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TREASON, Civilians and Military

By Imtiaz Gul

Weekly Pulse, Nov 25, 2011

The memogate has raised questions that essentially revolve the constitution’s Article 6 which says that that, any person who “attempts to abrogate or subvert or suspend or hold in abeyance... the Constitution by any unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason.” 

Does the document – if ambassador Hussein Haqqani is involved in it in some way – at all amount to treason committed by a Pakistan government official and liable for trial under the said article. If the contents can be traced to Haqqani, he can also be tried under Articles 2A, 5, 9, 10A, 42, 243, 245 of the Constitution, as pointed by noted legal experts. 

One of the proposals contained in the controversial memo suggests that the President of Pakistan would appoint White House nominated “independent investigators” to conduct an “independent inquiry into the allegations that Pakistan harbored and offered assistance to Osama-bin-Laden and other senior Qaeda operatives”. This falls under the purview of Article 42 because it is a violation of the President’s oath who swears to, “bear true faith and allegiance to Pakistan and under takes to “discharge duties and perform functions, honestly and faithfully in accordance with the Constitution and the law, and always in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity, solidarity, well-being and prosperity of Pakistan. The president also undertakes not to “ allow personal interests to influence official conduct or official decisions”, and “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution”. 

The Article 5 of the Constitution requires every citizen to be loyal to the state of Pakistan is the basic duty of every citizen of Pakistan. But if the content of the memo were true, then the authors are proposing that the Pakistani government would allow the US access into the Pakistani territory and its institution to ascertain if and any of the state institutions were complicit in protecting Osama bin Laden. Or to allow surgical strikes and raids to take out wanted Al Qaeda operatives. Inviting US boots to hunt and sort out l terrorists on Pakistani soil amounts to a contravention of Article 2A that mandates that, “the integrity of the territories of the Federation, its independence and all its rights including sovereign rights on land, sea or air shall be safeguarded.” 

Most of the issues contained in the controversial memo relate to the demands that the US and its allies have been placing on Pakistan as part of their “do more” campaign. There is nothing wrong with demanding of Pakistan and its institutions to come clean on allegations regarding links with or support for terrorist or militant outfits. But if one were to consider the US or British demands, they clearly represent the interests of these states. And that is why the question that stokes curiosity in the current circumstances is whether those with Green Card or American or Canadian or British nationality can go against the oath they took when acquiring Green Card or the Passport of that particular country . Their primary responsibility and loyalty ,logically, should be to protect the interests of their adopted states rather than the one where they are doing the business of politics for as long as possible. 

Let us look at the Oath of Allegiance that every immigrant to the US has to take when he becomes a citizen.

"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God." 

Viewed against this oath, it becomes understandable that dual-nationality holders clearly face a dilemma i.e. to defend the interest of their adopted country or the one that is still allegedly contravening those interests?

One of the questions arising out of the current crisis also relates to those Pakistani coup-makers who abrogated constitutions and violated their oath only to remove elected governments.

Under General Pervez Musharraf, for instance, for a couple of years, American soldiers used to transit through Islamabad and Karachi International Airports without immigration procedures. This is not heresy but is based on an account given by senior government officials who were then dealing with the American delegations. The Marines on board C-130s would disembark the plane, embark the vans waiting at the tarmac and speed off to their hotels in Islamabad, without going through the immigration desk.

Wasn’t it a glaring contravention of the Pakistani constitution and its laws that Gen.Musharraf allowed using his absolute power? The GHQ-League was then equally complicit in Musharraf’s carte-blanche to the American army. But has somebody spoken about trying main characters involved in this scam? If the civilians are called into question for their loyalty and oath to the constitution of Pakistan, why not high-placed military officials, including the coup-makers and their abetters? The principle of loyalty to Pakistan and invocation of Article 6 must be applied across the board and not selectively. Whoever contravenes the constitution or breaches his or her oath must face law.

Imtiaz Gul is the Executive Director of the independent Centre for Research and Security

Email: imtiaz@crss.pk