Tag Archives: British Raj

Congratulations to Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma

Prior to the Government of India Act 1935 British imperialists had ruled Burma as a part of India. Through the 1935 Act Burma was formally separated from “British” India and it failed to develop as a democratic state. The country gained independence from Britain on 4 January 1948 but it suffered a coup d’état on 2 March 1962 and the junta has ruled ever since. Continue reading

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Blasphemy and the rule of law: Asia Bibi’s case

History

A barrister by trade Mr Jinnah shared with the profession its militant passion for espousing very precisely advocated arguments and it is not by chance that six decades after his death we can still hear his principles echo. In his first speech to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan Mr Jinnah provided his people with clues for future action. He described the evils which threatened Pakistan’s interests and suggested remedies which would aid its inhabitants in achieving the secular dream that he had dreamt for the newborn state.

Mr Jinnah

In his first address to the Constituent Assembly Mr Jinnah very famously declared that in Pakistan there could be “no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another”. He also reassured Pakistan’s citizens by his declaration that:

“You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State.”

Clearly Mr Jinnah’s Pakistan was very much about an impartial state which did not treat its minorities poorly and one which did not persecute them.

In his speech Mr Jinnah also reiterated his fears for the future. Pakistan, argued Mr Jinnah, would have to fight diseases such as “bribery, corruption, jobbery, nepotism and black marketing” and in order to win against such evils the post-colonial state would have to grant all its citizens equality and constitutional “human” rights.

Equally, even the later Objectives Resolution (considered to be the touchstone of the “Islamic” influence on Pakistan’s constitution) – which was passed in March 1949 under the aegis of Nawabzada Liaqat Ali Khan – clearly made provisions for the protection of the rights of minorities. Keeping with Mr Jinnah Nawabzada envisaged a nation: Continue reading

Defending Arundhati Roy

By having made the statement that “Kashmir is not an integral part of India”, the acclaimed Indian novelist and human rights activist Arundhati Roy has angered the Indian government yet again. Earlier on by championing the Naxalite insurgency and by casting doubt on Pakistan’s alleged involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks she had made herself unpopular with Indian nationalists and Hindu extremists alike.

But this time the outspoken and brilliant lady might really be in some real trouble as the long arms of the law (i.e. qanoon kay lambay haath) will aim to charge her with sedition as set out in section 124A of India’s Penal Code 1860. If found guilty Roy could be sentenced to a life’s term in prison.

Just to be really Eurocentric, and also because of the fact the Convention is a “living instrument” to be followed universally, Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 1950 sets out a person’s right to free speech as:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.”

Moreover, the constitution of the world’s largest democracy is far from silent on the rights which Roy enjoys and it is worthwhile setting them out fully so that we can defend her in cyberspace. In the Constitution of India 1950 “fundamental rights” are enumerated in Articles 12-35. More specifically Article 19 establishes that: Continue reading

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