By: Barrister Amjad Malik
Every day one gets to read stories about Pakistan where personalities are perceived higher than the institutions and the state contrary to the spirit of constitution 1973 (Art.5). Yesterday General Musharraf was considered as indispensible, and he stuck to the Army chief position for nearly 9 years, as none was replaced as required by law. Same is the case put forward by Govt wooing Kiyani, a noble commoner from Punjab luring him to accept extension of his tenure and keep quiet on the mal governance and drone attacks. That is the true picture all around, you scratch my back and I will scratch yours. Pakistan’s army one of finest in the terrains cannot find a soldier to lead for another 2 to 3 years is a joke. Army chief’s services may be appreciated with the different ways and his advice may be sought in advisor capacity like anywhere else in the world, but revolving the institution around a man is the unfortunate situation our masters create so that institution itself gets affected by the process.
Same will be the case with the judiciary if struggle remains for the Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Choudhary not for the judiciary. Independence of judiciary is a key to solve some of the common problems of our society. Seeking basic justice at the door step at the hands of judges who are non political, unbiased, and are through a system of mentoring, training and judicial and law experience which enable them to dispense justice fairly, independently and uncompromisingly. These things are still present in the academics but remain in books most of the time. Superior judiciary is a mixture of class, creed, intelligence and reflection of society. It gives an intellectual rationale to many ambiguities and ethos to legal ideas and points of law. Our judiciary has become paralysed and is turned into an army battalion where dissent is perceived as an offence. Lawyers and judges die the moment they leave the notion of principle to agree to disagree in a professional and civilised manner, but how can you disagree when you fear of a judicial court martial if you dissent. His honour Khawaja Sharif’s sweeping statements are unfortunate as judges speak through their judgements, but let alone administrative head of Punjab Higher Courts lecturing on judges appointment, financial constraints, security and training, he is kind enough to give sweeping statements on provincial and Federal govt affairs who have already locked horns on judiciary, media and governance issue.
Politicians as a clan have performed poorly. We have been struggling for the full decade for fairness, scared status of ballot, freedom of information and right to choose and the chosen have secretly wiped all chances of possible silent revolution in the society. If we are not free from lack of food, hygiene, electrify and gas, then degree scandals and onslaught on media take over. Basic problems of our questionable contribution in ongoing war on terror and, economic meltdown, landing missiles and drone attacks are yet to be tabled again in the Parliament after even passing a joint resolution. Politicians after getting elected could not get their eyes out of their bellies as usual, that is a big misfortune for the country. Those who are on premier positions do not value that this is the most sacred place to cherish and serve the country and its people they belong and that’s the least they owe it to them. But making money and more money is the motto, so the net result is zero as zero plus zero is always zero.
This is the gloomy picture of Pakistan but still my faith in democracy is not startled. Pakistan is waking up, thanks to free media, wakening lawyers and civil society and conscious bench that Pakistan is taming the uncontrolled and unbridled elite of course establishment as well as political classes who ruled last 63 years as poor and middle class never got their turn. This change is for good. If people who are ruled, start taking interest in their day to day matter as to how they are ruled, then that is the start of any softer revolution and change does not come in a day. Whether it is return of democracy, judiciary restoration, degree scandals, Musharraf’s trial, Judges oath to law of necessity, or NRO pardoning the unforgivable, public is quickly making up their mind and media is helping them to shape their opinions. Good or bad this exercise was never carried out and it must continue as the experiment is exposing, keeping the pace and is throwing a challenge to ruling contenders. An elderly pensioner in a village has now views to express on politics despite his educational constraints and a labourer working in the mills of an urban city know how to protest if electricity, sugar and flour shortage hit his streets as expansion of internet has knit us all into a global village and even we are frequently taking about our homeland day in day out. Better means of communication and transportation is hindering elite class’s attempts to sideline their looted money. Soon they try to park their slashed funds on a flat in London’s busy streets, before the deal is done, media is visiting the place creating public awareness and helping the nation to form an opinion. No ‘surrey palace’ or ‘park lane’ hide outs is the loud message of public with a warning that come to politics with the motto of serving the public and the country otherwise pack your bags and run as Pakistan is fast turning into a place where only whiter than white will survive in this noble profession of politics as enough is enough.
Barrister Amjad Malik, is a Chair of the Association of Pakistani lawyers (UK)
17 July 2010