Hamid Mir, the Facebook ban, rule of law and Basant.

A couple of months ago, during the whole Basant ban days, Hamid Mir wrote an interesting column in Jang. In it, he argued that there’s a little bit of “Musharraf and Zardari” in anyone who questions the Basant ban or who (like Salman Taseer) publicly announces his or her decision to flout it. The argument was that rule of law is rule of law is rule of law. If the judiciary decides something should be banned, then law-abiding citizens should honour that ban. Otherwise, they become like Musharraf and Zardari who think that they are above the law.

The interesting thing today, as documented by this blogger is that there is a significant overlap between the class of people who argued for rule of law as an absolute concept, and the class of people who is upset by the facebook ban.

the most interesting fall out of the court order is the strong reaction of Pakistani urban middle class youth, which widely uses Facebook for social interaction. The same youth was the most active supporter of movement for restoration of present judiciary. They are demanding from the government to immediately lift the blockage of Facebook website.

Many people are expressing anger at the PTA, which is somewhat unfair since the PTA argued against a total ban on facebook, although as some people are pointing out PTA seems to have gone beyond its mandate of only banning facebook (although has anyone read the full text of the LHC order?).

But the point is, rule of law is quite clearly not absolute. Certain laws are idiotic, and the basis for these laws should be questioned. Of course for many other people, the facebook ban didn’t go far enough. But other, saner people tend to realize that rule of law is not absolute when they have a logical reason to be disgusted by a particular law.

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