Long term military dictatorships, shorter civilian rules, where accountability of politicians takes place on the name of corruption with the nexus of judges with civil & military establishment, is the destiny of Pakistan’. Thanks to our rulers as this notion is well supported by their inefficiencies. People came whenever the true leadership called. They came in 1947 on Quaid’s call. They came for Bhuttoo senior. They came for Be Nazir when she landed at Lahore from exile. In near history they came for Chief Justice when he said ‘no’ to Gen. Musharraf. They again came on 18 Feb on joint call of political parties and rejected the dictator. Finally they came on the call of Sharif’s when Zardari was adamant that justice is no more desired under Iftikhar Chowdhary. On 16 March 08, they came like a flood and made an impression, so we can never under estimate the people’s power.
18 February 2008 election of change could not be translated in its true sense as PPP preferred to hold on to government of up to 2 years than a full scale democratic practice. ‘charter of democracy’ was compromised to feed the empty bellies of the workers who had been shouting slogans of ‘change’ for last 12 years. First 6 months of PPP reign was crucial where establishment was divided, but a little chance given to them and they tear both top political leaders apart and the rest is history. First President Zardari lost sanctity of his words on ‘Chief Judge’ and ‘COD’ and later drowned the dream of democracy by imposing governor rule and disqualifying the ‘N’ leadership. The rest is all a damage control exercise. Who is to be blamed for the failure of inept politicians who never are trained to take the reign of Pakistan post 1971 lost war as sovereignty of the state has been assumed by the troika as mentioned above. President Zardari though retained power, but despite taking the PPP to the heights it could never imagine, has damaged the party to an extent which was a dream for the military led establishment. He saw the PPP ship sinking whilst sitting on the chair of head of state.
Government is facing enormous difficulties on all fronts. Though Prime Minister if powerful can pave way for ‘reconciliation’ but it will not suit to his leadership. Presidential slot is compromised by retention of party position and despite willingness; Pakistani head of state cannot see the nation with one eye. Nawaz Sharif too is sidelined on the alleged promise that if he does not protest on the next onslaught ‘he could be next.’ Hundreds of unmeritorious appointments, lack of electricity, protests on petrol prices and drones and letters to chief justice from the left right and centre is indicative of a feared ‘judicial coup’ to some forecaster critics as the system seems to be a hostage to a judicial decision which can come any day. That decision whether by dismissing ‘NRO’ or reversing ‘3rd November 2007 mini martial law’ will pave way for a short term rule of nightmares for political animals. In that regime, where if not asked to return looted money, they will at least be probed and will be thrown out of the ring and only fittest will survive. Judiciary will be used on the name of bringing stability, true democracy, accountability, and will be wrongly portrayed as a ‘messiah’ which is long awaited. General Zia, General Musharraf had the same ideology when they were asked to jump in on the name of ‘best interest of the state’. But this time they are betting on a different guy altogether.
I am afraid, to me, political matters are best dealt with on political chess board. Pakistan which is suffering badly needs a healing touch. People do need justice but justice is best served if judges remain judges. It is unfortunate mystery that in Pakistan people do not wish to do the job they are expert in, so do apply to our government officers judicial or otherwise. Army has ruled Pakistan for over 4 decades, though they have recovered their image due to recent operation in Swat as a result of which bodies of martyrs are wiping their sins committed in last 9 years under Musharraf but still Pakistan needs to respect the sanctity of ‘one man one vote’ principle on which this country was made. Judiciary can assist to separate the chaff from grain but cannot be an alternate force to that of Parliament.
Politicians must stop invoking ‘judicial machinery’ in their petty political matters. If they cannot jointly scrap 17th amendment, bring back constitution to original form, cannot stop drones, cannot implement ‘COD’ or even cannot reduce petrol, diesel, electricity prices, then they must accept their failure as representatives of their parties and in return the nation. But what they must not do is not to send everyone to Supreme Court as it’s not their function to cut petrol prices, check housing rates or stop out of control traffic. That is the job of executive and must remain with the executive. Judiciary is in the early stages of their institutional building. I am afraid people wishes to divert its attention towards ‘Bangladesh model’ which may keep the status quo intact but progress may not be guaranteed. Pakistan badly needs institution building, and Parliament too needs support and if it is strong, will promote federation and can solve half of the country’s problems. But who listens. So we are left with, ‘Long term military dictatorships, shorter civilian rules, where accountability of politicians takes place on the name of corruption with the nexus of judges with civil & military establishment’. So much so for the democratic struggle of Pakistan, with apologies to the brave lay men and women of great character of this country of 170 millions.
Amjad Malik is a Solicitor-Advocate of the Supreme Court of England & Wales and a chair of Association of Pakistani Lawyers (UK)