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True independence of institutions or just a ‘job’

Guest Blog by Amjad Malik

On 5th of May 2007 Lahore High Court Bar gathered a storm where deposed Chief Justice of Pakistan was facing trial on charges of misconduct, came to the city with a procession of lawyers and won the day. He won the hearts and minds of lay Pakistanis for just saying ‘No’ to the outgoing General. Ahsan Bhoon then President of Lahore High Court Bar was at forefront in the host committee organising that event. Since then he became a priority in the eyes of establishment and like Americans say ‘there is a price for everyone in Pakistan’ Mr. Bhoon proved that right by putting the price of his leadership of popular lawyer movement for the sake of becoming Mr. Justice Bhoon proving Sir Allama Iqbal right that Muslims bowed down when the time came to standstill in the battlefield. No offence to the judge, he did what all are doing around, he grabbed what he could.

Another example of a fiery anchor Dr Shahid Masood who gained prominence from his popular ‘views on news’ programme at local TV channel later was prompted or rather demoted to ‘Merey Mutabiq.’ He successfully caused stir in the ranks of the blue eyed clan by touching the corny subjects. One TV channel nearly went bankrupt as these lots were adamant that these newly liberated channels can truly bring true independence of media in a society where military regimes have deep rooted stakes visible at every corner of the major cities and ingrained in every chapters of the national history of Pakistan. He hit the nail aright and after partly causing 3 of November emergency, caved in when newly installed Government found him to be their loyal subject ready to do a job under them other than the job of nailing them for their wrong doings. At last his fire, mighty claims of principles, and future aspirations seeing media on top, all went to ashes and he gave in and accepted the hiring & firing role of chairmanship of national television PTV, a job truly well suited for a managerial type man. In UK, Jeremy Paxman would never accept a job of management of a TV station when his mastery is an anchorship of BBC ‘Newsnight’ a popular daily current affair programme. However, the sacred struggle for a genuinely free media was sacrificed at the altar of pragmatism and after shaking all the conscience of the nation to be brave and steadfast against the General, he left all on the likes of Hamid Mir, Ansaar Abbassi and Rauf Klasra or at best for the younger generations to fight for the so called freedom in some other times. He must have thought that he has done enough and let’s give other a chance, can’t blame him, he did befittingly to the environment as who knows he may not have this opportunity again. Alas, the destination is far away but struggle is lost for a job.

9th March initiated an era of constitutionalism in Pakistan and 20th of July 2007 could have been a beginning of a new era if the top judge understood it, however, we lost the opportunity to psychologically defeating the mind set which promotes dictatorship in our minds and attitudes. On 3rd of November General Musharraf once again imposed emergency curbing media freedom and sacking loyalist judges. Be Nazir was hunted down to save the western monopoly and despite all odds 18th February 2008 election results vetoed all the actions of the military man. Parliament came and went without declaring unlawfully confined judges as ‘restored’ instead they were merely freed by the Chief Executive who was yet to swear his oath. General Musharraf was resuscitated by the same clan who prayed 9 years for his ouster and if he survives another 6 months, critics strongly believe that he has the capacity to stay for another 5 years and all thanks to anti Musharraf forces who are wishy washy lacking unity of thought and action. Since taking his oath, PM so far, could not get time to enact the so called ‘Bhurban Declaration.’ Despite the fact that Mr. Gilani lost good 5 years of his life in jail on trumped up charges for the sake of parliament’s sovereignty, when the time came he happily handed over to the military commander the very powers and vested in him to exhibit fireworks in Fata at his sweet will. It begs the question what is the difference of Q league and the current administration, is it not just faces. Rule of law’ justice and constitutionalism became a slogan and a ball in the hands of politicians and My God, they played it well.

