Holy Bilawals, Dispensable Bismas & A Subverted Constitution

Holy Bilawals, Dispensable Bismas & A Subverted Constitution

“The State shall protect the marriage, the family, the mother and the child”..

says Article 35 of the Constitution of Pakistan in its Chapter titled “Principles of Policy”.

Provision of basic health facilities to a child comes within the ambit of the State’s responsibility. Obstructing access to medical attention for a critically sick 10 months old girl is not an ordinary crime on the State’s part, it is a 10 month old citizen’s cold blooded murder. Retribution? None.

While the State busies its self in locking horns over the interpretation of Article 147 that deals with a Provincial government’s power to entrust certain functions to the Federal government, it quite conveniently, as per usual, ignores Articles 8 to 40 that deal with the fundamental rights of its citizens and principles of policy.

Article 15:

“Every citizen shall have the right to remain in, and, subject to any reasonable restriction imposed by law in the public interest, enter and move freely throughout Pakistan…”

There was no law restraining Bisma’s father from entering Civil Hospital Karachi for his daughter’s treatment. I cannot think of any possible law restricting such entry to be in “public interest” by any stretch of imagination. Yet, entry was denied. A citizen of Pakistan stood at the gates of a hospital with his dying child in his arms, and the State refused to let him in.

Government of Sindh chose to defend this barbaric ignorance and disregard for civil rights with Mr. Bilawal Zardari’s security concerns. Why is Bilawal indispensable and Bisma was not?

Article 25(1):

“All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law”

Article 2A:

“…….Wherein the principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice as enunciated by Islam shall be fully observed…

……Wherein shall be guaranteed fundamental rights including equality of status, of opportunity and before law, social, economic and political justice…….”

What makes Bilawal Zardari’s life, or the life of any other “VIP” with an important office or a “royal” name,  important enough to justify ridiculously unreasonable security protocols that include disallowing a 10 months old sick girl from being in a kilometer’s radius of their highness-es?

Why was a citizen made to beg for his daughter’s life, nay, for the opportunity to have his daughter treated like any patient? Why was a VIP allowed to enter and exit the hospital in his multi-million rupee cavalcade while another citizen was made to abandon his bike and then turned away from the gates of that very hospital?

Article 14:

“The dignity of man and, subject to law, the privacy of home, shall be inviolable”

The dignity of Bisma’s father was violated along with his daughter’s right to life and equality. In practice, the dignity of us ordinary citizens seems very violable and quite often very conveniently violated.

Circumstances of Bisma’s death and her family’s tragedy are not unprecedented. This is not the first time a citizen died because of VIP protocols and security. Sons have cried helpless while ambulances carrying their sick parents stood still in wait for a VIP to pass. Mothers have given birth in rickshaws in traffic jams so that  a VIP gets a non-stop route to his destination.

The moment we elect our Presidents, Prime Ministers, Chief Ministers, Ministers and the moment a public servant reaches a certain position in his service, they, their families and even their extended families exit the realm of an ordinary citizen and enter a domain unspoken of in the Constitution. While we, the ordinary citizens have dispensable lives and properties, they are indispensable and even seconds of their time are more sacred than our lives.

Has the frequency of such events desensitized us? Are we as infuriated and despised as we ought to be? Friends I have talked to, have asked me: “Even if we were, what could have we done?”

Well, we could ask the State to end this neglect and blatant disregard for our lives, and if that is not possible, to at least amend the Constitution so as to delete the entire chapter dealing with our fundamental rights. If we have none in practice, we don’t need any on paper.

As long as Chapter 1, Part II of the Constitution is in place, every such act and all other acts that are in complete disregard of our fundamental rights, are in my opinion a subversion of the Constitution and, in light of Article 6 qualify as High Treason. Retribution? None, yet.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of any organization with which he might be associated.

Zafar Zulqarnain Sahi

Author: Zafar Zulqarnain Sahi

The writer is a lawyer by profession. He is a Gold Medalist in LLB from Punjab University and has a LLM degree from University of Warwick, UK. He is also a former Member Provincial Assembly of Punjab (2008-2013).

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