case of breach of 144. But on the other hand, Constitution of Pakistan generously provides clauses to safeguard one’s rights for any peaceful protest as well.

Articles such as, 15, 17, 19 which clearly speaks of one’s right to assemble peacefully and without arms and to form associations or unions and to have freedom of speech and expression, though the rights provided by the Constitution are not unbridled, they very well trigger the responsibility of state to look into any such matter with the lens of national security, law and order and public safety.

Recent imposition of Section 144 was justified in this manner. What was not justified was the retort of both conflicting parties towards each other. Be it government taking care of its prestige or the opponent party enforcing its stance it’s the common people who suffers vehemently. Death of an infant or beating of a member of a law agency cannot be justified in any terms.

Excessive and hazardous force and weapons used by the law enforcing agencies in disputably raised questions about the limitation on means and methods of enforcing law. Recent arrest of a 15 year old boy from his home at midnight without any legal authorisation has pointed fingers to the credibility of law enforcing agencies.

Public was confined due to the barricaded highways, connecting roads, motorways and entry points by shipping containers. Such barricading has caused life of an army officer, whom will be accountable for it? Educational and business activities were also hampered at an exhaustive level.

Moreover the speeches by the chairman of PTI had not only intensified the situation but also were creating a very rigid stance on their part. Such wording and threats to put governmental functioning at halt along with the alleged misbehavior of the protestors with the law and order agencies was somewhat leading to self-sabotaging of the Party.

Islamabad High Court (IHC) while listening to the petitions against PTI not only disapproved the call for lock down by the PTI on 2nd November 2016, but also directed the government not to cordon off roads using containers  for the assurance of smooth running of the system in twin cities.

Judiciary has eyed the matter in a very neutral and proficient manner and has plainly signified that Nov 2 sit in cannot be dealt as a sit in, protest or a rally but an act intending to paralyze the government. Hence, the judicial commission for inquiry against the alleged corruption of Prime Minister will be established.

Along with the breaches done by PTI regarding the welfare of the people at large, selective use of Article 144 by the government could also be seen in the capital, where banned organisations were allowed to demonstrate unrestricted use of Article 19, 19-A in core area of capital. The whole staged drama of lock down was lately seen through the lens of ethnocentrism, where the unchecked statements by chief minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa did turn the issue in provincialism and ethnic conflict.

Statements and threats pertaining the movement towards the ‘Red Zone’, halting the functions of the secretariat, challenging the mandate and writ of the government indubitably created uncertainty among the public. Additionally, the show of power by the government to prevent the PTI officials and workers to reach the destined area has clearly indicated the phobia of government against the upcoming protest.

Strict restrictions on movement of people, denying routes to the ambulances carrying dead bodies, placements of hundreds of concrete blocks has clearly indicated that government was unsuccessful in managing the crisis. Judiciary has taken a very timely decision to intervene and turning the whole aggressive lockdown in ‘youm-e-tashakur’ which not only calmed public down but also initiated a new debate over the reliability/credibility of PTI.

Should we be thankful to the judiciary for intervening and saving the public from the unrestrained acts of the halting the daily life or should we be thankful to PTI to get the lock down done by the government itself: It is a question which might predict the future political scenario of Pakistan.