The movement is here to stay

Shorter version of this appeared in The News on October 30th, 2008.

Victory of Ali Ahmed Kurd as President of Supreme Court Bar Association is a historic milestone in the history of Pakistan and the history of the Lawyers’ movement for rule of law and accountability of the country. This is not just a victory for Ali Ahmed Kurd but for all Pakistanis who are still actively involved in the restoration of the judiciary to Nov 2nd position. These include journalists, students, traders, political party workers, doctors, businessmen and other members of the civil society. This is a triumph for all those who had given their lives to the cause on 12th May, 9th April and in the various attacks either on lawyers’ gatherings. In particular this is a victory for the late soul of Advocate Imdad Ali Awan who passed away while driving the Chief Justice’s car in Karachi. Even with so many sacrifices and being stretched to 18 months, the movement is alive and popular support thriving.

The landslide victory is important for many reasons. Before the elections all anti-movement forces had joined hands to interfere with the election process notwithstanding their past hostility. Musharraf’s Attorney General, Malik Qayyum, was given a standing ovation by PPP sponsored People’s Lawyers Forum. Ironically this is the same Malik Qayyum whose father had ordered Bhutto’s hanging. Qayyum had been taped colluding with a former Prime Minister to fix punishment for Benazir Bhutto and Zardari. As Musharraf’s AG, Qayyum had constantly been engaged in trying to convict Zardari and Benazir for many years. Just before the elections Qayyum’s tape was released by Human Rights Watch where he confirmed to a friend that there would be rigging in the Feb 18th Elections. These are just some of the anti-PPP activities Malik Qayyum has been engaged in the past many years. Yet when the time came to solicit votes, the PLF solicited even their worst enemies.

In the buildup of the elections the Khosa-Naek-Qayyum group had been actively engaged in compelling lawyers with sticks and carrots to vote for their candidate. Money poured from the Law Ministry to Pakistan Bar Council and its sympathizers to help them buy voters and manipulate the elections. There were many functions in this regard held in Karachi, Islamabad and particularly in Lahore where voters were fine dined, promised lucrative government jobs and services for their votes and also threatened with dire consequences if they voted otherwise. News reports have confirmed that Farooq Naek spent weekends at Abdul Hameed Dogar’s and other de facto judges’ residences to plead for votes for the PLF candidate. These and many other of their undemocratic activities have been exposed before the people of Pakistan.

Yet when the time came to vote an overwhelming majority of lawyers refused to be swayed from their determination and cause. This is only a reflection of a vast majority of Pakistanis -86 % according to an IRI survey – who want the Supreme Court back to its Nov 2nd position. While our ill informed politicians may claim its not an issue of the people, polls show otherwise. 83 % of Pakistanis from across the country believe this is an issue that is important to them and are severely offended when the politicians they elected refuse to take it up. The issue is still alive in the hearts and minds of the people and is here to stay.

Why has this been so? What makes Pakistanis so loyal to this movement when it has neither had funding from any agency nor will it bring out immediate personal gains for the participants? Why have people remained actively involved in it for 18 months now and against all forms of opposition? Pakistanis understand the importance of rule of law and economic growth which as an academically proven and time tested link. In the Economist of May 13th, Daniel Kaufmann, head of the World Bank’s World Governance Institute, analyzes many studies which compare GDP per person and the rule of law. He finds that the better a government upholds the rule of law, the more likely its people are to be richer. Countless other studies have not only established this link but also have mentioned it as a fundamental precondition for economic growth.

For average Pakistanis, however, it is experience more than scholarly research � both democratic and authoritarian regimes have been marred by rampant corruption, nepotism, extra-judicial murders and bending of rules to favor who is in power. On 3rd of November, patriotic citizens of this country stood up to put an end to all this once and for all. To date their struggle has mustered many achievements. It is the movement that forced Musharraf to accept that arbitrary exile of the political leadership was unconstitutional; the movement which led to the election win for the opposition; and the movement which led to resignation of Musharraf. The pressure sustained by the movement also forced the government to restore some of the judges. While the manner adopted by the government was deplorable, it goes without saying that this is the first time in the history of Pakistan that judges have been reinstated after they refused to take oath under a PCO. These achievements do not distract the supporters of the movement who understand that the restoration of the judiciary to Nov 2nd position is an uncompromisable precondition for establishing rule of law and independence of the judiciary in this country.