Then came a call for a long march as mandate was being humiliated by rulers. Lawyers without meritoriously bringing ‘legal action committee’ into action to adjudicate the wisdom of Chief Justice’s visit to then under trial Zardari failed in bringing a close check on those responsible rather went ahead with the leadership of one man. Aitzaz with the slogan and style of Bhuttoos and with the aid of ‘habib jalab’s verses mesmerised most of the nation especially young dancing advocates. We thought for once, that he meant it. Negligent ignorance to leave Justice Wajeeh, Siddiqui and Fakhur uddin Ibrahim behind was spared too. Then came 14th of June when all was set and ready to rock and roll but Ali Ahmed Kurd was gone and here came a messiah of the nation who taught the lesson of pragmatism that leader of his party must have understood the underlying message of this million march. In his self belief he called it a day without taking any public statement in response to his million march, in fear of unrest without proper consultation leaving the nation in shock and lawyers in dejection. How will he ever gather 5 lakhs in future, only he knows?

On top, people were humiliated by saying that Supreme Court Bar is short of funds and there was a fear of unrest. Alas, who will tell them that Quaid made Pakistan and 40 lakh people died at that time but no one blamed him for that onslaught. How come a few scoundrels in peaceful gathering could have created havoc in this march or sit in if the lawyers were determined? Young advocates cried and genuinely lawyers mourned with them and apologised to the nation. I must say, in the past even Clerk’s association have performed better in their negotiation skills to muster their minimum demands whilst staging a protest. He caved in meagrely, called off his moot and went to United States where all leaders go once they are tired.

With him on that day the dream of rule of law, justice and constitutionalism for the time being was also washed away as it will take time to pick up pieces from the rubble of pragmatism. Constitutional package is yet to be tabled and I genuinely feel for those great judges who did what they could but in the end the issue became a shuttlecock. In these circumstances, how can we expect a successful drive of democracy when every one wishes to keep his feet in two boats keeping their options open? They are busy negotiating their future on one hand whilst shouting slogans of ‘Go Musharraf Go’ and ‘long live Iftikhar’ on the other. They consider receipt of judge’s salaries out of PM’s alimony fund as their partial success, funnily they cannot see the difference, as they see everything with their own eyes and read Jalab with their style without understanding him. I think they need to read Allama Iqbal more. Aitzaz is confronted with his own conscience his aspirations, party loyalty up are against the popular drive of restoration of 2nd November judiciary. He cannot escape from lawyer’s movement as that is his recognition but he cannot decide on 40 years association either so he himself is standing in between both. Jinnah left congress the day he knew it can’t go together. His lawyer’s move against his own party PPP is failing as his party knows how to lose one stalwart for the sake of party. But he is no different to other Pakistani folks who know that freedom will take time, and in his self belief he put all off till some other day when people will not be hungry and he will have money for food, and when General Musharraf is a little more aged. That’s why we have no independent judges as the very people who raise voice for them do not want them back due to fear of losing their jobs.

This is the sorry state of play of the drive of civic rights in Pakistan where all stake holders keenly keep an eye on each other so that no one could rock the boat. It’s a land where heroes are ruined like Qadeer Khan, where judges are detained like Iftikhar Choudhary and Premiers are hanged, shot and exiled like Bhuttoo’s and Sharifs. Protest leaders eyes are stuck in their bellies. Public for once is confused whether all this is carried out in genuine sincerity or everything is done for a job. It’s a fittest to survive society and I fear the day when public who always back popular movements turn into a pragmatic nation and never come out when they call, then where will all these lots go and who will give them a job.

Amjad Malik is a Solicitor-Advocate of the Supreme Court (England) and a political analyst based in UK


11 Comments

  • Riaz Haq |

    What a great story. Complete with interesting characters, heroes and villains, all very clearly identified without ambiguity. Good beginning and interesting middle. But where do we stand now? And where do we go from here?
    Any prediction on the ending? Will there be a knight in shining armor to rescue us all? Or a Messiah to bring us salvation? Is it going to be a happy one? or a sad one? Or the suspense continues as long as we live?

