Thursday, December 15, 2011
How to bring Pakistan and Bangladesh closer in a confederation
I was in Dhaka the day we won the world cup in cricket. The excitement was all over the place. In the morning, I had to visit a government office to get some information, accompanied by an official guide. Office after office was closed.
“Is there a strike?” I wondered.
“No, the officers are at home watching the cricket match,” the guide explained.
Finally, he found an officer in his seat. “You have great sense of duty,” I complimented him on his presence. The officer, with a white beard, smiled. “Well, I have my son at home, calling me every hour to give the latest score.” There was widespread jubilation on the result, as if Bangladesh itself had won. Such were the emotions of the people.
After moving about for several days and meeting people, including public servants, it seemed that the people, if they could, would love to lift their country and place it next to Pakistan. Even after so many years, the separation and its aftermath had not diminished the deep Muslim brotherhood.
We can do now what we should have done back in 1971. We can create a framework that brings us closer and closer, overcoming the bitterness of the past. While retaining their separate identities, the two countries can unite in a confederation. Minimal in the beginning, the relations will grow gradually as trust and understanding increases.
How to do it? As the first step, Parliaments of the two countries should adopt the draft constitution given below to form “Pak Desh.” It provides only a framework for bringing the two countries closer in their mutual interest, without imposing any action that any side may consider undesirable, or interference in its internal affairs. It also does not propose any grandiose plan, such as a common currency or common Parliament.
The Constitution of Pak Desh
WHEREAS the people of Pakistan and Bangladesh, having won Independence in 1947 as a single country, want to have as close relations as possible, while retaining their sovereignty and independence;
WHEREAS the people of both countries, being part of the Muslim Ummah, want to cooperate and collaborate in the promotion of Islam and closer relations with Muslims everywhere;
WHEREAS the two countries have common interests and objectives and want to work together to achieve them;
NOW, THEREFORE, they hereby adopt this Constitution, through their representatives in Parliaments of Pakistan and Bangladesh, and it will take effect from _____.
1. Pakistan and Bangladesh will form a confederation, to be called “Pak Desh.”
2. Pakistan and Bangladesh will retain their names and independence as sovereign countries.
3. Pakistan and Bangladesh will be called henceforth respectively Western and Eastern Wings of Pak Desh with regard to affairs of the Confederation.
4. President The head of Pak Desh will be Pak Desh President.
5. On the recommendation of Parliament of either Wing, Parliaments of both Wings will elect as the Pak Desh President a person, who qualifies to be elected the President of his Wing, with votes of more than 50 percent of the total members of each Parliament.
6. Pak Desh President will continue in office without an limit of age until he resigns, is declared unfit mentally and physically or Parliament of either Wing shows lack of confidence in him with a vote of more than 50 percent of its total members.
7. Pak Desh President will be provided official residence in the Wing of his domicile. When visiting the other Wing, he will stay in the President House or
8. Council Pak Desh will have a Council, to be called Pak Desh Council, consisting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Interior of Governments of both Wings.
9. While discussing an matter that is not under the jurisdiction of any of the Council Members, the relevant Ministers of both Wings will be invited to participate in discussion and decision.
10. Pak Desh President will preside over the meetings of the Pak Desh Council.
11. The Council will meet at least once in every 90 days.
12. The Council will take all decisions with consensus of its members.
13. Every decision of the Council will take effect in both Wings after 90 days unless Parliament of either Wing overrules it or fails to pass relevant legislation within the given period.
14. If Parliament of a Wing modifies a decision of the Council before the end of 90 days, the modification will take effect after the approval of Parliament of the other Wing.
15. Secretariat a) The Secretariat of Pak Desh will have a setup each in Islamabad and Dhaka.
b) The Secretariat staff will consist entirely of employees provided on deputation by the Government of the relevant Wing.
c) The staff, subject to the rules of their Government, will retain lien with their parent departments to get promotion, when due, and other benefits.
16. The Governments of the two Wings will approve the budget of Pak Desh, with each Government bearing half of the total budget expenditure.
17. The official languages of the Secretariat will be Urdu and Bangla.
18. Every staff member of the Secretariat will be required to be very fluent in both languages, so that he can read, write and speak in either language without difficulty.
19. Islam Both Wings will cooperate and collaborate in the promotion of Islam through all possible means and in having closer relations with Muslims everywhere.
20. The embassies and diplomatic missions of the two Wings will collaborate to improve relations of Pak Desh with Muslim countries.
21. Foreign policy Both Wings will consult each other regularly on foreign policy matters and their embassies and diplomatic missions will collaborate on matters of common interest.
22. Visa Each Wing will set up visa offices in major cities of the other Wing.
23. Visa offices will receive applications for visas directly through registered post. Interviews will not be required for tourist and business visas.
24. The visitors from one Wing to the other Wing will not have to report their arrival and departure at a police station. On arrival and departure, a visitor will submit only a report card at immigration counter.
25. Defense The military attack on a Wing will be considered an attack on the other Wing also and both will fight against the aggressor with all available means, including nuclear weapons.
26. Both Wings will cooperate and collaborate in defense matters, including training, equipment supply and joint military exercises.
27. Commerce The trade between the two Wings will be considered internal, subject only to essential regulations of the relevant Government.
28. A private or public limited company in either Wing will be allowed to set up an office or factory in the other Wing after informing the central bank of the Wing, without requiring formal permission.
29. There will be no duties or taxes on the items traded between the two Wings, if grown, produced or manufactured locally.
30. Buyers in a Wing will pay in their own currency for imports from the other Wing.
31. The currency of a Wing will be converted into the currency of the other Wing only through scheduled banks and at a rate determined daily by the central bank of the respective Wing.
32. Communication The Governments of the two Wings will set up jointly an undersea optic fiber link between them, share the initial cost and subsequent running expenses and offer its use free of charge to telecom companies of both Wings, provided they apply domestic rates to their customers for inter-Wing voice calls and other communications.
33. Domestic postal rates will apply to the surface mail between the two Wings.
34. Each Wing will subsidize by more than 50 percent the fares of the Lahore-Dhaka and Karachi-Dhaka flights of its national carrier.
35. The two Wings will have joint regular shipping services for inter-Wing trade and passenger services.
36. Both Wings will negotiate with India for transit of direct passenger and goods trains between them, running under Indian escorts.
37. Education The public sector universities and other educational institutions in one Wing will admit students from the other Wing on merit, whether they get scholarships from their Government or want to study at their own expense.
38. The Government of a Wing will promote the teaching of the national language of the other Wing in its educational institutions.
39. Sports Both Wings will hold regular annual inter-Wing matches in cricket, hockey, football, athletics, and other sports.
40. The best players of both Wings in a sport may form Pak Desh teams to play against teams of other countries.
41. Culture Each Wing will set up cultural centers in the major cities of the other Wing to promote better understanding.
42. The feature films produced in one Wing will be shown in the other Wing, whether in original language, dubbed or with subtitles, to provide larger markets to their film industries.
43. Joint production of films will be encouraged with government subsidies.
44. The state-owned and private television channels of both Wings will be encouraged to exchange content and to produce it jointly.
45. The Government of both Wings will sponsor exchange visits of university teachers and students, journalists, writers, artists, etc.
46. The newspapers and magazines of a Wing may print facsimile editions in the other Wing to promote better understanding of their Wing, provided that the facsimile editions will not include local advertisements and news to avoid conflict with local publications.
47. Cooperation The two Wings will continue to explore possibilities of more cooperation and collaboration in all fields of common interest.