Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Welcome back! People's Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry

I wrote this post sitting on a Train heading towards London. Sun is shining and sky is bright bringing hope for a beautiful day – the way it has been for Pakistan since yesterday since the government finally decided to cave in to pressure from the civil society and bring back one person who for over two years have come to symbolise hope in Pakistan – Iftikhar Chaudhry, deposed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan – now People’s Chief Justice.

CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry carries a heavy burden on his shoulders – burden of hopes of a nation that is: scarred by rape of its democratic and human rights by military dictators; pillaged by religious fanatics born out of US sponsored holy war against Russia in Afghanistan who were then raised and nurtured by another military dictator in Pakistan seeking moral and political legitimacy; and let down by the heirs to a democratic legacy - the current government of Pakistan.

His return should be credited to the long struggle undertaken by civil society, the lawyers movement and the Media who took the brunt of civilian dictatorship in the making. But it should also not be forgotten that the political ineptness of the current government, that resulted in the political chaos in Punjab and in return pushing the second biggest political party in Pakistan to throw its political might and street muscle behind the Lawyers, is to be credited for this success.

For a change I would like to give credit to the current army leadership as well who despite a golden opportunity handed over to them by the circumstances created by the politicians not only abstained from political adventurism but used its muscle to bring the political stalemate to an end. Last two weeks proved that, unlike popular perception, simply instructions from our lords and masters in Washington DC are not enough to bring the political elite in Pakistan to their senses. Helpful cajoling from the military brass did the trick – not a day of pride for political institutions.

CJ Chaudhry is no Messiah who will return on 21st March 2009 and will solve all the nation’s problems overnight. But he surely can begin the long process of healing the sore of “might is right” that has festered in our society for the last sixty years of our existence. Through the strength of his character, he has shown that one man can take a principled stand against the might of a military (or civilian) dictatorship.

He will need to draw deeper on the power of his beliefs to fulfil the task that lies ahead of him – that is to bring respect and dignity back to a judiciary dealing with an identity crisis by beginning a clean up of the rot that it has brought upon itself by being the creator of “doctrine of necessity” to support “might is right”. He has been elevated to be a symbol of integrity and “what could be” of our judicial system. His immediate task is to work towards making sure that only honest and competent wear the robe that delivers justice, and those with vice and incompetence are never able to enter the august ranks of judiciary. There are those in superior judiciary whose name is tainted by allegations of high level links with criminals and mafia – those should be investigated and kicked out or their names cleared.

And there is the matter of National Reconciliation Ordinance and blanket indemnity enjoyed by past and current rulers. If they were innocent there name should be cleared through a swift and thorough judicial process or they be tried and punished through due process.

Finally, he will have to be cautious as there are pitfalls waiting and those who would like see him fall and fail.

1 comment:

  1. i heard justice was blind, this is taking it too far, justice is now blind , dumb and deaf. but certainly not for his own family, there he is ignorant, biased, untruthful and down right egotistical. WE went on the roads for him, now we would like to show him the road