The pardoning president

by Badiuzzaman Khan | August 3, 2011 10:26 pm

Mohammad Badrul Ahsan
The president has pardoned again. A forgiving man has forgiven now because he has also forgiven before. A lot of people may be upset with him, but I think I understand the man. He has seen too much death in his life. The normal wears and tears. The genocide in 1971. The flames of violent politics consumed his wife. Then, of course, ageing has its daily dalliance with death.

I am sure the president went through a thought process every time he signed a pardon. It is possible that the political man got philosophical at that crucial moment. May be that is when the finality of life flashed before his eyes, and he was disposed to save another life with the power vested in him. A legal man himself, he knows nobody is guilty until proven. He must have given it a serious thought every time he overturned that truth. He let go of men whose guilt was proven clearer than daylight.

Others may blame it on politics, but I blame it on old age. Sophocles said many centuries ago that no man loves life like him that’s growing old. We are all mortals but old age is more mortal for the same reason a burning fuse on a bomb approaches the certainty of explosion.

No question our president lives in that Chiaroscuro universe where life and death wage daily battles. It is possible that he occasionally forgets he is the head of the state, who must always keep the state in his head. But then aposiopesis does occur, and from time to time the head and the state drift apart.

Amongst the 22 questionable men who have been pardoned by this president, 21 were death-row prisoners and one, convicted of corruption, was sentenced to jail. The one and only common link amongst all of them is that they belong to the same political party, which has put this president in Bangabhaban.

In so much as he deserves to be in the Guinness Book of World Records for pardoning so many convicts during half the term of any presidency, it is for the same reason that his presidency has already shrunk in public perception. This president has set too many precedents to claim to be a national icon. It may seem that a partisan president sits in a national office to serve his party men.

But then reputation follows the Law of Archimedes. The father of the pardoned convict has already boasted that this pardon has made his son famous in the country. Then he explained the dynamics of that fame, spitting out a long list of other famous men. His son is famous because all these famous men now know his name, the father said. Hope the president understands what that means. The goodwill displaced by the president with his inglorious clemency has accrued upon a hardcore convict.

One can assume that our president has read Friedrich Nietzsche. The German philosopher writes that if there is something to pardon in everything, there is also something to condemn. All these men he has pardoned to this date were pardoned because they killed for the party. These men stabbed, shot and chopped their opponents in consummate rivalry of gangland politics.

Yet, the fact remains that they have killed. They have killed the husbands, brothers, fathers and sons of the citizens of this country. What about them and their right to justice? What about their fear, grief, frustration and desperate hope of recompense for the unspeakable horror of their losses?

The wife of the victim of the president’s latest pardon beneficiary has asked if he could have shown similar mercy to the killer(s) of his wife. Others have done threadbare analysis of this presidential pardon in newspaper columns and television talk shows. I say all of it has been a futile exercise. There is no point in doing conversion therapy on someone who acts with conviction. The president must have carefully reviewed every petition for pardon and based his decision on political expediency.

Although it is hard to believe that he did it. He got all those atrocious men off the hook one after another. And how will he ever realise how it has undermined the sanctity of his office! Presidential pardon is a privilege of power in the event of purported miscarriage of justice. It isn’t the power of privilege that should be abused to carry out injustice.

The writer is Editor, First News and a columnist of The Daily Star. Email:[1]

Link requested by Badiuzzaman Khan | original source at[2]


Source URL: