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Is the Judges Issue a Distraction to the Economic Crisis?

The most common argument that I get asked day in and day out, is “Judicial issue is diverting the governments attention from the core issue of the economical crisis”, in response I have endlessly argued against the rhetoric, since I have long since believed that the economical problem though valid and very important is more of a transient issue, and a fall-out from the mis-adventures of the old administration (read Musharraf, Shaukat Aziz & Q-League).

Economic stability needs time and a genuine commitment from the leading politicians to solve, only possible with a sincere effort and the courage to look towards a better Pakistan rather then hunting for a juicy under the table wad of cash. Whilst an independent judiciary will play its due role to ensure justice is served to the people of Pakistan and the people are not forced taking matters into their own hands to exercise their own version of civil courts served mob-style on the streets.

The existence of an independent judiciary will more importantly keep our bureaucrats and politicians in check and act as a deterrent for them hopefully preventing them to make a quick buck, while the country goes to hell. Aqil Sajjad has done well in trying to explain the argument in his article which was published in the The News this Saturday

By Aqil Sajjad published in The News on Saturday May 17th

It is being said by some people that the present economic crisis is a result of the uncertainty created by the lawyers’ movement. Some people even say that the judges’ issue is diverting government’s attention from more pressing national issues. Such arguments are being given for ignoring the judges’ issue so that the economy can be put back on track. However, a closer scrutiny of the economy shows that the present economic crisis has nothing to do with the lawyers’ movement that started on March 9.

Loadshedding due to power shortage started in 2006 and any well informed person knew at that time that it was only going to get worse since the Musharraf government had made no serious attempt to address the problem. Similarly, the pressure on foreign reserves and the rupee was also very much expected due to the record trade deficit. This again had nothing to do with the lawyers’ movement. Likewise, many analysts were saying well before March 9, 2007, that the economic growth momentum was not sustainable.

In the light of the above points, it should be clear that our present economic crisis is a result of gross mismanagement by the Musharraf government and it could be anticipated. The lawyers’ movement and the related political uncertainty is definitely not an important contributing factor in this crisis.

Is the judges’ issue delaying a resolution to the economic crisis? Should civil society give up its demand for the restoration of the judiciary? Again, I believe the answer is clearly in the negative for the following reasons:

  1. The judges’ issue does not stop the government from working on the other issues.
  2. A solid institutional basis is needed to put the country on a sustainable path of progress. We keep on having these political crises because we do not have sound institutions. Ignoring the judges’ issue in the name of economy will therefore only bring temporary relief, if at all. But if the judiciary does get restored, then we might have a better institution which should help the country in the long run.
  3. An independent and credible judiciary is also needed to keep the excesses of the government under check. We all know how large-scale corruption and nepotism damage the economy. In the Steel Mills case alone, the government was giving away billions of rupees to the buyer by selling this national asset well below its value. The Supreme Court headed by honourable Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry prevented this big loss to the nation by stopping its privatization. It would therefore be totally ridiculous to argue that civil society’s emphasis on the restoration of the judiciary is a hurdle in improving our economy. Those who care about eliminating corruption so that our resources can be directed towards the development of Pakistan and the well-being of the people must come out strongly on the side of the legitimate judiciary. They should not side with those who are only trying to protect their power and loot through the NRO.


If civil society backs down on this issue for any reason, it will only make self-seeking politicians feel bolder. On the other hand, if civil society wins this battle, it might allow the people of Pakistan to assert themselves more strongly on other issues too. Whether it’s food crisis, inflation, law and order, education, healthcare, or any other such issue, our leaders will feel that they can not totally ignore the wishes of the people and get away with it. For this reason, even if one is not sure whether the judges’ issue ought to be the No 1 priority, one should put one’s full weight behind it. Such a national consensus on an issue provides a rare opportunity for establishing the power of the people which might not come again in our entire life time.


