Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Loop holes in the American Justice System

By Saeed Qureshi

The constitution of the United States of America deserves the highest tribute as a beacon of light for all the democracies in the world. It would continue to serve as an invaluable embodiment of all such hallmarks that constitute civil societies. However, the American justice system is yet to reach a stage of being immaculate.

An observation that I read in the New York Times so succinctly illustrates the way the American Justice is aborted. It says, “The judge’s whim is all that mattered in that courtroom. The law was basically irrelevant." (MARSHA LEVICK, the legal director of the Juvenile Law Center, on two Pennsylvania judges who sent thousands of juveniles to detention centers for $2.6 million in kickbacks).

If any branch of the civil society is enormously independent and truly powerful, it is the judiciary in America. Now I would not endorse the kickbacks blemish but certainly there are dark shades here and there that come in the way of the dispensation of an absolutely unalloyed and sparkling justice.

There is a laudable culture and tradition of strict accountability running into the body politic of the United States. But it is seldom and once in a blue moon that a member of judiciary is held accountable. Judges in the courts are like sovereigns whose every movement of hands and eyebrows, wrinkle of the face, every word uttered and rebukes hurled have to be swallowed by those attending the courts.

Up to this threshold, all the judges and dispensers of justice enjoy massive and rather arbitrary powers all over the world. But in the American courts, it is a different story. If judges’ powers are inhibited by someone it is the jury that has to come up with a unanimous YES or NO verdict. Based upon jury’s yes or no consensus vote, the judge awards the sentence. But if it is exclusively up to the judge to give a verdict, he is prone to be swayed by many considerations.

Now the DNA, a unique and amazing invention of the modern age has proven that many convicts of heinous crime such as rape and murder, who were put to death, were actually innocents. Some were acquitted due to the timely results of the DNA that showed no link of the convicts with the crimes or the victims. As such, this goes to establish that there have been some very serious flaws in the U. S. justice system.

In courts, what matters is how the lawyers can manipulate the case. The fact is that the prosecution is always overbearing and maintains an upper edge over the defense. Those who were electrocuted or given lethal injection got their sentence because the prosecution was dominant in the court as ever. However in the case of Zimmerman vs Trayvon, it is the defense that prevailed.

 As a casual visitor to the courts for interpretation on behalf of the prosecution or the defense, I have seen kind of bitter verbal clashes between the prosecuting and defending lawyers. In one of the cases at the end of the day a verdict came out that stunned the dumbfounded seekers of justice. 

The judge swept aside the tons of evidence produced by the defense and issued an order that defied all the logic and rationale of the discussion. No questions asked. Now there are many considerations that weigh heavily in certain cases irrespective of the merits of the cases or the guts of the defense to browbeat the argument of the prosecution.

As I have observed, invariably, it is the prosecution that mostly triumphs. In predominant number of cases a plea bargain is the ultimate outcome. It means, “don’t care or press for the merit of the case. Accept the lesser punishment in order to get rid of the agony, more excruciating hassle and waste of time and money”. There is an element of fear lurking behind the verdicts that may not be in complete fulfillment of the due norms of justice.

Now race or ethnic background might be a very potent factor influencing the verdict of a case. The alien minority communities involved in violation of immigration rules, overstaying, in small felonies as a brawl between the wife and husband or a theft that can be summarily disposed off, remain trapped in an adjudication system between a prosecution and the defense attorneys for years together.  

Ironically such cases usually culminate in a plea bargain or a mild conviction for the accused. In case of choosing the option of fine to avoid the sentence, another torturous process of rehabilitation starts, leaving a person in a mentally or physically mauled state.

Several years ago, I witnessed a case adjudicated between a white drunken driver and a turbaned Sikh from India. The case dragged on for almost three years. It offers a classic example of how the judges can impose their fiat ultimately. The defense attorney took the whole day to produce eye witnesses to prove that the Indian family was beaten by the violent driver. 

In the evening, to the utter bewilderment, the verdict was given in favor of the driver who simply walked out of the court. The judge in one single utterance said that he did not believe the evidence or the arguments of the defense attorney.

Now the jury system is a legacy of the past when community involvement was deemed necessary to arrive at a decision. The jury consists of the people invited from various walks of life who would not be sufficiently knowledgeable about the legal intricacies or even the merit of the case. They are students, businessmen, employees or people from other walks of life. They are briefed for a limited time both by the prosecution and defense lawyers to formulate a verdict upon which depends the future of the accused person. 

