Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Finally, A Voice Of Sanity

This is the most sensible piece I've read on the whole judiciary issue in a long time. It thankfully attempts to dispel the highly mistaken supposition that Nawaz Sharif is invested in the Iftikhar Chaudhry judiciary for "principles". Furthermore, it reminds us that a truly independent judiciary wouldn't have gone along with Mush's first PCO, back when it wasn't convenient to hate Musharraf. And it offers a pretty reasonable way out: a completely new judiciary, picked by a parliamentary committee; Nawaz swallowing the bitter pill of a Musharraf presidency; and Musharraf swallowing the bitter pill of being nothing more than a figurehead.
The second key player fomenting the present crisis is no other than the PML-N leader Mian Nawaz Sharif who has been flying high after winning a major chunk of vote bank, particularly in the Punjab. He is sticking to one-point agenda of restoration of judges as if democracy is hanging down to the robes of the chief justice and without him there, it will fall.

The high moral ground on which he is perched may have its edifice raised on personal motives. Mian Nawaz Sharif may be hoping that a fiercely anti-President judiciary is a pre-requisite to his rule as coalition partner. There have been broad indicators to such a latent scheme of things. Despite publicly denouncing that he has buried the hatchet, he is not ready to shake hands with his nemesis, the President as Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani once remarked. It seems as if his political interests coincide with team of judges led by Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.

It goes without saying that if they are restored, they would be too glad to take up cudgels against the person who had removed them. As far as their heroic act of not signing the second provincial constitutional order (PCO-II) is concerned, they can't claim to have perform a great feat. After all, the judges had earlier toed the line of the dictator by signing PCO-I. Realistically speaking, only those judges can be respected as heroes who didn't sign the first PCO-I.

Mian Nawaz Sharif, remaining consistent to his commitment, staged a walkout of the federal cabinet but he continues to shore up the coalition partner in the hope of pushing Mr Zardari to ditch the President. This smells sheer politics. Mr Sharif and his party are neither in the government nor in the opposition, trying to make the best of the both worlds.


The PML, which has always been a pro-establishment party, has become a populist party and the PPP, which remained anti-establishment in spirit and character, is cozy with the establishment for a change. At long last, the PPP leadership has realized the bitter truth that it needs the backing of the establishment to rule over Pakistan and do something for the hard-pressed classes of society which has been its main stay.

Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry owes his popular backing to Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan who discovered the power of the black coats in the recent crisis. Mr Ahsan wants Pakistan to traverse from dictatorial and semi-dictatorial rule to a pure and true democracy within a span of eight months for which the British took eight centuries to reach (after the signing of Magna Charta in 1215). Pakistan has long been suffering from one judicial crisis after another only because no government ever laid the institutional foundations of judiciary. Judges have always been appointed by powerful political and dictatorial leaders in order to get their misdeeds validated. It is therefore wrong to pin justice to people of Pakistan to a few persons who had never been the paragon of virtue themselves.

The three out of the four key players have therefore directly contributed to the present imbroglio. One of the main reasons for this confrontation is, of course, the vested interest of each player. The nation can move forward from this point if Mian Nawaz Sharif is ready to run the affairs with its coalition partner, accepting the man in sitting in the Presidency as a bitter pill. Second, the solution to the judiciary is to have all PCO-I and PCO-II judges removed.

A fresh appointment of judges should be made through a high-powered parliamentary committee, which should enjoy the trust of the stakeholders to pick the most competent men from the legal fraternity. There are many ways to compliment Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry for having said "No" to a dictator. The President should be retained on the condition of remaining a neutral referee with his powers curtailed by the coalition partners. If the elected political leaders desire to accord priority to nation building, they can overcome the obstacles by sacrificing vested interest. The present crisis which looks like an insurmountable mountain is actually a mole's hill. Leaders should be honest and dedicated to people's cause and they should demonstrate the spirit to be able to sit together with others to achieve the objective of serving the nation rather than themselves, even if they have to do it at a pinch. All the key players should reconcile with each other and run the ship of the country with a united strength.
Hear, hear.


Anonymous said...

"Leaders should be honest and dedicated to people's cause and they should demonstrate the spirit to be able to sit together with others to achieve the objective of serving the nation rather than themselves"

That precondition squashes his idea right there

Ahsan said...


I share your cynicism with respect to intentions but not with respect to outcomes. I really do believe that there is considerable bargaining space here where the parties (Mush, AZ, NS) will find it mutually "satisficing". It's just a matter of finding it.