Sunday, March 15, 2009

Chaudhry Restored, What Next?

Now that deposed chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry is going to be restored after a nearly two-year struggle, don't imagine for a moment that the political crisis in Pakistan is over. The relationship between the executive and the judiciary is going to be fraught with tension and both Chaudhry and Zardari are not the types to give an inch. Here are some sticking points that I think could ignite another crisis.

- If the Chaudhry Supreme Court finds Musharraf's November 3 Emergency unconstitutonal that will mean the end of the NRO. This could lead to a reopening of cases against Zardari and others in the PPP, including Rehman Malik and Prime Minister Gillani.

- The US is not going to be happy if the 'missing' persons cases start to be heard again. Let me add that I am all in favour of the judiciary hearing these cases, but it will lead to increased US pressure at a time when relations between the two countries are at a crucial juncture.

- It will become even harder for the PPP to keep the PML-N out of power in the Punjab. This will be rightly be seen as a victory for the right-wing parties and Nawaz Sharif, already the most popular leader in the country, will be strengthened. He is going to create major problems for the centre and the PML-N is now a step closer to power.

- The inside story of the PPP agreed to restore Chaudhry would make for interesting reading. Speculation says that Gillani has been in favour of restoring Chaudhry with Zardari implacably opposed. I would love to know is this was the first case of Gillani imposing his will on Zardari. If it is, the balance of power in Pakistan has changed.

- Lastly, while I have been critical of many of the tactics of the laywers' movement and hold Iftikhar Chaudhry in very low regard, it is worth recalling that Musharraf's actions were blatantly illegal. A relatively widespread movement has been able to force a dictator from office and peacefully achieve its aims.


Ambedkar said...

Interested to know why u hold Iftikhar Chaudhry in low regard.

Anonymous said...

what ambedkar said.
also, which tactics of the lawyers movement do you disagree with? (this isn't meant to be an attack at all, but a genuine query)

Asfandyar said...

I think bubs' low regard for the CJ is because of his tactics in trying to get himself back in the seat.

In other words, though Musharraf inadvertedly politicized him, CJ Iftikhar has hardly done anything to revert that. It's interesting how we can claim to want/have an independent judiciary when the CJ himself has done little to unpoliticize himself.

Does anyone for a second geniunely believe that the CJ is not going to think long and hard about having a go at the PPP-led government?

Anyway, I may be wrong there, but regardless of everything it's nice to know that people still have some power, even if our politicians keep trying to believe they can dick us over.

Lets see what happens when the PML-N government comes into power next and trots out the usual bordering-on-authoritarian policies.

Btw, does this mean we see more of Imran Khan, or less?

Anonymous said...

How could he depoliticize himself, especially if he was not the one who politicized himself? Gimme an example. Anyways, he met with Asif Zardari right after his release. The cover was that he went to condole BB's death, but this was an attempt to be on good terms with Zardari (given that he was seen as proSharif, the end result would be that he'd depoliticize himself). I would hope from some more concrete examples, rather than speculative, overly cynical bullshit. You guys spend your days making smart ass remarks but offer little toward constructive change.

bubs said...

Actually my main problems with Chaudhry were his conduct as chief justice. He was willing to give hours of his time to the likes of Sharifuddin Peerzada but was incredibly rude to lawyers who were not well-known. He also demanded presidential-level protocol and tore anyone who denied him that a new asshole. Note that this does not mean that I supported his illegal removal from office, just that I don't like him personally.

I have two main disagreements with the lawyer's movement. First, many leading lawyers would criticize Chaudhry in private but were never willing to do so in public. I feel they should have stood up for the principle of an independent judiciary without lionizing a single judge.

Second, I feel the lawyers too readily allowed themselves to be co-opted by the right-wing parties rather than maintaining a separate identity. This, I felt, would harm them even if they were successful as they would become foot soldiers of the right in any future judicial battles.

karachi khatmal said...

fair defense, but five rupees is one of the various sections of pakistani society that have been wary at best, cynical at worst towards Iftikhar Ch. & this whole movement.

Generally, such opinions are more often found amongst people who are one of the following

from karachi


grew up in, and/or experienced politics consciously during the 90s

well off and welll educated



there is a combination of factors, the lawyers movement is looked down upon, especially because people who hold this opinion are more worried about the threat of the taliban, feel that this is something of the same old bullshit, can't find themselves trusting the Chaudhary because of personal reasons and/or traits.

i must confess i have never myself held a passionate interest during the whole affair, especially when the student protests took place in my university, right after i had graduated.

my point is that to say the CJ politicized issues is a bit unfair - his approach has been to not give interviews, public speeches, or any other propaganda. the whole movement on the media and in the consciouness has been on the basis of his supporters. to have such fanatical supporters and still keep a low profile is quite amazing. add to that a newly born media industry ffeeding off this issue 24/7 and still no tv appearances is a bit unbelievable. yes we can poke holes, but take a long term view of it and its as fair to romanticize him as a political hero as it is to for any other political hero - be it Gandhi or Che or Mao or Bush.

