Friday, November 30, 2007

Democracy Part V: Pakistan Administered

In Democracy Part IV, I Suggested a significant managerial aspect to constitutionalism and the rule of law as applied. As praxis, it represents a transfer of power from political principals (elected officials or divinely legitimated sovereigns) to managers. But this cannot surprise in an age generally characterized by its managerialism in all aspects of life. Pakistan is to be suspended from its membership in the Commonwealth until it conforms to expectations of transnational constitutional rule of law conduct. Pakistan Suspended From Commonwealth,, November 22, 2007.

The group said Musharraf had failed to meet the 53-member organization's Commonwealth deadlines to resign as army chief, allow a free press, hold elections, and restore the power of his country's judiciary. "It was not an easy thing to do," Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Helena Guergis said of the suspension. "But in the end, we all believe we've all made the right decision — in support of democracy, in support of the people of Pakistan." Guergis said Canada's position has been very clear that all members of the Commonwealth have an obligation to defend democracy. "We adhere to and we support the principles of democracy and right now we have to uphold that," she said. "We have to stand behind that and we have to support that and Pakistan has not done that."

Id. Pakistan reacted as one might expect: "The government in Islamabad shrugged off the threat, saying it would manage the transition to democracy in its own way and on its own timetable. It signalled its defiance by ordering the detention of the People's party leader, Benazir Bhutto, for seven days - pre-empting her plans to lead a "long march" from Lahore to Islamabad in protest against emergency rule." Julian Borger and Declan Walsh, Commonwealth Ultimatum to Pakistan, The Guardian, November 13, 2007. Indeed, one of the most potent messages of the Commonwealth action was both its symbolic value--the community of states enforcing norms against a member state, irrespective of that state's "power" to act as it might, and the importance of African states in that disciplining. "Democratic values are a cornerstone of Commonwealth membership. African states, which have been warned against staging military coups, feel strongly that they were duped by Britain into allowing Pakistan back into the Commonwealth in 2004 with a promise from General Musharraf that he would doff his uniform." Anne Penketh, Commonwealth Crisis Meeting Called Over Ban, The Independent, November 7, 2007.

So managerialism is now come to constitutional law--as has the power of the community of nations over individual states. And with managerialism has come a certain degree of juridificaiton. Lawyers and judges control democracy now. Justice Coke would have been pleased with the sentiment--though bewildered with the result. See Larry Catá Backer, Reifying Law: Government, Law and the Rule of Law in Governance Systems, 26 Penn State International Law Review -- (2008).

And it had effect!
But, there is loss to its international standing. The Commonwealth decision comes as a rap on the knuckles: well short of a slap in the face, but a public embarrassment nevertheless. And it can be argued that democratically elected leaders representing a couple of billion people have now spoken against Musharraf formally. Suspension clearly hurts Pakistan enough for its leaders to have written to CMAG (comprising Malta, Lesotho, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Britain, Canada, Tanzania, Papua New Guinea and St Lucia) to argue against such a move. The argument convinced enough members for CMAG hold off from harsher action until the elections, promised for Jan. 8. The suspension of Pakistan from the councils means exclusion of its representatives from participation in all inter-governmental Commonwealth meetings and in other inter-governmental Commonwealth activities, including CHOGM (the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, currently underway in the Ugandan capital, Kampala).
Sanjay Suri, Commonwealth-Pakistan: Suspended But not Banished, IPS News, November 23, 2007. It did not tale long for General Musharraf to blink, and for the judges and lawyers--with their own agendas, not necessarily democratic, but certainty anti-Musharraf--to appear to triumph. Though maybe not democracy--just its simulacrum. But then, that is all that matters. Simulation is its own reality, and the basis of legitimacy within the family of nations.
"The Commonwealth restored Pakistan's membership yesterday in recognition of the democratic steps taken there since the country rescinded emergency rule late last year. The 53-member organization said it welcomed Pakistani ruler General Pervez Musharraf's decision to step down as chief of army staff and the easing of restrictions on the country's media. The organization said that, while concerns remained over the independence of the country's judiciary and the need for electoral reform, Pakistan "had taken positive steps to fulfill its obligations" as far as the body's democratic principles were concerned."

Raphael G. Satter, Pakistan Rejoins Commonwealth, The Independent, May 13, 2008.

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