Guest blog by Abira Ashfaq via her Note on Facebook
I just returned from a wedding and I got an icky feeling about the lawyer leaders. I saw some there. I caught a glimpse of Aitzaz, but before I could get my glamor shot with him, he had shot off to another function. I support the movement and its leadership. I support the support they got from the roots, and the movement’s progressive thrust. But there is an ickiness, and I know these leaders aren’t the radical, or even the clean hearted hippies I wish them to be. In fact some of them have only recently reignited that radical spark form the students’ movement of the 60s after years of real estate work. Some of them have vested interests. But I already knew that, and its not naivety that you accept flawed individuals, but pragmatism that you suspend your judgment as they invigorate a movement — as leaders. And learn. Hence, CJ as a symbol, as a trigger, as a mascot, as an illustration of resistance is fine – an impeccable judge or fashion model he may not be – but I’ll take the missing persons cases and applaud him anyway.
So I reserve my judgment, and hope that institutional changes are made, and the good decisions keep us afloat. The movement won, and the people are happy. But not really.
The judges were restored, but there is a constitutional problem that’ll make your head spin. As a friend in the movement tells me, there are 4 categories of possibly illegal judges – the level of their illegality depends on when the took the jinxed oath. 1) those who were judges on Nov 2 and accepted the PCO on Nov 3; 2) the new appointees under Mush; 3) the new appointees under Zardari; 4)those amongst the 43 judges of the Nov 2 who held out for months, and then when the movement waned, they took a cynical fresh oath.
What will happen to these judges? Should some be hanged for treason under Article 6 for attempting to abrogate the constitution? Should they be asked to resign?
Roll back in time and even the esteemed CJ helped a dictator. How much do you roll back? Where do we start and stop to gain actual constitutional purity and somewhat of a separation of powers? Start with Nov 3 and kick out all the new judges? What about category 4? Category 4 is particularly troubling. Why would someone give in after supporting the movement for so long? What finagling, wheeling and dealing went on to make them give up? And why didn’t some of the other judges give in? Was it their morality, their savings, their compulsions, their principles, or the offers? How about transparency?
We met Judge Maqbool Baqar. He was depressed, and almost wanted civil society to give him a reason to believe. But he wasn’t’ signing up for a fresh oath. He was about to relinquish all chances of a cushy, prestigious judge job. What made him not take a fresh oath just like his colleague Mushir Alam and the various other judges from Lahore and Peshawar?
I don’t know. But they deserve special honor.
The questions may continue. But right now the mood and fervor is such that some people believe much is about to change with our legal system. People who’ve come back from the long march with stories of the storming of the Lahore High Court still haven’t gotten the tear gas out of their system – some still haven’t found the blood to ink their words with. But something has shifted. This movement has moved our society to a new intellectual plane where “rights” talk is going to lead to rights work.
Lets not blow our chances. Lets get down to building the institutions bottom up – fix the courts, lobby to change anti people laws, get the fundamental freedoms up and running – challenge illegals wars ad detentions.
And all that.
And most importantly the movement must become democratic from within. Yes we have Kurd, the brave leader who is a working class hero lawyer, but the women and the non elite lawyers must work to democratize the movement’s leadership, and impact change.
I am only partially anywhere these days, and only partially aware. To be quite honest I have abandoned a dozen books these last few months – exploding mangoes with only 30 pages to go, Kiran Desai ’cause she sucked, and now I can’t get past the English in Amitav Ghosh’s poppies. So hell, I am no expert on the constitution and this movement’s wins, and I only get through a Faisal Siddiqui article after three tries.
I just thought I’d get a note in this March madness. Rock on! Lawyers kicked ass. Boots back to the barracks. To hell with Zardari.
Whats this I hear about Aitzaz leaving the leadership?