Uzer said...

I think being a cynical Pakistani is a fair emotional trait to hold considering our fairly unstable political history.

I'm a little disappointed to hear what Bubs had to say about Chaudhry. For once I'd like our citizens to have a hero worth idealizing, at least a little bit.

I wonder where Aitizaz Ahsan is.

Anonymous said...

sensible reply bubs. but i don't get the sense u guys r invested in the society in which you live and have some sort of connection to what's going on. being brown sahibs who live in the autonomous zone of clifton/defence means that u cede the political process to forces u don't like. it is an admission of defeat without trying. i find it to be cowardly. ur country is shit poor and about to be fried by al qaeda. isn't now the time to do soemthing instead of hiding behind episodes of lost and soccer and smart ass commentary? what ru gonna tell ur kids? oh yea pakistan went to the shits...i wrote sum really funny blog posts during that time!!

Tazeen said...

Asfandyar and Bubs,

such sane analysis when everyone is singing CJ's praises.

I personally think that Lawyers Movement was an opportunity lost. For two years, they campaigned for restoration of a single person instead of creating a new and much needed secular polity and then coopted with rightwing nutjobs like Imran Khan and Qazi Hussien and Nawaz Shariff, who till date remains the only head of state who encouraged his party members to physically attack and ransack supreme court and CJ

karachi khatmal said...

why is it so wrong to sing the CJ's praises? intellectual embarrassment because we didn't like/support this movement when it started?

because all the right loves it, and pakistan has actually witnessed a semi-revolution engineered by the right, not the left?

because people are acting like 62 years of absolute fuckwittery has been replaced by one re-appointed judge?

these are all good reasons, but i really do think that we need to give credit where credit is due. yes there are a billion things you can say to deflate any hope or idealism, but at the end of the day here is a simple fact

no one, no movement, no person, not even ZAB managed to get rid of a military dictator and get their own agenda successfully through. Ayub was replaced by that stupid bastard who drunk his way to splitting the country - with the connivance of ZAB - and Zia was taken from us by Uncle Sam.

This was a genuine first in our history. We can be cynical or skeptical, and yes we do have the terrorists to worry about still, but this is how it is. nothing like this has ever happened before, and i actually look forward to anyone proving otherwise.

and you can't blame the lawyers for letting the right come out rosy out of this whole thing. the country had been forcibly tilted that way for almost three decades now, and more importantly, as the editor of our channel just conceded, the seculars have done FUCK ALL for so goddam long its not even funny. we may hate the right coming out on top, but their ascendancy was inevitable because the army, the middle classes, the urban centers, and slowly, even the final bastion - the illiterate rural types - have all been indoctrinated by the right for so long.

don't blame the lawyers for it. and take a moment out to revel in a moment of history, even if you didn't support it, or believe in its merits. because this was historical.

sorry for the rant.

Asfandyar said...

kk: Wasn't Pakistan holding elections in Feb 2008 and the whole process to get them held with the PPP/PML-N competing just as historical?

I'm not saying this is a lesser achievement of that it should be negated or anything. It's just that we all jumped about talking about Pakistan's return to democracy and that hasn't really turned out rosy.

Thus, to be a wee-bit cynical right now (after a day or two of faith and all that) isn't exactly out of order.

Chaudry Iftikhar won't be able to turn back the tide of corruption and inefficiency that plagues the judicial system, as well as his inability to address the issue of the taliban etc (for, you know, obvious reasons :|).

Is there hope that civil society can mobilize for the greater good? Yes. Ofcourse there is. But can you really say that Nawaz Sharif - the main proponent behind all this, lest we forget - did this for the good of the country or the judiciary?

As Uzer said, to be cynical now is a 'fair emotional trait'.

And calm down!

karachi khatmal said...

@ Asfand

in my two year career, i've witnessed a military dictator resigning, a black man being elected into the white house, BB being killed, karachi becoming safer than lahore and islamabad, pakistani cricket actually looking in danger, and now this (amongst so so much more)

i guess its a force of habit to celebrate 'historic' events now :P

i guess i'm just reacting to the fact that so many of us can't enjoy this, myself included perhaps, when it is one of the few good things to happen amidst so much shit.

and opportunistic politicians have ALWAYS benefited from the end of military rule. Ayub gave us ZAB, Zia gave us BB, Mushie has given us Nawaz (belch) i don't like it either...

i'll try to be calmer now :)

Tazeen said...


Whats wrong with singing CJ's praises.

For starters, I generally dont like it when we try and put a halo around a human being. It is most unbecoming. Secondly, I hate selective amnesia. While it is Farz and sunnat for everyone to castigate Dogar and his daughter (Abid Ali Sher's sole claim to fame is the fact that he headed parliamentary committee on Farah Dogar case) but CJ Iftekhar Chaudhry and his unlawful support for son Arsalan chaudhry's induction in Police force when he flunked in Bachelors ka angrezi ka parcha (I mean one has to be really dumb to flunk undergrad compulsory English) is totally ignored by the same people.