  • M@NI |

    Good Post!
    Hamid Mir, Rauf Klasra, Ansar Abbasi, Talat Hussain, Kashif Abbasi, Javaid Chaudhary and Mushtaq Minhas are really the best and brave journalists left….I am really dejected by the move of DR S.M…
    You have mentioned truely there is price for every one, especially if its pakistani … then the price is with “Must”..
    The only way 5 lakh people will ever come is … if CJ leads the rally then i can bet 1 million can be achieved but what a shame for pakistan the true chief justice of pakistan is begging for justice…

  • Sophia |

    On Feb 15th, 2003 millions marched around the world specially in Europe’s every big city to stop the beginning of War on Iraq. These millions made their point pecaefully and dispersed peacefully, nobody points fingers at the organizers for failing to stop the war and losing an opportunity to stop the war. Unfortunately, in Pakistan everytime people gather in numbers, the results have been bloody. The lawyers movement has already lost dedicated lawyers and political activists in Karachi on May 12, 2007 and April 9, 2008 and many others were shot and killed as they stood on the bus stops to reach the courts.
    Aitzaz did what was best in that situation. Please understand that it is not only Gen Musharraf that does not want CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry – the independence that he would get after reinstatement is not in the interest of Sharifs, Zardari and above all US.
    If CJ Iftikahr comes back – who will be real winners? It will be people of Pakistan and no one else. This will also open another dimension in public life in Pakistan that has never happened before either. That will be that victorious people will know how to fight and win – consistently and persistently. Do you think Pakistani establishment will let us become so strong and bold?

  • Silence |

    TO the extent of Ahsan Bhoon, you are correct but you have to look in to his background as well, may be some of you know him personally, he was a below average lawyers, drunkerd and belonged to “dalla group” (a bunch of people whose only source of survival is whisky and women).

    He was associate of Latif Khosa, who is the person whose former wife (also a lawyer) filed a case for divorce in court alledging that Latif Khosa used to force her to sleep with judges and she got divorce, you can imagine what kind of person he was or is and it was not a surprise when he sold himself, betraying Lahore Bar Association. He was elected not because of being a good lawyer or a big name but it was because of local grouping in Lahore Bar, that time he was candidate from Khosa group and unfortunately was able to secure support of another big group.

    Remember in local bar elections, groups matter more then political parties.

    Here you are comparing Ahsan Bhoon with Aitazaz Ahsan, Dr. Shahid Masood and trying toestablish that the entire movement against dictatorship was just a circus and everyone was fooling masses.

    When it comes to conclusion, you have proved you to be dishonest, people spreading awareness can never be “sellouts” and a single act do not determine the character of any leader, rather its their past and the ideology they believe in, is it that you are trying to look taller by downgrading someone else?

    If so, its sad and you have proved that you are something different from what you are posing.

    Just compare the level of awareness in masses today with a couple of years back against dictatorship, its a fruit of sacrifices of people you are accusing of cheating the nation.

    You just made yourself a minnion!

  • Altaf |

    One faulty premise of this article as most of the posts on this website is that Military Dictators are bad where as ‘democratically’ elected politicians are good – in every respect. This is a pretty childish assumptions.

    The world of politics is not so simple that it can be looked at in terms of black & white. The fact is that the mass of Pakistan’s population is far removed from politics & governance of the country. That is why Generals find it easy to stage coups & our politicians are toothless pygmies only rocking the boat enough so they can be given their share from the spoils of power. They are all beneficiaries of the system of governance in Pakistan so it is not in their interest to bring about any meaningful change.

    Musharraf was a military dictator but often he has tolerated & given more space to dissenting voices than his predecessors. Nawaz Sharif was a popularly elected leader but once in power he hardly acted like a democrat. Same goes for Bhutto. That is if we care to remember our history. So politics is not that simple like many in the media & on this blog want to portray it as – with childish notions of good & evil. Everyone of the players in this game are in for personal/institutional(the military) reasons & anyone who believes otherwise will be in for a big disappointment as has happened in the past.

