Guest Blog by Amjad Malik
On 28 March 2008, when Chief Justice Chowdhary visited Mr. Zardari to pay condolences over the death of Be Nazir Bhuttoo, the writer wrote as following, “It’s an ill advice of half lawyer half politician leaders who sometimes are trapped in between party loyalty and the cause of independence of judiciary and forget that judge’s reinstatement is not an issue at all, the issue is their complete autonomy and independence. With this speed the way things are developing, we may get the jobs of those judges back but the process may affect the capacity of top judge to dispense justice on equality basis”.
The writer in his thesis recommended to form a committee and wrote, “People of Pakistan did not lay their lives to see a judge visiting the rulers which may seem an exercise to clear reservations or settle terms in order to seek his job back, its vice versa people want the rulers to come at the door step of the top judge who must be acknowledged for his steadfastness, bold stand and bravery and masses do not want the reinstatement of justice Choudhary, if it is not with full pride and honour, but they want to see the restoration of the prestige of the office of the chief justice who was detained with family, ill treated, and mal handled by state functionaries and law enforcement segments. It will be quite in the interest of ruling party to take the lawyers struggle down by slowly defusing the popular slogan of reinstatement and or bending the top man, however with wisdom, consultation and pride these tactics can be defused and jurist committee is a step towards right direction”. Though my writing went beyond notice and we had a long march without results. On the fall of long March 08, the writer on 16 June expressed his views and wrote in his column that, “ Lawyers are different from others only because they consult, take advice from seniors and agree to disagree on all major issues of principle. It also gives a lesson that with fiery speeches you may get applause but judiciary does not get independence. It requires sheer political will, joint collaboration and consultation in the national interest, wisdom and sacrifice which is pre requisite to translate this dream into a reality. May be consultation is the key which needs to be mastered in coming days by lawyers”.
The writer criticised the leader on 2 July 2008 in his column in the following terms, “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”.
However to my dismay, on 26 January 2009 lawyers have decided to go for long March on 9th of March and they have decided this time to stage a ‘sit in ‘ until the top judge is restored with his remaining colleagues. Barrister Aitzaz rightly expressed his political interest but offered to resign from the chair of ‘National Coordination Committee’ however refused to leave the ruling party executive committee membership keeping his options open. I must say that a true Muslim is not bitten twice from the same hole, and here lawyers struggle is bitten on the whole sale basis from the same hole without a scrutiny. What we conclude from this is whether lawyer leadership either is weary of its weakness and is putting up with this conflict or they know that they cannot perform the task without involving conflicting elements and cannot see through the wall when it allows a possibility of a conflict of interest to creep in its ranks without a check, which in return have the potential to derail the whole march process. PPP stalwart will never allow a moot to overturn its govt, thus the leadership of lawyers struggle is an anti dotes of revolution for rule of law and justice. I must say Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan individually is a fine artist, a great orator and an excellent advocate, but if he himself is not willing to see the conflict hindering the final decision making then we may agree to his entitlement for freedom of choice though cheaply, but then, he is best suited to lead the legal team which is fighting in courts for chief justice, not the NCC. However lawyer leadership must consider as to the best approach before the set deadline of 9th of March 2009, as they do not afford the inconclusive march this time. I am greatly missing the absence of Justice Wajeeh uddin Ahmed, Fakhir uddin G Ibrahim and Saeed uz Zaman Siddiqui who must be kept involved along with other judges at all times in lawyers moot. Lawyers must stage a long march but I must say, their negotiation team consisting of top elected lawyers and retired judges must be ready to muster their minimum & maximum demands whilst staging a protest, as prolonged sit in may not be fruitful but may prove disastrous
I wrote about Justice Iftikhar on 21 October 2008, “Addressing to Iftikhar Chowdhary, I can only say a few words, that you did your best. You are an ‘Iftikhar’ for us and hats off to your team who lighted a candle of Justice and rule of Law. But Pakistan is not ready yet for transparency, good governance and rule of law. You will soon hear that the sale of very steel mill you stopped considering an asset, will be given in a ‘buy one, get one free’ deal to the one who loan these beggars as IMF when comes in any compound does not go empty handed. You suffered the summers, and winters in confinement for us, but we are though ready in mind for justice but are reluctant to relive the Zardari’s of our country from their duties considering ‘what will Be Nazir think of us.’ Though they never think if they do not restore the Chief Justice, what will she think of them. Forgive us Iftikhar Mohammad Chowdhary, you may be a pride of the nation, a prize for the unprivileged, but you still are a nightmare for our corrupt elite, unbridled police and bureaucracy”.
As the lawyer leadership is up against a popular party, their teams must negotiate with the political forces to promote the internal change in parliament and pave way for the force who can best deliver their promise on judiciary. Ruling party will be best served if this march fails and all forces will try to either let the ruling party win, or turn the tables on this very system. Loosing this chance is not an option, as we may end up against another dictator where we will have to wait for years to see the light in the end of the tunnel as Dogars of today are ready to pass judgements like Iqbal Tikkka Khan any day, any time. I can only say to lawyers ‘God speed and best of luck’, but as I said when the leadership has structural flaws, then it will be insanity to expect hundred percent results and lawyers top brass failed to learn from the mistakes. This long march will either bring victory or utter defeat and as a fellow lawyer, I have many reservation(s) over the projected results from his leadership, as once bitten twice shy.
Amjad Malik is a Solicitor-Advocate of the Supreme Court (England) and a Chair of Association of Pakistani lawyers in UK