I also hate the fact that what could have been an amazing opportunity to create a new and secular polity for the bigger and better things was squandered and was reduced to restoration of just one person - again the focus was on personality cult and not the institution.

It was a battle between two powerful and egotistical men (Mushrraf and CJ Chaudhry) where one prevailed over the other. There is nothing more to the whole saga.

Kalsoom said...


I agree, I don't think the CJ was the most fantastic individual to begin with - in fact, he is pretty highly politicized. However, I still applaud what occurred today - not because he was reinstated, but because of how determined the people were to see that occur. I saved my cynicism for another post, once the cheering dies down. :)

I'm actually really interested to see what happens to Zardari now - he must have made some deal to somehow not get thrown back in jail, don't you think?

Superman said...

Kalsoom you're a blank slate with no real ideas and thoughts of your own.

Kalsoom said...

Wow. And that was the most original insult ever. Congratulations.

Superman said...

Wasn't an insult but just the facts lady. don't see any original insights in your news summaries. no real opinions either. you are a weathervane. seem like a nice person but really really bland.

5 pupees is the only good paki blog. rest are crap. but these krunchi grammar school types are wasting their lives jello shot by jello shot to wash away the cynicism and sense of dislocation.

would like to see more solutions rather than just witticisms, or what i call shitticisms.

Kalsoom said...

You know what, I'm not even going to entertain your sad attempt to put me down. You don't like what I have to say? Ignore it. But it takes a pretty small person to come up with ways to put others down for the work and effort they do. That's all I have to say on that.

Noor said...

Hey Superman,

First of all, I enjoy your moniker. I am going to assume that proper spelling and intelligent discourse is your kryptonite. With that being said, I greatly appreciate your endorsement of 5 'pupees.' Where can I locate that blog? I hear that it's great. I believe it focuses on young dogs and their need to yip and bark at everything in sight without understanding what they are so upset about.

Reminds me of certain superheroes with nothing better to do than fly around aimlessly throwing empty barbs and idle mockeries at industrious people going about their lives in a respectable manner.

I have a constructive suggestion for you. Start your own blog and provide the type of mind-blowing and in-depth insights that you truly yearn to see on a daily basis. Disseminate the link on this blog and we will all read along and provide you with the type of feedback that you gave here. Let us know how much it helps in your pursuit to inform the public about what is going on in Pakistan. When you pen this blog under your real name and begin providing the type of intellectually stimulating news reporting that you demand of everyone else, I will actually start listening to your low brow blather. Oh, and thank you Superman. Thank you for keeping the world safe from the kinds of people who insult others to compensate for their own shortcomings. Here's to you my friend. I would veer away from claiming to be the Man of Steel. Perhaps the Man of Tarnished Tin would be more appropriate.

Tazeen said...


anyone who trolls with a name like Superman should not even use the word original.


I dont think it is the people who brought about that change. A friend from Lahore send me this text early morning. It said : Hillary Clinton (D - Punjab) ne kaam dikha diya. In fact it was not just Secretary Clinton, who undoubtedly sealed the deal. Richard Holbrooke worked real hard to broker this, not to mention poster boy of Labour Party David Miliband, who according to sources has a soft corner for Nawaz.
Other players/facilitators were Robert Brinkley, Ali Asseri and Zorica McCarthy to name a few.

Kalsoom said...


You're right, outside forces as well as the COAS were instrumental in pressuring the government to broker a deal. But do you think they would have come in had there not been so much public protest and subsequent crackdown? I see it as being pressure from all sides, or as cyclical in nature. There were multiple factors responsible, but I still see this as an achievement belonging to the movement. At the same time, I also don't think the political shortcomings of the deal have been realized yet. I'm interested to see how it pans out, but I hope this solution, no matter how long it lasts, allows us to look at our more pressing security issues now.

bubs said...

Anon422: I think it is unfair to say that I am hiding behind episodes of lost. I think there is far more to life than politics, even with the ever-present threat of the Taliban hanging over us. And our blog posts on the situation in Pakistan has been anything but smart-ass. We are trying to come to terms with the various crises besetting Pakistan, analysing what is going on and predicting what might happen next. There is a certain amount of cynicism in our posts but I think it is borne more of experience than a desire to be a smart ass.

Karachi Khatmal: I actually think we have some points of agreement. I also think, my few criticisms notwithstanding, that is an outstanding achievement by the lawyers' community. I do think this is quite a historic moment even though very few of my worries about the future of this country have been answered.
But I have to disagree that the seculars have done fuck all. NGOs and civil rights organisations were initially a major part of the movement; they just happened to get marginalised by the right-wing, which is far better organised and has greater street power.

Superman: I am a 'krunchi grammar school type' but I'm not sure I'd know a jello shot if I saw one. And again, read our posts on the CJ situation and tell me if they can honestly be described as 'shitticisms'.

Ahsan said...

Bubs please check email.