Guest Blog by Zermeen Amira
I have to admit I started the day on a fairly jubilant note having woken up after receiving an SMS from an overseas friend that the Chief has been restored (I had gone to bed by mid night having watched the political drama incessantly for the past few days and as a result getting reprimanded by my spouse). Today back to work, I have had enough of sweets to put on a few pounds in the next few days as it all metabolizes. As evening has progressed and the adrenaline rush has subsided I have started to ponder the events of the last 24 hours and all doesn’t seem to add up. Perhaps the merry making and jubilation is premature.
I am cautiously optimistic that all will be all right. However, it is still five days before the Chief is actually restored and that is an eternity in politics. Anything still can happen given that President Zardari still hasn’t been seen in public yet. Is he still wincing like a wounded dragon plotting his next move or has the remorse finally taken the better of his bare knuckled political instincts. No one knows. The news that has started filtering out in the evening of the 16th is not that great. Here is some text directly from TV channel ticker tape.
We are still yet to see the notification document and already there are fissures appearing between PM and the PresidentSignificant differences remain between PM and president on the text of Notification to restore Chief Justice.
Mr. Shahbaz Sharif has said that it would have been good to see the notification today.
We would like to not remove any of the sitting judges – Mr. Kaira (read tens of Jiyala judges appointed by President Zardari).
A day earlier Shahbaz Sharif zipped through on the motorway reaching Rawalpindi without getting nabbed by the police? How come? Was a deal not known to us even today already in the works even before the long march started?
We are still yet to see the notification document and already there are fissures appearing between PM and the President on the exact wording of the notification. Will it be a full restoration of Judiciary to Nov. 2 position or would it simply be that Justice Iftikhar will be sworn in as a new Chief Justice post the retirement of the current one, Justice Dogar. The difference in semantics could be hugely significant. Under the first arrangement scores of new judges appointed within the last one month by Mr. Zardari would need to be reconsidered since the legal Chief Justice all along was not consulted with (that would be Justice Iftikhar if he gets restored to Nov. 2 position). However in the second case the new judges will continue like Mr. Kaira has suggested. Is that significant? Hugely. Why? Assuming the average age of a newly appointed judge is 52 years, he/she would serve for 10 years on the high court and possibly eventually on Supreme Court bench (where retirement age is 65). For an incompetent judge who doesn’t belong on the bench, only one judge can be hugely detrimental to the rule of law in this country let alone 20 or 30 of them spread across all the high courts in the country some of whom could become chief justices of High Courts and of Supreme Court in due course of time!
Now here is the hard question for Mr. Aitezaz and Mr. Kurd first and Sharif brothers second?
Was the long march terminated in haste? Having been hoodwinked for three times, wouldn’t a smart politician have kept the pressure on till the situation was publicly resolved. We are left with ambiguous statements from the likes of Kaira that no sitting justice would be removed. Shouldn’t Shairfs and more importantly Aitezaz, Kurd and company have demanded to see a copy of the notification and possibly shared it with the media? After all notification, historically speaking, are not voluminous documents that can’t be produced in a matter of hours. If it was going to take some time perhaps the historic long march could have continued while the text of this document was finalized (it would have certainly taken another 10 hours for the long march to reach Rawalpindi). That is what I would have done having been bitten thrice by the President of this Islamic Republic.
And let’s assume some interesting behind the scene face saving deal had indeed taken place between PML-N and PPP, shouldn’t the Aitezaz, Kurd and company have insisted on marching on all the way to Islamabad albeit with much smaller strength. Remember they were as effective on Constitution Avenue with small numbers as they were when augmented by political party workers much later. If Sharifs have been bitten a fourth time, the like of Aitezaz and Kurd ought to have done better. They are sophisticated enough to know what can possibly happen. Unless they are part of the deal unknown to us!
Of course the thousand rupees question is that perhaps the whole arrangement for the next few weeks has been scripted and guaranteed with the involvement of the boots in GHQ. Let’s hope that this arrangement is in line with what the civil society and the lawyer’s movement wants. I hope for the best but the skeptic within me thinks that the jubilation and merriment may be premature in the absence of the notification document and its official interpretation by the law ministry.
I nightmarishly recall the words of Malcolm X (from the movie Malcolm X), you have been hoodwinked, you have been had, you have been took, you have been led astray, led amok. You have been bamboozled.
I wish not. I wish all of what I suspect above passes by as a nightmare and I wake up to a new dawn in the history of this nation on the morning of the 21st and more importantly the morning of 23rd ushers us into a new era as a proud and just nation.
I passed by the Qaddafi stadium chowk a few times today taking care of office chores. The daughter of Governor of Punjab has opened up an art gallery at one corner of this chowk. All day long, a police car has been parked outside this gallery ostensibly to protect it. At exactly 180 degrees, on the other side of the chowk, valiant ‘police wallas’ have been busy for the past few hours harassing motor cycle riders getting ‘bahkshish’. I see them frisking ordinary citizens and feel appalled. I see one motorcycle where a 5 year old is still on it while the father is standing on the road arguing with a police constable. So the ‘awam’ are still getting looted less than a day after one of the biggest victory by the people. Ironically this place is a hundred meter from Liberty chowk where ‘awam’ still comes to pay its respect to the fallen ‘jawans’ of police who were protecting the Sri Lankan team. Such is the contrast in this country. After all the fallen ones may be in heaven but the ones who remain behind have mouths to feed by looting their fellow citizens. They never stop anyone in a four wheeler especially the ones like me who drive a relatively new car. It seems terrorists only ride motor bikes!
So my dear civil society and all others: if you think the war has been won, you just conquered a small fort with a long way to go before the status quo will surrender itself in its entirety. Celebrate no more, get to work. A lot more needs to be done.