EVEN by the standards of Faisal Vawda, his latest brush with controversy is beyond the pale. On Tuesday evening, while appearing as a guest on a couple of TV talk shows, the federal minister for water resources blithely declared, not once but twice, that, “If we had it in our power to hang 5,000 people, the future of 220m people would be transformed”.
Not content with this vile remark, he went on to disparage the Constitution, saying that if one waited to do so within its ambit, such a purge would take 20 years. The obvious implication is that in Mr Vawda’s eyes, the Constitution — which enshrines fundamental rights, including the right to security of person and due process — is a hindrance to ‘real’ progress.
When a legislator who has taken an oath to “preserve, protect and defend” the Constitution displays naked contempt for the basic law of the country, it is abhorrent in the extreme. By his words, Mr Vawda has undermined the very basis on which a democracy functions. Clearly, the minister has little appreciation of the enormous responsibility — not to mention honour — that being a member of the house of representatives entails.
As to his repugnant prescription of mass murder, one should draw his attention — and that of others perhaps yearning for such unbridled exercise of power — to past episodes of savage state-sponsored violence on the global stage that have rightly been consigned by posterity to history’s hall of shame. This is not to say that Mr Vawda is suggesting a cull on the scale of the Great Purge in Stalin’s Russia or the Cultural Revolution in China.
However, his remarks are indicative of a fascist mindset willing to go to any length to achieve its objectives, and one hopes it is limited to this one individual. The government must immediately censure its MNA for his appalling remarks, and disabuse him of the notion that the Constitution is a piece of paper to be trampled upon at will.
Published in Dawn, June 13th, 2019