    Secondly, the lawyers movement unanimously boycotted the Feb elections. Going into the elections, the PML-N was the only party that had an un-equivocal stance on the restoration of the judiciary. PPP was pretty ambiguous as it had entered into an underhand deal with Musharraf & the military establishment. And, PPP was badly assailed in the media for that. Similarly the stance of ANP was also not clear & neither did it fight the elections on this agenda. MQM was on the opposite side all along as was PML-Q.

    Given these facts, how in the world can the lawyers movement claim that the party’s in power (barring PML-N) were given a mandate for the restoration of the judiciary. Even if you allow some margin due to rigging by the former ruling parties, the majority of votes were still given to parties that were either against the restoration of CJ Iftikhar or were ambiguous in their stance.

    The fact is that most of the voting was largely on ethnic lines. PPP from Rural Sindh & Southern Punjab; MQM from Urban Sindh; PML-N from Punjab; ANP from Frontier. No clear mandate was given to any party. Sadly, we as a nation are deeply divided.

    That leaves the ‘experts’ & ‘analysts’ on TV to interpret the results of the elections anyway they feel will support their points of view.

  • Tahseen Alam Khan |

    TRUE INDEPENDENCE INSTITUTION ????????????????? where are the jobs????????????????????

  • Aflatoon |

    Teetho,

    Whatsup?

    You look tired. Your activism not working as you want?

    or just taking a break?

    Your well wisher,
    Aflatoon!

  • Tahseen Alam Khan |

    Do we belive in truth???????
    Do we have Independence????????
    Do we have Institutions?????????
    Everybody sitting at the helm of the affairs is performing a SCRIPTED Character, if somebody deviates from the Script He Or She is removed from the seen with a gun shot or any other ruthless way of elimination. Where are the Pakistanis Gone. Our Country is in its WORST times let us Contribute our part to the betterment of our Battered Motherland. PAKISTAN ZINDABAD.

  • amjad |

    Lost opportunity
    By: Amjad Malik

    18th February elections in Pakistan put politicians of opposition in a position to invoke parliamentary sovereignty, independent judiciary and civil rights hence setting their targets towards a shared goal of Pakistan as a welfare, democratic, progressive and just society. Loss of Be Nazir as well as indecisiveness of her successors in decision making have halted the whole political system and we are progressing day by day to strengthen the dying regime rather than finishing them with the power of coalition in the early days of Parliament. I thought the mandate required them to do certain action(s) within days of the inaugural session of the parliament and the kind of things they were professing in their charter of democracy were unachievable unless both liberal and conservative forces work in alignment to achieve the reversal of 17th amendment, restoring 2nd November judiciary and ending military dictatorship of 12 October and putting barricades in the way of future coup-de-tats. However to prove Paul Nitze wrong, who will bell the cat.

    Our military is not under civilian rule at any standards. India and Bangladesh learnt that lesson and brought from Major to Colonel promotions under the Civil government however, our top army elite is only responsible to the chief and chief is under the constitution answerable to the elected premier, though in reality he is all in all. In Pakistan Pentagon to GHQ relations are much closer and stronger and has a long history as compared with that of our politicians. These bilateral military relations gives the Pentagon an opportunity to meet our future commanders and they inadvertently mentor the future leaders of Pakistan and have their views known to their assessment bodies, at the same time playing the stick and carrot approach with our politicians who are always under cloud of accountability for their mal administration as Paul Henry Nitze professed to deal with military in the longer run, and play with politicians with carrot and stick with accountability always hanging on their heads. This nexus which is running fine for US as well as Pakistan cannot easily be broken unless our political clan understands it fully, ready to work for the country and in a coalition for a longer time taking the top army leadership in a confidence. It entails many dangers too. The fate of two Bhutto’s, Liaqat Ali Khan and Nawaz Sharif is in front of all. At this very moment, as it appears they are not ready for it.

