An open letter written by Amna Piracha on the new face of controlled media under the PEMRA axe
Mr. Mujahid Barelvi
My encounter with you the other day left me disturbed. At first I thought I would let this pass but we are living through historic times and no matter who wins this battle in the short term, it is important that a record of sorts is kept.
I have known you as a friend but also as an independent journalist who stood up against a cruel dictator and a sordid hangman and therefore when you grilled me the other day and tried to push the direction of the discussion to wards the propagation of the view point of the current dictator and his immoral regime I was grieved both at the loss of respect that I have always shown you but more so at your transformation from a man of integrity and honor to a henchman of a distasteful, unpopular and illegitimate ruling clique. This kind of behavior one expects from a Nazeer Naji but at least I for one had not expected it of you.
To enliven a discussion, to bring out different view points, to show both sides of an issue is the duty of a compere, but to flagrantly support one view point over another is another matter and ill becomes a compere.
For the first time in the history of this country, a collective body of judges has questioned the right of a military dictator to impose his writ on the people of this country. The legal fraternity has shown the will and courage to stand up for the rule of law and to lend support to the independent judiciary. To denigrate the great service they have done and continue to do is not only shameful but is in fact a disservice to the country and its future. Your argument that because the judiciary did not fulfill its due role in the past or that some of the judges who have today spurned the military dictator had previously acquiesced is fallacious and absurd as it would lead one to believe that any person having once made an error of judgment is then barred for life from taking the correct course. This is not the first time that judges of honor have done themselves proud and I refer here to Justice Safdar Shah, Justice Dorab Patel, Justice Haleem, who despite the pressure from the then military dictator followed the call of their conscience and acquitted Pakistans first elected Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in that sham of a murder case. They too had made the error of validating Zias martial law but does that in any way detract from the fact that they refused to send an innocent man to the gallows, that when the crunch came they refused to sell their souls.
One would like to wish that martial law had not been validated or indeed that any one of the previous acts of dictators had not been given legal cover but alas that cannot be so. But, if today the judiciary in its majority has stood by the people of Pakistan and the legal fraternity has woken to its constitutional duty of protecting the Constitution and the civil society and students and professionals have realized that they too are bound to protect this country which is not the fiefdom of a handful of Generals but ours and ours alone, then you should have the courage to salute them and not mock at them.
I will make this letter public in the hope that though I will not have the audience you command, it will reach some and those few will be the ones who will make the difference.