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16 March, a new dawn in Pakistan

Guest Blog by Amjad Malik

Yousaf Raza Gillani’s early in the morning address to the nation restoring the remaining including the Chief justice of Pakistan Mr. Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chowdhary was a sigh of relief to the nation. Alas, President Zardari’s advisors could not foresee the repercussions of his decisions not to restore CJ and imposition of Governor rule and he had to see this day. The same mistake was made of the aide of Gen. Musharraf on 9 march 2007 when they advised him to sack the very judge who was lauded by millions in the country for his fairness and bravery. In any event, in the end common sense prevailed and politics won on the day. PM’s decision to seek review of the decision of Supreme Court of 25 February 2009 is the key to promote tolerance in the state, and harmony amongst provinces. This review will also keep the little left respect of the supreme court intact too, as parliamentary action would have promoted confrontation between both. This is the victory of the whole nation which is alive and conscious of the situation it is in, and the whole nation including all section of society whether political workers, civil society, media, lawyers, and lay men, women, and children deserve to be applauded for their forbearance and free expression of their will by participating in the long march.

One must wonders that due to lack of foresightedness, the rulers provided an opportunity to the slept lion Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif to show his bravery and defiance on principles, and popularity which is devastating for the Govt at this early juncture of their 5 years slot. But it will be unjust if we forget the steadfast lawyer leadership, UN intimidated media and robust civil society with thousands of unnamed supporting characters who brought the rulers to their knees and won fruit on the day of long march. They stood on the ground like they did on 3 November 2007 at the time of emergency. Govt of Gillani deserves to be appreciated for listening and meeting public demands, respecting the will of the people as Lawyers and civil society were on streets since 9 March 2007. Army command deserves applause for nipping their lust for power when they bore patiently with the inefficiencies of our today’s rulers who blindfolded threw the nation into a turmoil and flared the hatred when the spirit of reconciliation was in the air. This is the time when Pakistani people have a chance to regroup and make this country a mirror image of the aspirations of millions of those who decided to join this new land at the time of independence in 1947 in a dream come true style by sacrificing nearly 4 million souls. Nation was jubilant in May 1998 after becoming an atomic power and now the nation has a cause to be overjoyed after seeking victory on a principled point of restoration of Chief Justice who defied a military dictator.


If the political forces wishes to move forward from the stalemate of 25 February, then implementation of ‘Charter of Democracy’ and free judiciary are they key ingredients to restore true democracy in Pakistan and this can only restrict military intervention(s) and nip the ‘law of necessity’ in the bud. 20 July 2007 when CJ was restored first, I wrote that one judge does not secure independence of judiciary but is a first step towards right direction. We saw the lawyers reaction, when necessary expectations were not met when SC gave a decision dismissing dual offices case against the Qazi Hussain Ahmed & orders were torn apart. I still hold the same view and political will, consultation and joint collaboration is required to effect this process to conclusion. The whole institution of judiciary needs to be revamped and If these dreams are to be translated in reality then spade work by Supreme Court Bar Association must start now to give a road map on crucial topics such as appointment of judges via non political and unbiased commission, non controversial non political future lawyers who in the end become judges, politics free bar, training of lawyers and judges, accountability of top judiciary, financial autonomy of top judiciary, protection of judges, and separation of administration from judiciary coupled with safe guards to prevent judiciary turning into another military style unbridled power which parallels the executive . These are the questions which needs to be addressed by Lawyer representatives so that Parliament could do positive legislation in days to come.

It was disturbing when we saw a popular political party taking similar actions what we witnessed on 12 May 2007 by a military dictator i.e imposing s.144, blocking channels, exclusion orders for certain leaders, closing borders and usage of containers are a few examples of many. Suspension basic human rights is against the law of the land and international law and Society endorsed and encouraged the freedom of expression, and tolerance as enshrined in Pakistan’s 1973 Constitution (art15,19, and 25) and nation considered the right of people of free speech as inalienable that is why they came in huge numbers when channels were blocked. The welcoming role of sensibles of PPP including Raza Rabbani, Aitzaz Ahsan, Safder Abbassi and Sherry Rehman, Minister of Information who resigned at the time when curbs against Pakistani media were directed acted like a fresh air in a very suffocated atmosphere. It is for the PPP to decide to bring those to books who were truly responsible to bring the country to a total standstill and for adverse administrative measures and imposition of Governor rule, though the public has given their verdict already.

In the current geo political situation in the country option of reconciliation with the people and political forces of Pakistan is the best route possible to curb radicalization and invasion of extremism and as current situation desires all heads of constitutional tracheotomy to observe extreme patience and wisdom and be visionary to avoid conflicts which have serious repercussions for the state of Pakistan. Government of the day must operate a policy of listen and learn and ensure implementation of the ‘Charter of Democracy’ in its letter and spirit, as that’s the dying wish an pledge to the nation of their leader of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhuttoo, and a recipe to avoid disaster. The whole nation needs an appreciation for their patience, bravery and ruler’s mischief. Well done Pakistan.

Amjad Malik is a Solicitor-Advocate of the Supreme Court of England and Wales AND Chair of Association of Pakistani lawyers (UK)