Besides it should also fulfill the imperatives of justice. Prior to the jury verdict that comes out in matter of hours; the case remains before the court sometimes for many years. The arguments of the attorneys, the evidence, the time spent, and the merits of the cases evaporate like a mist before the jury’s unanimous Yes or No vote; deemed as the ultimate and irrevocable verdict.

The jury system is indeed like a spanner in the smooth sailing of the justice system because it is superimposed and nullifies all the work done by the attorneys on both sides of the legal contest. Even if the jury is divided a consensus is necessary to declare someone guilty or not guilty. This is all a matter of persuasion, good or bad luck of the accused as to what kind of opinion he gets from the jury. 

If it is predominately black or white jury they might be swayed by the racial or ethnic considerations thus tainting the legal process supposed to be absolutely fair and upon which depends the life and honor of a human being or a member of the society.

The Sixth Amendment stipulates that, “ In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of the counsel for his defense.”

Now so many individuals accused of fighting against NATO troops in Afghanistan have been languishing in Guantanamo concentration camp. If the incumbent administration tries to initiate their trial after decade of incarceration, the respective states don’t allow that legal process to take place on their soil. Interestingly those captured at the time of defeat of Taliban were not all the members of despicable al-Qaida. They were basically Taliban or their civilian cohorts.

But the legal process stands so much subverted and tainted that these hapless guys are not being given the chance as per American constitution to be proven guilty or innocent. The justice has fallen prey to an exuberant emotionalism that defies fair play and hampers due course of justice. Right or wrong, these people deserve benefit of doubt, and some of them might be friends of America.

But one exceptionally distinctive feature of this system is the right to appeal to the upper courts that give an option and a way-out for the aggrieved persons to keep exploring and seeking the justice till the final appeal is rejected or accepted. But on the whole, it is very arduous, time consuming and costly course that the economic immigrants can seldom afford. 

The overriding spirit and general attitude of the adjudicating authorities is punitive and not forgiving even in minor cases where a simple warning would be enough.After 9/11 the justice system was given a new meaning and interpretation. 

The Patriot Act empowered the administration to bend the law in case of the persons who were labeled as enemy combatants. It is primarily for this reason that the Guantanamo inmates some of whom might have been caught by default or were even friends of America could not be prosecuted all these years. 

Their trial could not be carried out in New York and in other states because of the deep hatred for these individuals whose crime is yet to be determined. Such are the pressures from the society that can even set aside the law to take its legitimate course for determining the culpability of an accused.

The professional ethics among the attorneys, lawyers and interpreters of law, occasionally, seems to fall short of the required norms. As one may look from a distance, there would be an effort by the defense lawyers to prolong the cases as long as they can because thus they keep the inflow of the fees and other charges intact.

If the private doctors are some time accused of charging high fees and keeping the patients on the tenterhooks, the lawyers too try to keep the cauldron of the cases boiling which normally ends at the threshold of plea bargain. These are the aberrations of the justice system that do not reflect any dereliction on the part of the law makers but are at play during its practical follow-up.

Now as a lay man let me offer my opinion how to expunge the lacunas. First of all I would recommend doing away with the jury system. I plead this because with raw knowledge in legal matters, with diverse racial and ethnic proclivities and with very little time to understand the intricacies of the case, the jury cannot come up with the right and rational decision. 

This custom can be replaced with a panel of judges who as legal experts would be in a strong position to hand out a wholesome decision. If there is more than one judge, the whims and changing moods of one single judge can be effectively checked.

It should also be worthwhile if in serious criminal case particularly murder, theft and rape, the DNA evidence should be made obligatory. The DNA finding can lay out the incontrovertible way to determine one’s involvement or otherwise in the crime. Somehow the attitude of soft corner for some ethnic groups and hard stances against the others must be addressed and a viable way-out should be evolved to keep the judges on the right side of law, regardless of their personal impulses.

The judges come to the bar through elections and by votes of the community. This system speaks for the grassroots democratic culture and is praiseworthy. But the qualifications of the judges and legal arbiters some time are not up to the mark to entitle them to hold these immensely crucial public offices and to perform in a highly professional manner. 

