Today The News published an article by Umar Cheema titled PTI changes constitution to open gates for those accused of corruption where he argues that a portion of the PTI constitution was modified to give immunity to some favored individuals.
The Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) has revised its constitution, introducing a radical change that would grant immunity to the office-bearers facing corruption charges, a major amendment that could open PTI gates for anyone tainted with corruption charges, even those powerful people who are in the government.
The clause governing the qualification criteria for the PTI office-bearers in the previous constitution had stated: “…who has not been convicted or charged with an offence of moral turpitude.” In the constitution revised after October 30 mammoth gathering in Lahore, the word ‘charged’ has been removed and now it only says: “…who has not been convicted with an offence of moral turpitude.”
It is quite easy for a writer to play with words and use them out of context for framing his own argument, I believe this is the second time where Umar Cheema has written an op-ed and has chosen to confuse the public merely based on the confusing play of a word.
If we were to merely analyse Umar Cheemas argument – He alleges that the word “charged” had been removed in a attempt to give immunity to various office bearers, lets take a closer look to see the implications of such a modification.
Charge, is defined as “to make a claim of wrongdoing against; accuse or blame” which can easily be baseless allegation on upon someone and can remain unsubstantiated, akin to being condemned “guilty until proven innocent“. With such a myriad of potential mudslinging accusations I believe PTI deliberated hard to avoid getting sucked into a spiraling endless debate on their potential candidates being held hostage to unsubstantiated accusations or charges, they instead choose to focus on a more robust word which did in fact remain in PTI’s constitution even after the revision “Convicted” which means a verdict of guilty given by a court of law.
In both statements original & revised, the term “Moral Turpitude” did not change, for those searching for its definition can simply understand it as “the candidates reputation in society” but it can be precisely defined as “a concept which refers to conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals”
So in full context the PTI constitution will now select candidates who do not have an outstanding court verdict and were of good reputation within society, moving away from basing their rejection upon unsubstantiated allegations
Had if, this been the only clause in the selection of a candidate, then one might have to seriously wonder about the selection criteria of PTI candidates, but it is not, Umar Cheema conveniently forgot to mention or take into consideration the other SEVEN clauses. I reproduce here the relevant portion of the PTI constitution that is important to the discussion and can confidently challenge the readers to see if such an elaborate constitutional section can pave the way to grant immunity to any favored individuals – I let you be the judge.
Only such persons shall be selected for nomination as Party candidates who fulfill the following qualifications:
- Whose sources of income and wealth are not based on corruption;
- Whose standard of living is in accordance with his known sources of income;
- Who has not obtained plots and permits through influence and bribery;
- Who has not used his influence to get remission of loans;
- Who has not been convicted with an offence involving moral turpitude;
- Who is not known to have any affiliation with the underworld, or known to have amassed wealth from illegal and anti-social activities.
- Who shall disclose his assets and assets of his immediate family, Income earned and taxes paid before filling his nomination papers; and
- Who has not been directly responsible for unconstitutional acts violating the independence of the Judiciary.
All these qualifications are in addition to and not in substitution of the qualifications provided for the membership of the Parliament and the Provincial Assemblies under the Constitution and the laws of Pakistan. In case of any objection to the qualification of a candidate, the matter will be resolved by the Scrutiny Committee appointed by the Chairman for the purpose.
As regards to the property dealings which Mr. Cheema also frames in his article, there is absolutely no foul play, all are legal transactions and there can not be any issue of conflict of interest. The land was bought and sold legally to whoever paid the offer value, be it close friends or unknown individuals a pure business deal. It must be remembered that a conflict of interest comes into play when a person/leader is entrusted [ameen] with public funds or organizational funds and chooses to exploit the relationship for personal benefit and goes forth to sell these assets to his favored friends and aides. All individuals involved in the transactions, bought and sold the land with their hard earned savings.
As we can clearly see that the fundamental permise of his “charge” argument was inherently flawed, the remainder of the op-ed continues to show his deliberate effort at trying to tarnish the image of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf
Credibitly of his writings go further down into questioning that only a week earlier he wrote a scathing piece against Imran Khan accusing him of dubious financial wrongdoing in the Benami transaction, but when pushed into a corner he too inadvertently confesses on TV that its not entirely foul play
Umar Cheema on AAJ TV: If I tell you frankly, 95% I still believe that there is no wrong doings on the part of Imran Khan or Jemima Khan, I still can’t understand why the drafters of this document used this word. was it to implicate Imran Khan? or…”
So might this all be part of a grand plan to defame PTI in the eyes of the public, I let you decide because a correspondent in The News will plead his innocence …
It is indeed, the hardest thing for an innocent to prove his innocence from heresy allegations …. versus a crook ignoring all accusations of his corruption…. this is the irony of politics in Pakistan