People of Pakistan have now a constitution! | #cybersecurity | #cyberattack

Amid growing suffering from increasing high inflation and economic crisis, people of Pakistan have bagged a double win to celebrate this weekend, thanks to their judges who, this time, did not follow suit of their predecessors and stood by the people’s democratic rights, as guaranteed by their constitution.

The two latest landmark verdicts delivered by judges will be reshaping the politics of Pakistan in the coming days.

The Supreme Court on Thursday night declared unconstitutional the dismissal of no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan and subsequent dissolution of the parliament by the president, on advice of the premier. The apex court restored the parliament dissolved a few days ago and ordered that a no-confidence motion be held in line with the constitutional provision.

Except Imran Khan and his staunch followers, people of Pakistan, regardless of their political affiliation, lauded and welcomed the top court’s verdict and went to bed Thursday night with great relief. The country had been saved from a constitutional crisis for now.

They got another shiny day on Friday as the Islamabad High Court followed suit of the Supreme Court by scrapping a draconian cyber law made by the Imran Khan government last February to gag freedom of speech and expression. The High Court declared unconstitutional the ordinance promulgated by the president on advice of Imran Khan’s cabinet introducing stringent provisions to make online “defamation” of authorities, including the military and judiciary, a criminal offense with harsh penalties, according to Pakistan media reports.

This is, of course, a major victory for the media and rights activists at a time of decline of democracy globally.

Like other governments around in the world and in neighbouring countries, the Imran Khan government had claimed the law had been made to curb “fake news.” But the move, according to journalists and rights activists, was aimed at silencing dissent on social media and controlling the media.

Those who initiated the legal battle against the provisions of the cyber law – Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act – have set an example of fighting for people’s freedom of speech and expression.

Journalist associations, including the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA), the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE), the Association of Electronic Media Editors and News Directors (AEMEND) and some senior journalists of the country, had filed the petition, according to The News International.

In the four-page order, the Islamabad High Court stated that free speech protected under the constitution “is essential for the development, progress, and prosperity of a society, adding that suppression thereof is unconstitutional and contrary to democratic values.”

“The criminalisation of defamation, protection of individual reputations through arrest and imprisonment and the resultant chilling effect violates the letter of the Constitution and the invalidity thereof is beyond a reasonable doubt,” said the order authored by the Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah.

The court also directed the Interior Ministry to probe the conduct of officials of the Cyber Crime Wing of the Federal Investigation Agency, which had led to widespread abuse of powers and the consequent grave violations of fundamental rights of the citizens, according to reports by Pakistani media.

Thanks to the Islamabad High Court, Pakistani people’s democratic rights received a boost, as newspapers are just a media for the people to exercise their right to freedom of speech and expression.

The High Court verdict is also another blow to the Imran Khan government. Freedom of the press has long been a problem in Pakistan. The situation has deteriorated markedly under Imran Khan government, which has dismissed allegations of attacks on the Pakistani press as a “joke”. Before Imran Khan won the elections and formed the government, Pakistan had occupied the 139th position in the global index of press freedom in 2017. In the past three years, the country has gone down by six points.

Thursday night however ushered in a new era for Pakistan as the Supreme Court effectively upheld the constitution and saved the country from a crisis, reversing its historic track record. 

Pakistan Supreme Court has a dark and long chapter of failure to defend and protect the constitution and people’s rights. It endorsed the unlawful dissolution of the Constituent Assembly in 1954, denying people of an independent country from having a constitution.

Again, the top judiciary gave legitimacy to the first martial law in Pakistan in 1958, proclaimed by Gen Ayub Khan, abrogating the constitution enacted two years before.

In 1977, the apex court declared a military coup by Gen Ziaul Haq legitimate on the basis of state necessity and welfare of the people. Two decades later, the Supreme Court again stood by military coup in 1999 by Gen Pervez Musharraf and indemnified the extra-constitutional takeover under the doctrine of necessity.

And during every occasion, the Supreme Court basically endorsed the dissolution of a legitimately elected parliament – a reflection of people’s will – and sided with undemocratic forces.

This time around, however, the Supreme Court rejected the ‘doctrine of necessary’ used to legitimise Imran Khan government’s extraconstitutional measures to dissolve the parliament.

The situation could have been different had the military staged a coup. Despite its notorious distinction of having a background of conquering their own country, the role of the Pakistan army was different this time. It did not support the conspiracy theory being paraded by Imran Khan about a foreign government’s plan to oust his government through a no-confidence motion in parliament. Imran Khan publicly denounced and accused US officials of hatching the conspiracy against his government. But the army chief categorically made it clear that it wanted to expand relations with USA, sending a strong signal that the armed forces did not buy into the conspiracy theory.

History tells us a curious story about Pakistan judges and generals, which is so full of drama that it could be the plot of drama serial.

But this time the Pakistan judiciary, through the two latest verdicts, has spoken loudly that the people of Pakistan have a constitution which must be defended, protected and upheld. The verdicts also prove that people’s constitutional rights should also not remained only on paper.

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