a letter to activists of the People’s Resistance by Dr. Awab Alvi
One issue which we all have dodged to question ourselves, is to decide what is acceptable when the powers-to-be talk about the ‘conditional’ restoration of the judiciary, either in the form of the much trumpeted 60-point constitutional package or separately.
For me, this movement (People’s Resistance) has been for the unconditional restoration of the Nov 3rd Judiciary (which also has included condemning the Martial Law & the restrictions on the media) When the powers-to-be talk about ‘middle ground’ compromises in the restoration of the Judiciary, it is sadly FAR from our own objectives. The irony is that we, in PR all seem to be preparing for a celebration the day Zardari restores the Judiciary in whatever way he thinks its best ‘for-him’. Is this ‘whatever-way-possible’ acceptable to PR. It sadly is not my wish, and I may venture to say that it might also echo the sentiments of other like-minded friends in this group
In my opinion the only reason to make a circus of the constitutional package is to show the judges that the powers-to-be have given them grace, and they should remain grateful to have received this gift-from-god. It is just another facade to the traditional appointment by the President / establishment which ensures that the buck stops at the supreme authority thereby ensuring the status quo. I hope we, in PR, are not fooling ourselves to believe that the ‘Zardari form’ of restoration comes without any strings attached. Had they been sincere then all this hoopla was not necessary and the legal way, via an executive order, was not too difficult to pull out of the bag. As opinion makers in this resistance we should be clear on our position, and be willing to call a spade, a spade and not worry otherwise.
Long March or Long Mobilization
In my opinion the Long March ‘mobilization’ was a tremendous success, it showed us that there are still thousands of Pakistanis who continue to believe in Pakistan. But sadly the Anti-Climatic end was a tragic blow which took us all by surprise and our movement is profusely bleeding as a direct consequence of the fateful decision to terminate the event so abruptly.
It is not the fact, that we did not have a dharna, it is not the fact, that there was no confrontation, it is not the fact, that we did not achieve anything except show up at 2 am in the morning and disappear just before sunrise. For me it is the feeling of immense betrayal which was most visibly seen on the faces of the thousands of patriotic Pakistanis standing on Constitutional Avenue in front of the Parliament, the feeling of having been ‘sold out’ by yet another leader.
My heart goes out to our friends who traveled 1200 km up north from Karachi in a mind numbing frenzy, rocking to the tunes of Mujhe-Insaf-do or the rhyme of Lab-hain-Azaad having been drummed to the chant of “Hum Mulk bachanay Niklay Hain – Aao Humaray Saath Challo” and even to convincingly tell their colleagues ‘Hum Judges restore kar kay aain gay‘ this sudden change of plan was tragic it was like having been disgraced publicly barely 3 hours into their arrival in Islamabad, as if to have said ‘go back home, you crazy patriotic fools, we only wanted to test your mobilization skills‘. It literally turned out to be nothing but a Long Mobilization, a show of strength, a game of numbers. If numbers was the intention, then the money spent to mobilize people from Karachi, Sukkur, Multan and Lahore, could have been better utilized to hire a sizable audience like the one purchased by Musharraf on the night of May 12th 2007, standing on the same stage before an audience of thousands he too, like Aitzaz, lacked the umph to deliver the goods, little good did the May 12th Jalsa do for Musharraf, that we expect miracles from the lawyers mobilization on Friday the 13th
Instinctively I blame the core leadership which naturally points to the figure-head Aitzaz Ahsan, who will forever carry the burden of this fumbled catch, he alone had the opportunity of a life-time to have been garlanded in the history books as the man who changed Pakistan, but sadly, he now is regarded as yet another leader that ‘could have changed Pakistan, but couldn’t’. This rising star turned into a shooting star, vanishing into infinity barely moments after it appeared on the horizon of Islamabad.
Postmortem, even Aitzaz accepts that it may have been a ‘strategic mistake’, but in an attempt to do damage control, he claims it to have been a good decision in hindsight, blaming the diminishing numbers of lawyers on the front-line in the presence of an overwhelmingly politically charged crowd which had the potential of running out of control. The scenario might have been true, but the sudden dismissal like the Anti-Climax orchestrated by Aitzaz was precisely what the doctor could have ordered in the prescription written out to Musharraf and Asif Ali Zardari, who may have been cowering at home in tachycardia watching the buildup to the Long March, they both truly could not have asked for a better finale to the Long March, a finale one would always wish your arch nemesis to always have before any big contest. It was simply finger lick’in good. Did Aitzaz and his team leaders play into the hands of the establishment, willingly or unwillingly they might have.
The Anti-climax witnessed that fateful night can be compared to the feeling one has while rocking to great music in a dance club and all of a sudden the lights & music turn off, the frenzy dissipates instantly and the people disappear, dismayed, disgruntled and disheartened. It was this feeling of helplessness that destroyed the movement, with no hope to live for, a nation limps back home to try and forget to never dream again. this is what destroyed the movement. Whatever is to become of the Movement is a fading dream shattered on the morning of Friday the 13th in year of Two Thousand and Eight
What to do?
How so ever, one may feel regarding the actions of the Lawyer leadership that day, one must quickly recover in time before the powers-to-be make minced meat out of our issue. I fear that is exactly what Asif Ali Zardari is doing these days, trying to cajole a restoration so that he alone can bask in glory, while he attempts to sneak past his version of the conditional restoration while we tend to our wounds
My suggestion for members of the People’s Resistance is to urgently get to work primarily to re-evaluate our position on what form of judicial restoration is acceptable to us. Maybe crack open the 60-point package and go through it one by one deciding what’s acceptable and whats not, once this position is determined then I urge PR to issue a public statement, independent of any lawyer movement or political party but simply as a civil society urging for our demands. We must remain as a pressure group that leads the change for the un-conditional restoration of the Judiciary, let not the promises of compromises be our guiding light to salvation. Let us for once stand up for Pakistan and lead the way and not be led.