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Zia’s legacy

April 14, 2013

ALTHOUGH military dictator Ziaul Haq died a quarter century back, he is virtually still ruling the country, thanks to the amendments he made to the constitution. The changes he made to the constitution were to please his partners — religious and right-wing political parties — to perpetuate his illegal stay in power. Now these amendments have become a bone in the nation’s throat and it cannot swallow it or throw up. Take for example the case of Hudood laws. It took years for successive governments to get away with some of the gross injustices with rape victims. According to Hudood laws, any woman complaining of rape is liable to be sentenced until she produces human witnesses to prove her claim.

Take the case of blasphemy laws which have taken its toll in the form of countless murders, killings, jail terms, burning people alive, looting and destruction of properties — this is the fate of not only religious minorities but Muslims as well.

Now some minds thought to enforce another legacy of Zia — Articles 62 and63 — to make a pre-selection of potential candidates for the May elections. Returning Officers (who happened to be judges and law officers from local courts) have been empowered by the superior judiciary to do this task. The type of questions they asked while interviewing the prospective candidates have made a mockery of democracy in Pakistan.

It shows how low these law officers can go to implement Articles 62 and 63 to rig the elections in the disguise of pre-selection of candidates.

One would have thought that we are moving towards a historic moment by marking a transition between two elected governments. But as usual, we go two steps backwards for every step forward. The credibility and authenticity of the entire electoral system has been ruined by a few.

MASOOD KHAN Jubail, Saudi Arabia