In my view, the appointment of the judges through elections should be replaced by a committee of experts who should thoroughly scrutinize the professional and ethical credentials of the candidates and recommend the most qualified or eligible for the post.

This is how a fully competent person can be chosen who would not lack in judicial know-how and legal knowledge. This would enormously helpful in the adoption of neutral stance and hand out a decision that would be just and in conformity with imperative of the unalloyed justice system. The elected judges occasionally could tilt in favor of certain community members who were instrumental in his or her election victory.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Paradoxes of Sex in American Society

By Saeed Qureshi
If someone is under the erroneous impression that American society is sexually permissive, then I may straight away tell you it is not. There are tricky snares laid around that make the outdoor sex a costly and scary undertaking. The sex culture here is a blend of queer paradoxes and intrigues that can turn sour for the fun seekers. More often than not, it would be difficult to distinguish between a street whore and an undercover police operative.

An individual desperately in search of a female could land himself in big trouble enough to ruin his future as a blemished person for all time to come. Those who are categorized as sex offenders carry this mill-stone for the rest of their lives. Once caught, they are treated as pariah and outcast in the society. The law is unforgiving and they would remain in jail for many years. 

They cannot live in common neighborhoods. Their dwellings should be far from school zones and they should report to the area police from time to time. In gutter magazines and tabloid papers their pictures are published. These papers are placed at counters of big stores and can be viewed by customers.

The so called sting operations carried by the police have several outlets. One would receive a sudden call from a female with an exceptionally tantalizing and sweet offer to meet her in a lonely or secluded place. She would mention of her being a teenage or young girl recklessly aspiring to make friendship or have sex. The young specifically from the immigrants, are usually enticed and allured thinking that it was a free society so there was nothing wrong with it. He unwittingly falls into a laid out trap.

When he reaches at the appointed location and had just started the conversation with the female (a cover up police officer), he is pounced upon by other operatives and thus starts a nightmarish phase of his life. The immigrant victims of such operations are treated very harshly and even deported. I would wonder why those who initiate sting operations to involve the unassuming through a tricky are not taken to task.

In other situations, the male singles and fun seekers alike would drive at such places mostly roadsides, where call girls make their appearance. But the moment one gets into a conversation all of sudden a police car would barge in and arrest the males letting off the girls. The girls are let off because they would be accomplices in that drama of catching the sex offenders.

In United States if a woman maliciously or vindictively accuses someone of sexual advances, it would be taken as a gospel truth. The first thing that the police would resort to is to handcuff and shove the man in jail. It would take a great deal of prolonged litigation that he could prove his innocence. The false accuser is seldom booked for the suffering caused to a citizen based upon concocted or blown up charges.

 Polygamy is forbidden in America under the civil and religious laws. The Mormons whose one sect believes in sexual promiscuity and polygamy cannot follow their religious edits as it is forbidden to marry more than one woman at one time. The Muslims also permitted by Islam to have more than one wife cannot do so. And that is good by the way.

 However, what nullifies all this farce or facade of keeping the society immune from sexual predators is to freely and uninhibitedly allow the teen age population to date( love meeting), indulge in sex and have children. Primarily it should be the underage generation to be strictly prohibited from sexual pursuits before the attainment of adulthood. In American every years a staggering amount over 20 billion dollars is expended on teen age mothers, delivery of the babies and follow up care and nursing.

The teen age motherhood is prevalent in most of western countries and United States because of the sexual permissiveness for the youth. According to a 2001 UNICEF survey in 10 out of 12 developed nations more than two third of the young people have had sexual intercourse while still in their teens. In Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States, the proportion is as high as 75 per cent.

In America, due to co-education and almost no check on the young generation and because of the biased legal protection, the teen age girls and boys can have sex at an early age. The teen mothers drop out of the high school during the pregnancy or after the delivery. So do the male partners who take up odd jobs to run the household and to bring up the child. They start the family and household at a much younger age. In hostels where the female and male students live together, the sexual intercourse is frequent.

The children are treated like holy cows to such an extent that an adult even a female is not allowed to touch a teen age boy or girl. Reportedly, many a female teacher lost their jobs for touching a student. This is the height of the sensitivity of discrimination in favor of boys and girls of even minor age. On the contrary there is evidence of incest in American society which could be caused because of the lack of moral awareness on this issue as well as children being the easy targets in the privacy of homes.