5 Comments

  • Tahseen Alam Khan |

    Without the reinstatement of the Respected Judges we can not have a stable economy. Countries without justice have no future. Unjustice is prevailing every where.

  • Dr RazaHaider |

    Dear Teeth, Sigma is a perception based methodology, usually designed and formulated, so to over cum different field related difficulties thereby curtailing the subject by minimizing the risk factor and maximizing the out put without undergoing derangement at ascertained calculated assumptions.

    This is not a definite version of definition but my interpreted opinion of term. Similarly, in our day to day upcoming engagements say on the start of a hectic day, we evaluate things accordingly and as per urgency, preference, priority and liabilities, so that we may effectively culminate the required task as self designed keeping the objectives as per said domains of above mentioned terms.

    If I evaluate your version and interpret with above cited definition as opinion, I have no hesitation to disagree, on the level of your perception of interpreting the issue, as most urgent, preferred and demanding urgency.

    System is an organized way of managing things. It is usually defined so to run organizations and institutions in a manner feasible to the runners and with a motive to implement, without element of annoyance and unforeseen event with effective thrust, minimizing any hindrance ,whatsoever ,being produced if at all ,as in this case PCO and respective extortionist .

    Derangement in a smooth and effective system does not depend on individual but its structural anatomy that curtails by virtue of its architectural designs any such forces that may disrupt its existence in uniformity.

    In addition to such strict structural architecture reinforcement it element such as qualification, background, merit, check and balances, and reputation are the key factors that are important in maintaining the credibility and essence of system.

    Presence or absence of a person from the site and sights of such systemized institute never terminate in to turmoil of the institution.

    In order to facilitate such authoritative systemized structure long term checks and balances, with intense scrutinizing built in tendency of system is required.

    It is not that Mr. so and so will come and curtail as if he is the only field related expert .if he is that much credible and respected then the person may be put up for presidency appointment .

    Please I have no reservation to the justice but the term has been used to float as an idea.

    Now if I consider the present structural architecture of judicature as a system ,the final authoritative prerogative still lies in the hands of those that are qualified enough as main culprit from Mr. Musharraf to Farooq naik and what who ever .

    Under such circumstances ,a change directed on the basis of ego ,prestige and one man show is only a piece of well wishes as forecast with no future prospects as it is not the judge that is a authority. It’s the system that is authoritative by virtue of its implementing power of the state.

    In my opinion ,this subject of , urgency ,priority ,preference ,liability ,obligations ,long term benefit and merit ,should now get entrance as the main mass of desire and not directed on individuals EGO .

    Basic issues are basic issues which demand urgent relief .nothing can be compromised on the theme of basic issues. Regard.

  • Riaz Haq |

    What we see here is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs being played out in Pakistan. The “civil society” is in pursuit of revenge against Musharraf under the guise of its “high ideals” and their need for “self-actualization”. At the same time, the “average Pakistani” is struggling with satisfying the basic physiological needs at the bottom of the pyramid: roti, bijli and paani. There is a huge disconnect between the “haves” and “have-nots” and blaming Musharraf is not going to fix this gap. The only thing that will help resolve it is more sensitivity and focus on the plight of people at the lowest rungs who constitute the overwhelming majority of Pakistanis. Pakistani judiciary, ranked as the third most corrupt institution by Transparency International, is the least likely source of justice for the unwashed masses trying to make ends meet on a daily basis.

  • Owais |

    Civil society is the most jarring term for my senses. There is nothing civil about this society. We can see this either as top down or a bottom up situation.

    In a society where there is no common courtesy and the haves flaunt their ability to easily break the law as a badge of pride, there can be no justice.

    If we want justice we should be willing to take it upon us to redeem ourselves, since the judges are also coming from amongst us.

    The only reason there is so much demand on restoration of judges is that “Punjab” wants it or rather the Punjab only PML-N wants it and the electorate is going along with them.

  • Tahseen Alam Khan |

    Injustice of today is disaster of tomarrow.