    Pakistan was made for high morals, on bigger claims and ensure self respect, dignity and identity, we are running short of all despite the fact that it has a potential to rise individually though not collectively yet. Democracy could not fit or survive in a society where mind set is ripe for mental dictatorship. Political classes made General Ayub part of cabinet in his uniform despite the warning given by its founder Mr. Jinnah about the aspiring General and neglected the mandate given in 1971, thus losing one limb along with it all chances of democracy. Pakistani elite establishment are never ready to accept the verdict of people. Adjudication on merit and justice is extinct in a society where 4 Prime Ministers are out of scene without any trial of facts. Lack of political infrastructure and respect for political classes where Police is corrupt, judges blindly follow orders and military foot prints every where is the root cause of lack of institutional strength in the 60 years old country. Political parties never could regroup, and if they ever do by luck, they lose their leaders, thus making bigger parties leaderless or confined to its strong holds. It has truly become an experiment ground at the hands of a clan who knows no boundaries and has limitless authority. Dictators pitch the story that they always came to save the country and always returned halving the remaining part, and the country as a nation could never learnt from their mistakes identified in Hamood ur Rehman commission, in fact we close our eyes on incidents like 12th of May, Benazir’s death, sacking of Judges on 3rd November, and attacks on Pakistani post in tribal areas where scores were killed and we deny the reality as if it never happened.

    We are part of a war on terror in which other states are contributing too. Turkey refused 35 billion package and preferred to deal with the issue through Parliament as they concluded that they could not decide an issue which has far reaching repercussions for the generations. Bangladeshis intelligently got all their debts wiped off in exchange of their support for this new ideology and their 2008 budget is in surplus as compared with Pakistan which is trailing in around 10 billion. Our supreme leader in dream of pouring dollars caved in meagrely and offered ‘unstinted support’ for a drive which has a fatal consequences for us in years to come like a nightmare. Our politicians cried out loud from exile and prisons that they will work closely to make parliament sovereign and so far the most controversial and highly sensitive matters have yet to see the Parliament, though army chief has been armed with the power to call shots without a debate in Parliament. The power which rests with the Prime Minister.

    This uncertainty is the asset of the ruling government which will be their charge sheet when someone sacks them. Their negligent quietness on national matters will cost the drive for rule of law big time and longer military regimes will be our destiny for which this time people may not be blamed as they came when called, and voted whenever asked, as opposed to our politicians as a class failed as they joined the military dictators when it suits them, passed 17th amendment, got Generals elected for presidential post in uniform, and they will do it again to prove Pau Nitze right about Pakistan. The nation will have to work heart and soul, all institutions, all political forces including armed forces and only drive for rule of law and constitutionalism is anti dote of Paul Henry Nitze’s theory on Pakistan. The historic event of 9th of March 2007 is potentially a turning point in the country’s short history – Pakistan’s leaders are now at a crossroads. The Pakistani society on the whole including lawyers, judges, civil society and media have a very important role to play to return Pakistan a country akin to a ‘dream come true’ to a democracy where the rule of law, rather than military rule, holds sway and for that we need a collective effort, political will and unified approach coupled with result oriented efforts in good with, as it stands, yet again we have lost a big opportunity. The question in every one’s minds is we truly ready to prove Paul Henry Nitze wrong once for all about Pakistan.

    Amjad Malik is a Solicitor-Advocate of the Supreme Court (England) and a political analyst based in UK

    14 July 2008

  • Riaz Haq |

    Military clearly deserves a lot of the blame for the current mess we are in. So do the major political parties and the incompetent and corrupt politicians who come mainly from the feudal zamindar class not particularly interested in establishing rule of law or social equity in Pakistan. Let’s try and answer this basic question honestly and truthfully: If the Pakistani military were to magically disappear for a decade or more, would our politicians get their act together to create a functioning democracy with strong institutions?