In almost every country there are areas for the comfort females to carry their business that is permissible under the law. The redeeming feature of that aspect is that one could release his pent- up sexual urge at such secluded yet highly guarded zones. In those countries the neighborhoods remain immune from sex predators. But here in America the outdoor sex is drastically curbed like in conservative Islamic societies.

Yet in practice, even in Islamic countries where rape, molestation or free sex is deemed as a social and religious crime, one can go to any length to give vent to his sexual needs. There are call girls available round the clock in both Islamic and Unislamic societies for a price. I would not mention places like Bangkok and the whole Far East and the Scandinavian belt where sex is accessible and as cheap and common as one can order a meal or buy a shirt from the market.

The pristine concept of celibacy was strictly adhered to by the Christians of the first four centuries. They generally observed sexual restraint, eschewed polygamy, rejected the extra marital sexual practices such as prostitution and homosexuality divorce, abortion, and exposure to death of unwanted infants. Bu the later generations of the priestly class desecrated this golden edit to their hearts’ fill. Just to mention two cases of nauseating degeneracy of the Roman Catholic papacy in recent times.   

If allowing sex in controlled areas is anti-Christianity or a social vice, then all the priests and clergy class would have been as pious as Jesus Christ was. But history of Christendom testifies that these were the churches and cathedrals where worst kind of sexual debauchery has been going on for ages. 

Even in recent times, many priests have been posthumously charged with molesting hundreds of innocent children in church schools and ministries run under their supervision to impart Christian education. So where do we draw the line as to who is pious and who was not?

Priest Lawrence C Murphy a pedophile predatory priest sexually preyed upon 200 defenseless, innocent, adolescent deaf young boys and girls for 24 years (1950-1974). Another priest (Rev.) Brendan Smyth died in jail 13 years ago while serving 12 years for 74 sexual assaults on children. And there are countess such gory incidents encompassing several centuries of diabolic violation of basic Christian teachings. 

The purpose of alluding to these examples is to bear out that in order to satisfy their hedonistic desires how the humans wantonly trample the Jesus’ reverent ministry based upon piety and rectitude. The Catholic Church has been paying millions of dollars as compensation to the victims of sinful priests.

Paradoxically the rape culture is rife in the armed forces of the United States. There are countless complaints about the rape and forcible sex within the army. The rapes are either not reported by the victims or if reported these are either hushed up or seldom probed and the perpetrators prosecuted. One example of this trend of sexual perversion pertains to Naval Station Great Lakes where sailors receive specialized training. 

A Pentagon survey  reported by New York Times revealed that the number of sexual assaults during 2012 in that Naval station alone rose to 26,000. One can imagine the enormity of the uncontrollable sexual lust or carnal urge as to override the professional ethics and integrity in such a brazen way.

There is also pervasive adultery and sexual encroachments in the offices, shops and work places by the owners or the bosses on their subordinate female staff. Such incidents go mostly unreported and hidden because the females fear losing jobs and prefer to keep such incidents secret from their families. Such are the queer paradoxes that bedevil our society.

I shall omit a detailed opinion on the epidemic of same sex marriages. It would be difficult to rationalize or justify a man marrying a man and woman with woman. Living as friends could bear some logic but entering into matrimonial bonds like female and males in fact defies a rational explanation.  

At best or worst it could be explained a kind of homosexuality in case of two males and a kind of lesbian propensity in case of the females living together as partners. Indeed it cannot be for procreation of the human progeny. The underlying purpose could also be to share the burden of life and to draw the state benefits as married partners.

Now in Europe and elsewhere in the world there are brothels for a permissible sexual activity. Here in our country the brothel or red zone area are unthinkable. The result is the frequent incidence of rape, forced molestation and similar heinous acts by the lecherous individuals. 

Absence of brothels though is very plausible from moral point of view, yet it has its pernicious fallout. The sex seekers then explore the massage parlors; hook-up the stray girls on the roadsides or from the pubs and clubs. More often than not it turns out to be costly, risky and troublesome affair.

By curbing the option for a permissible sex in marked outlets interspersed in Far East and the European countries, the American society in fact forces the sexually deviants to change their partners through divorcing and remarrying. 