When a lawyer of the All India Muslim League raised the cry for Pakistan in 1940, Muslims of the region responded with thunderous support. Seven years later Jinnah had achieved the impossible. It is only fitting that six decades later the struggle to take back Pakistan is spearheaded by the people who share the same profession of Jinnah and the same love for the country and its people.

The movement is here to stay. Have no doubts about it.



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9 responses to “The movement is here to stay”

  1. guYasir Avatar

    The movement got politicize by two bigwig parties both used it like a tissue paper esp AZ&co.
    total fiasco in each sector, throw this dirty AZ & NZ and their party from pak but they came back and ch bastard himself brought ’em back and took messed with Mush which cost him very badly and he got failed to restore by backing these two Kleptocrats parties.

  2. yaseen ch Avatar

    yes, kurd has to do something big.

  3. Hassan Abbas Avatar
    Hassan Abbas

    There is no doubt that the will of the people has been subverted by Zardari.There is also no doubt in my mind that the PPP has lost the mandate of the people which it secured by duping the people of Pakistan about it’s agenda.

    Zardari and Co are more Musharaaf like then even Musharaaf in the national policies they are following.With the added distinction that they have failed to be paid even one quarter of what Musharaaf was paid for his services to the same masters.

    Despite the loud apparently differing noises being made by the Nawaz Sharif crowd;the people of Pakistan now understand that they too will behave no differently if they come to power -this is obvious from their silence in the present context under the guise of not weakening democratic force ;whereas the actual reason is their reluctance at criticizing pro-American policies of Zardari for fear of American backlash against PML(N).This is one reason why the people are silent and do not rise against PPP policies. They see no alternative.

    With out the restoration of national freedom and dignity through the restoration of Ch Iftikhar as CJ, the people’s movement for the removal of dictatorsip stands sabotaged by the Peoples Party of Pakistan. Yet as this bar election clearly proves it is powerless to stop the will of a really determined people.

    Is it too much to hope that the lawyers and the responsible members of the civil society, as well as political parties, who have stayed out of the present auction mart organized by the Americans, will provide a political platform for forcing a change. We must elect the right type of people; ones who can restore our dignity, institutions and enterprise-through a complete renaissance of our values.

    To complete its tenure is not the political right of any government; PPP has lost the nations confidence as the figures you quote clearly show -it must be made to go. In fact the time has come to force both these two cronies presently indulging in a nura kushti to sit on the sidelines in both the provincial and national Assemblies.

  4. dr.jawwadkhan Avatar

    inspite of rise and fall, we love this movement.
    one of the greatest achivements is that,the lowdowns of pakistani politics have been debunked.
    peoples of pakistan showed their collective wisdom by backing this movement.
    we gained some respect in the world.
    first time in pakistan people say no to a dictator
    first time in pakistan history a sitting cj said no to a militory dictator.
    long live cj , long live lawyers movement, long live pakistan.

  5. Rafay Kashmiri Avatar
    Rafay Kashmiri

    @ you really need four trained Pak Police jiyallas
    to pick up and carry 55 kg worth Ali Kurd,

    your impotence was never so low as it is today.
    dear Justice Minister.

  6. Le Mystique Avatar

    No doubt it is here to stay. Kudos to Kurd & Co.
    I hope the movement not only stays but grows to become a catalyst for a large-scale, real and sustainable change.

  7. LogicalMani Avatar

    Chore doo yaar in ko these all r corrupt

  8. LogicalMani Avatar

    Aitzaaad Hassan basically started that corruption and after that Geo Promotes it.I think they are agent of America for destablization of pakistan.

  9. LogicalMani Avatar

    Who Said that Kurd has 55 KG Wait he has just 2.5 KG or max 3 KG.