During the tumultuous political developments encompassing multiple weeks of April, quite a few showbiz and sport celebrities and renowned social media activists weighed in on Imran Khan after his government was ousted through a successful Vote of No-Confidence motion (VONC) in parliament. Khan alleged his removal resulted from a U.S. sponsored conspiracy to punish him for pursuing an independent foreign policy—an allegation for which he has yet to provide any evidence. Different celebrities took to social media handles, recorded short video messages and podcasts, and spoke in Twitter spaces avowing their displeasure against the dismissal of Khan government. Some of them even participated following protests in parts of the country.
Likewise, several VJs on FM radio stations in their all-day-and-night-long musical-turned-political shows lambasted the Supreme Court for its late-night opening in the wee hours thereby facilitating ouster of the PTI government.
Also, innumerable vloggers and journalists slammed the courts, the army, and other institutions who they believed orchestrated the downfall of the PTI government and expressed shame in living in the post-Khan era.
All these people used different mediums and forums, but they had one thing in common and that was that they expressed sheer resentment over the ouster of Khan while calling the new government an “imported” one.
However, what they completely missed was that almost none of them echoed about constitutional supremacy and equally none condemned the utterly unconstitutional ruling of the deputy speaker Qasim Suri. Only a handful of celebrities called the fall of the government a democratic process and part of the flimsy political arena.
Khan’s government was not ousted in any unconstitutional way nor was it sent packing through coup or judicial activism as was the case with most of the previous governments. His exit, including events leading up to his ouster were, by all means, thoroughly constitutional and as per the law. The constitution allows the opposition to come up with a VONC against the PM and the incumbent setup is bound to let that process sail smoothly.
On the other hand, President Arif Alvi whose primary job was to facilitate the constitutional process, deliberately hindered the VONC process. Khan’s handpicked president Alvi’s continuous flirt with constitution by not appointing important government functionaries after PTI’s ouster is keeping Punjab cabinet-less and virtually ungovernable.
Sadly, celebrities and social media influencers did not talk about the sanctity of the constitution, but rather sided with PTI’s hollow anti-Americanism and conspiracy driven VONC narrative. It is, however, unclear whether any of them was even aware of the VONC or the process that follows. In any case, the situation makes it inevitable to make the constitution a part of the syllabus so that, at least, our upcoming generations could learn about the constitution and its significance.
The importance of teaching constitution to students, right from the school to up to university level, is desperately highlighted especially after the recent turn of events. The existing text about the constitution in the books is meagrely explained and does not cover all the aspects and scenarios.
Pakistan Studies books which are taught at multiple levels carry only basics of the constitution and there is no assertion, at any point, about why the constitution is the most important text in the country and why its application in its true spirit is inevitable. Similarly, the books hardly discuss the aftermath of violating the constitution. Deputy Speaker Suri’s April 3 ruling was unconstitutional which necessitates applicability of article 5 on the violator. But other than the opposition and a few legal experts, no one bothered to condemn Suri’s unconstitutional ruling, rather pro-PTI celebrities showered tribute to Suri for turning the tables. And Suri remains a hero to many even today. It must spring surprise for many celebrities that Suri himself is part of the assembly only because of a more-than-two-year-long stay order of the Supreme Court. Suri was de-seated by the election tribunal since NADRA could not verify approximately 52,000 votes cast in the 2018 poll in his favour.
Had the constitution been taught seriously and its core values been discussed in the mainstream media, the actions of Suri and his aides might have resulted in fewer otherwise educated people calling him some sort of champion.
In love of fame, clicks and ratings, celebrities and social media figures jumped the bandwagon of politics but without having enough acquaintance with the process and sanctity of the democracy and constitution. Indeed, they have every right to pick the party of their choice and to extend support. But, if they are aware of the constitutional process and still supporting violators, it is very unfortunate and sets a dangerous pattern for youth which follows and idealises them. And if they have no idea about the VONC or related procedures, then they should have opted not to open up before reading or, these days, simply googling it. And therefore, it is greatly needed to communicate, deliberate and expedite the constitutional debate at multiple levels because countries do not run on hollow narratives, but on the constitution.