It is for these compelling reasons that there is a high rate of divorces in this country (60 %).For the affluent and rich individuals; it might not be hurtful and economically disturbing. But for an ordinary person with meager means and limited resources, it entails a host of mental and financial sufferings. 

Those among the citizenry who cannot afford to enter the rigmarole of divorce and remarrying go into the sordid pursuit of rapes or outdoor sex relations. There have been several instances reported in the press that the rapists killed their victims to wash off the evidence.

In a nutshell this society gives a free hand to the teen age boys and girls to have free sex, the girls to become pregnant and for the couple to leave the education incomplete. On the other hand, the adults under the burden of stringent conditions resort to criminal options for sex that land them either in jail, burden them with enormous financial difficulties and segregation from the society as offenders. Many among those who divorce and remarry suffer from economic hardships besides psychological and mental disorders.

For children born out of the previous marriages, the separation of parents is traumatic and would leave deep scars on their tender minds due to separation of their parents. And let us not forget the crushing burden of child support that turns many males and females paupers.

The simple solution of this conundrum is that during their schooling, the teen age dating in school premises or in class rooms should be sternly curbed for which a strategy can be worked out with the help of teachers and parents.

If adults find more liberal environment and resort to permissive outlets minus sting forays, it could drastically reduce the divorce rate, curtail abhorrent crimes as rape and sexual assaults. It could be instrumental is halting to a reasonable scale the separation of families for the sake of having a new sex partner. This society has got to be realistic. Even now the covert sex cartels are operating.  But utilizing those is dangerous and exposing oneself to a Pandora-box of troubles. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Rich Misers in Desi Community

By Saeed Qureshi

Some time ago a poor lonely Pakistani Junaid Khan died of a heart attack. While the dead body of Junaid was kept in Rahma funeral home, a fellow Pakistani Ali Rizvi appealed to the Pakistani community to donate for sending his dead body to Pakistan. The cost was estimated to be between four to five thousand dollars. Apparently this appeal was uncalled-for as the deceased could be buried here in a Muslims’ graveyard.

But the poor family back home wished that the body of the late Junaid Khan be sent to Pakistan. With due deference to the request of the late Khan’s family, Mr. Rizvi floated the appeal for donations. The appeal was patently addressed to the affluent and well-to-do among the Desi community both from India and Pakistan.

 As far I know that this was for the first time that a dead body of a destitute Pakistani was to be transported to Pakistan, for which financial assistance was solicited. Such rare and uncommon emergent requests carry the pathos of humanitarian sympathy and therefore ought to be responded overwhelmingly from less-privileged and privileged alike. But distressingly only three philanthropists offered to foot the relatively heavy bill for sending the dead body of Junaid Khan to Pakistan.

Now this case serves as a stark eye opener. This year in the month of March, the Pakistan Society of North Texas (PSNT), the sole representative body of the expatriate Pakistanis, celebrated the Pakistan Day in a posh hotel with lot of fanfare and gusto. That evening must have cost the PSNT a good amount of money and this money must have been collected from the members or shared by the PSNT executive body. No one knows about that.

The point that I want make is that while a grand gala function fits into the priorities of the PSNT, a humanitarian appeal, first of its kind, was ignored under the pretext of regulations. It is a public knowledge that the PSNT has a sizeable amount deposited in its account.

The funds are sometimes raised for such causes that fall out of the constitutional rigmarole and regulations. It is so because social or humanitarian emergencies cannot be condoned or conducted by strict observance of laws even in the best of societies. There are deviations and discretions to be exercised for such pitiful causes such as that of late Junaid Khan. But funds apart, the bigwigs of the PSNT did not even bother to issue a statement of condolence.

Only three good hearted and compassionate persons offered to foot the heavy bill for transporting the dead body of Junaid Khan. Someone from the PSNT or at the behest of this society could have argued that condolences are not allowed under the constitution of the society. But we hail from a cultural and traditional background that exhorts us to pray for the departed souls, offer Fatiha or express our sorrow on sad occasions such as the demise of a human being.

We all are aware that we have filthy rich individuals in our community whose income swells by the day and by the hour. The streams of money keep joining their ocean of wealth. We have a heavy presence of the community members who are literally sitting on the heaps of money.

