Under the garb of legislation

CSS Corner


The article titled “Under the garb of legislation” discusses the recent surge of legislative activities by the PDM coalition government in Pakistan and its implications for the political landscape. The writer highlights the paradoxical behavior of political parties and lawmakers who claim to champion human rights but introduce bills that contradict their assertions, ultimately aligning themselves with the center of power.

The writer cites an example of the Prevention of Violent Extremism Bill, 2023, which was rejected by the Upper House due to the intervention of a few senators. The law minister attributed the bill to the PTI government but left unanswered the question of who presented the bill on behalf of the treasury benches. The amendment of the Official Secrets Act, 2023, also raises concerns about the use of legislation for political purposes.

The author discusses the transformation of the PML-N, which initially demanded a level playing field before elections but has since supported crackdowns on political opponents and aligned itself with the power holders. Security-related legislation in Pakistan has a history of misuse to target politicians, yet politicians often support such laws for pragmatic reasons. Examples include the creation of military courts under the 21st Amendment and amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Act.

The article sheds light on the introduction of security-related legislation without prior debate or input from the law ministry, often outsourced to private law firms and endorsed by security institutions. The government’s response to law-enforcement agencies’ demands for more extensive legal powers includes multiple amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Act and the establishment of military courts. The high acquittal rate in terrorism-related cases remains a concern.

The author emphasizes the irony of political parties supporting legislation that could be used against them in the future. The article also points out the delays in trials of hardcore sectarian terrorists and the binary perspective of Pakistan’s power holders, who categorize militants as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ based on context.

The writer highlights the support for amendments by far-right religious parties that enhance punishments for those who disrespect the ahle bait or sahaba-i-karaam. The lack of a comprehensive legal definition of terrorism despite decades of fighting terrorism is noted, raising questions about the country’s approach to legislation in this area.

In conclusion, the article delves into the complex dynamics of legislative actions and their underlying motivations, highlighting the contradictory behavior of political actors in Pakistan’s ever-evolving political landscape.

Facts and Figures from the article:

  • Key focus of the article: Analysis of recent legislative activities in Pakistan by the PDM coalition government.
  • Legislation mentioned: Prevention of Violent Extremism Bill, 2023; Official Secrets Act, 2023; amendments to the Pakistan Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure.
  • Political party facing a test case in upcoming elections: PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz).
  • Notable security-related legislation: 21st Amendment, Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), Fair Trial Act, Protection of Pakistan Act.
  • Historical context: Misuse of security-related laws to target politicians and implications for human rights.
  • Role of security institutions in endorsing legislation.
  • Impact of legislation on peace, harmony, and political opponents.

MCQs Based on the article

1. What is the primary focus of the article “Under the garb of legislation”?

   a) Analysis of economic reforms

   b) Examination of foreign policy decisions

   c) Review of recent legislative activities in Pakistan

   d) Discussion of social issues

   [Answer: c]


2. What legislation was rejected by the Upper House due to the intervention of some senators?

   a) 21st Amendment

   b) Fair Trial Act

   c) Prevention of Violent Extremism Bill, 2023

   d) Protection of Pakistan Act

   [Answer: c]


3. What contradiction in behavior does the writer highlight among political parties and lawmakers?

   a) Supporting legislation that contradicts human rights assertions

   b) Aligning with the center of power and opposing human rights

   c) Supporting religious groups against the government

   d) Advocating for foreign investment while opposing local industries

   [Answer: a]


4. Which political party initially demanded a level playing field before elections but later supported crackdowns on political opponents?

   a) PTI

   b) PPP

   c) PML-N

   d) MQM

   [Answer: c]


5. What aspect of the security-related legislation raises concerns about its potential misuse?

   a) Emphasis on human rights protection

   b) Inclusion of comprehensive legal definitions

   c) Outsourcing to private law firms

   d) Its alignment with religious values

   [Answer: c]


6. How did a few senators respond to the extremism bill in the Upper House?

   a) They supported the bill wholeheartedly.

   b) They blocked the bill due to its political intent.

   c) They suggested amendments to the bill.

   d) They ignored the bill’s implications.

   [Answer: b]


7. What is the writer’s opinion about politicians supporting security-related legislation?

   a) They act in accordance with their conscience.

   b) They always resist and block such legislation.

   c) They compromise for political benefits or when opponents are targeted.

   d) They consistently prioritize human rights over political interests.

   [Answer: c]


8. What important legal term is highlighted in the article?

   a) Economic restructuring

   b) Political engineering

   c) Terrorism

   d) Humanitarian aid

   [Answer: c]


9. What is the primary concern raised by the support for amendments related to religious issues?

   a) Lack of respect for religious values

   b) Potential misuse of legislation against political opponents

   c) Encouragement of interfaith dialogue

   d) Enhanced protection for religious minorities

   [Answer: b]


10. What Supreme Court advice has not been heeded despite years of fighting terrorism?

    a) Development of comprehensive legal definitions of terrorism

    b) Establishment of military courts

    c) Enhancing law-enforcement agencies’ powers

    d) Promoting religious tolerance

    [Answer: a]


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