By Samad Khurram and Aqil Sajjad
PPP sympathisers complain about the mysterious “Establishment” and their alleged role in destroying democracy in Pakistan for decades now. The Establishment, as defined by them, is a collection of dark, mystifying hands that apparently have many vested interests in upholding the status quo. This inexplicable group comprises rich army officers, the intelligence agencies and foreign hands who scheme together for their own economic and geo-strategic interests. To support this argument, examples of the Mullah-Military Alliance from the 1980s are repeated. The Establishment supposedly destroys institutions, murders politicians, blackmails judges and leaders, and sustains the Military Inc.
One major threat to the Establishment’s hold would be an independent judiciary – a judiciary that will not bow down to pressure, sticks or carrots. Historically, many verdicts of our courts were not independent but extorted by threats and intimidation. Judges had regularly fallen victim to blackmail and “sex tapes” and received dictations from the Establishment. Judges who were bold enough not to obey the whims of the Establishment were conveniently removed.
Things changed considerably when Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry took charge and reoriented the judiciary’s direction in favour of the people. He was becoming increasingly independent and was beginning to check the excesses of the establishment. Among the most noted examples in this regard were the attempted loot privatisation of the Steel Mills well below their real worth and the case of the missing people illegally abducted and detained by the intelligence agencies.
As he became a growing threat to the Establishment, Iftikhar Chaudhry was summoned to General Musharraf’s camp office in the presence of serving military officers and the infamous Brig (r) Ejaz Shah on March 9, 2007. When he refused to resign, the nation stood up in his defence. This was unprecedented in the history of Pakistan and soon Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry became a national hero, arguably the most popular Pakistani alive today.
After his reinstatement with the support of lawyers, students and civil society the judiciary was able to exercise its powers with increasing independence. Naturally, the Establishment could not allow such a judiciary to flourish, as their dirty games could now be brought to justice before an independent tribunal.
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