There are physicians, the business tycoons, the fast food franchise owners, the importers and exporters, the commission agents, the real estate moguls and so. May God give them more wealth and material gains!

Did you notice that what to speak of giving charity or donations; they come in our social gatherings, cultural unions and fairs. They have a world of their own. These are only the ordinary individuals who readily respond to the needs of indigent and poor members and families of our community.  

I may narrate an account of myself. Way back in 2001 when I came to Dallas as a newcomer with a rudimentary understanding of how our Desi people live here. Incidentally, I met a high profile doctor of our community who I later came to know examines a score of patients daily. I was jobless and was trying to hold on to some occupation here to “pay for the bills”, as the expression goes.
As part of the social chat and out of sheer simplicity, I casually asked him what the job possibilities were for a newcomer like me. Lo and hold your breath! Later that worthy doctor met me on innumerable occasions in social get-togethers especially in poetry sessions but always avoided me.

Such people lavishly spend on personal glorification and publicity but seldom spare a dime for legitimate causes. Now I have served in eminent positions in Pakistan. I basked in the diplomatic galore and held the prominent position of an editor of newspapers including my own English tabloid “Diplomatic Times”. But God is a witness that I was never haughty, nor suffered from vanity or avoided those who needed help by way of a job or financially. 

Why the present PSNT celebrities and those from previous tenures never thought of creating a charity fund to provide succor to the financially handicapped people in our community. There are many among us whose incomes are meager and they live from hand to mouth. There are sick who cannot fully pay their medical bills.

There are others who for want of money cannot hire a lawyer to pursue their legitimate judicial cases. There are also many who are caught in immigration whirlwinds and are suffering at the hands of the cutthroat and greedy non-Desi attorneys.
In all the deserving and genuine cases our attorneys can find time to act as pro-bono for distressed Desi immigrants. The doctors can set aside their time for indigent patients. For those who cannot eat two square meals, a charity fund can be floated for their sustenance. If there are Catholic Charities helping all irrespective of the creed, color or race why can't we have for the Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs?

For such funds or charities, the well off from among the respective communities can set aside 2 per cent of their income on monthly or yearly basis. The Muslims can give their Zakat (religious tax) or Fitrana (a donation given on Eid festivals) in such relief funds.

We know that the people from the Desi communities donate generously for religious causes such as arranging a feast on special occasions, for building a new mosque or paying for the utilities in a temple, mosque or Gurdwara. While those gestures are laudable, it would be equally desirable and praiseworthy to donate for social and humanitarian relief and services.

I am aware of several covert and overt good Samaritans and noble hearted persons who are generous donors and help the needy people among us as best as they can. I shall mention only three persons who are thoroughly selfless yet shun ostentation and publicity of their divine work of generosity and philanthropy.

Though not rich monetarily, esteemed Mike Ghouse is disbursing the intellectual wealth to our community and promoting the most vital objective of fostering goodwill and bonhomie among various religions. Then there is Mr. Farooq Khan and his illustrious wife who follow the shariah injunction that one should help the needy in such a way that “while giving from one hand, the other hand should not know”. This remarkable couple is patronizing a school of poor children in Pakistan exclusively with their own finances.

But before I conclude let me have the honor of mentioning the name of Mr. Khaliq Qureshi, a true model of humility, humanity, self denial, generosity and an inimitable philanthropist in his right. He has helped a whole lot of families and needy persons here and in Pakistan out of his life time savings all these years.

If anyone can be termed a benign icon it is Jinab Khaliq Sahib. If anyone comes near to the model of a good Muslim, a symbol of magnanimity and benevolence, in our community, it is certainly Khaliq Qureshi Sahib.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A Momentous Day for a Great Nation

By Saeed Qureshi
Today the American nation is celebrating its 237th independence day.  It was on this momentous day that the Declaration of Independence written by illustrious Thomas Jefferson (later the third president of the USA) in 1776,was adopted by the Second Continental Congress.

As a result, the 13 colonies declared independence from the British colonial rule and became independent states. The main thrust behind the Declaration of Independence was that” if a government does not protect the rights of its people, the people can create a new government”.

The second historic milestone was the writing of the American constitution in 1787 primarily by James Madison. James Madison later became the fourth president of the United States.

After ratification of draft constitution by 9 out of 13 states (all ratified by 1790), the constitution took effect on March 4, 1789, followed by the inauguration of General George Washington, the same year, as the first president of the federation of the United States of America. The United States consists of 50 states after Hawaii joined US Federation in 1959.

Each year, the 4th of July is celebrated with immense exuberance, great fanfare and peculiar galore of festivities. It is a national holiday.  Besides the encompassing somberness, this day wears a festive look marked and celebrated by indoor and outdoor parties. The military parades, grandiose fireworks, singing of patriotic songs in rallies and gatherings, Family reunions, concerts, barbecues, picnics, baseball games are some of the most fascinating hallmarks of this magnificent day.

The American constitution is the forerunner of other constitutions although the tradition of democracy was already well entrenched in England. It starts, with these three indelible words, “We the People”. These three golden words establish the supremacy of the people as the real source of power.  

While in Britain the institution of feudalism and monarchy was still strident, it was only in the newly born United States that for the first time, the term power belongs to the people was actually put in practice.

The Bill of Rights (the first 10 amendments in the constitution); a glorious and shining part of the American Constitution gives such basic rights to the citizens and on a broader sense to the human beings as were never written or enshrined in any other treatise. These are among others are, freedom of speech, religion, assembly, press and petition the government.

The British has a constitution but it is unwritten and a collection of past traditions, earlier laws and regulations. The Magna Carta (1215 C. E.) was the first document forcing a monarch to yield fundamental rights to the subjects. But its underlying purpose was colonization of the American colonies under the British legal system.

The American constitution was originally a tiny booklet of merely 7 clauses, yet it enshrines basic principles of the governance with accountability and representative democracy as its outstanding hallmark.

There are subsequent 27 vital amendments including the ten in the “Bill of Rights” that totally focus on fundamental and human rights of the citizens. The American constitution limits the power the government, by strictly separating them into three branches of executive, judiciary and legislative.

The basic rights guaranteed in the American constitution make this country a haven for the oppressed and traumatized people whom come here and enjoy equal rights as honorable citizens in the American society. No one is allowed to discriminate on the basis of race, color, caste, creed, religion gender and age and similar petty considerations.

I am talking about the civil society within America and not its postures and policies across the globe. But if it is a question of defending America, the United States would be more justified to use force. Other than that it would be more laudable if it embarks in a peaceful manner, upon a path of helping impoverished nations and rehabilitating them both economically and democratically.  

Wars could be essential but if there is a better path of peace then it should get precedence over bellicosity that is destructive by their nature. However if there is a threat to America’ security this country has a right to defend and chase the enemies to the fringes of the world. Let it lead the world as a redeemer and friend for a collective advancement of the human race.

The Americans takes pride in belonging to a great and most powerful nation and relish dignity and loyalty to this land. We are also called a nation of immigrants and that is truth and nothing but truth.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Egypt Back to Square One!

 July 3, 2013
By Saeed Qureshi

Egyptian army has removed President Muhammad Morsi of Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and has taken over power for the interim period. President Morsi assumed office on June 30, 2012 and has been deposed from his office today (July 3, 2013).

 The decision to depose Morsi is taken by a council consisting of the defense minister Abdul Fatah Khalil Al-Sisi, the political figure Mohamed ElBaradei, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, and the Coptic Pope.The army’s action to depose president Morsi is being termed as a military coup against the ousted president.

The interim period during which the council would replace Morsi means until holding of next elections for a newly elected government to step in. Following massive protests calling for his resignation, Morsi claims that his presidency is still valid and refuses to leave office.
Following the pitched protests at the famous Tehrir Square, the Egyptian Armed forces, on July 1, issued a 48-hour ultimatum which gave the country's political parties until 3 July to meet the demands of the Egyptian people. The Egyptian military also threatened to intervene if the dispute was not resolved by the government by that time.

On the expiry of three days deadline, the army moved into action of deposing president Morsi. The military plans to suspend the constitution, dissolve the parliament, and establish an interim government to be headed by the chief justice.

One is reminded of the 2011 massive protests at the Cairo’s Tehrir Square for several weeks forcing the then president Hosni Mubarak to resign. As a result of the May-June 2012 elections, the Freedom and Justice Party headed by Mr. Morsi, with total support from the Muslim Brotherhood, won the elections.
But what the people of Egypt expected of the new government was not achieved. The people wanted civil liberties, social independence, and a combination of secular and Islamic culture. They wanted revolutionary changes for recovery of the economy and to refurbish Egyptian role as a leading power in the Middle East.

Primarily Muhammad Morsi, as a staunch leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, could not go beyond a certain limit to secularize the society and to switch over the political paradigm to an entirely western type of democracy. He wavered and got stuck up between an Islamic system of government and a democratic dispensation that would open up the society and free it from ideological barriers.

Thus far it could have been accepted by the Egyptian people who rendered historic role and offered great sacrifices for removal of the authoritarian regime of Hosni Mubarak. But the people felt that instead of a military head of state, they were under the sway of a kind of fundamentalism that was as suffocating and oppressive as the military that ruled over Egypt since Anwar Sadat for 41 years.
As if adding insult to injury, president Morsi made certain decisions that were leading towards making him a kind of despot under the farce of democracy. He did not look much different from his hated predecessor who ruled Egypt with an iron hand brooking no opposition. It was not expected of Morsi to grant himself unlimited powers to "protect" the nation in late November 2012, besides assuming power to legislate without judicial oversight or review of his acts.

Although later in face of huge demonstrations against his questionable decision, he annulled his decree which had expanded his presidential authority and removed judicial review, yet he announced that the effects of that declaration would remain intact. It was like taking from one hand what he gave from the other.

On 30 June 2013, the mammoth crowd of protesters stated assembling in the famous Tehrir square calling upon Mrsi to resign. The swelling protests prompted the army to issue the ultimatum to the Morsi that if the protesters' demands were not met by 3 July it would step in and build a road map for the country. It however, clarified that it did not want to rule.

In order to explore and analyze the failure of Morsi and his premature departure from the power, three factors can be highlighted. First, ideologically, the President was unfit to lead a nation yearning for a colossal progressive change, for liberty, human rights, civil society, constitutionalism and a truly democratic dispensation.  

The institution of democracy was installed with the popular vote but for its sustenance only a democratic-minded and moderate leader could be successful.  Morsi was totally imbued and brought up under the ultra conservative religious ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood that would keep the state governance within the orthodox parameters of Islam. So here was a contradiction between what the majority of Egyptian expected form the Arab Spring and what they found as a result of their protests for a change.

President Morsi seemed to be too much in a haste to usurp and concentrate powers in his person so as to stifle any opposition that might accrue from his mission of putting Egypt on the path of a rigid Islamic system in sync with the doctrine and philosophy of the Akhwan-al-Muslimeen (Muslim Brotherhood).  

Unlike other countries where liberal regimes came into being, Morsi wanted to replace the military dictatorship with a kind of theological over-lordship. That did not work with the demand of the Egyptian people especially the youth who wanted a liberalized and emancipated Egypt like the west or the one that was established in Tunisia.

Secondly, the Egyptian army could not accept a person like Morsi as the head of state whose party has been in a state of perpetual confrontation with Hosni Mubarak and the armed forces in general for three decades. All the more he became a thorn for the army, when he sacked several army generals including the military chief Mohamed Hussein Tantavi, as soon he became the president.

Those decisions were his constitutional prerogatives and indeed were legitimate, yet these were repugnant for an army that was ruling the roost for three decades. So the army was on the lookout and the people returning to the Tehrir Square was the last straw and a robust excuse to remove Morsi. Had the army taken this decision without the popular uproar, it would have never succeeded.
The third strong catalyst in the deposition of Morsi was the deep ire and annoyance of Israel that was quite troubled and upset over the hard hitting anti-Jews statements that Morsi has been issuing from time to time.

For instance in a highly stinging statement in September 2010, he called the Israelis "blood-suckers", "warmongers" and "Descendants of apes and pigs", In another daring  statement he lambasted Israel by saying that “The land of Palestine belongs to the Palestinians, not to the Zionists”.

There could also be a backdoor collusion between Israel and the Egyptian army to remove Muhammad Morsi from the political stage of Egypt. He was acceptable neither to the Egyptian army nor to Israel.

Israel wants to maintain the same relations that were in vogue with Egypt, under President Anwar Sadat since October 1970 (killed by the Akhwan related army officers in October 1981) and continued by his successor Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak was too ousted from power on 11 February 2011, following 18 days of unprecedented demonstrations by the Egyptian people.