Editor’s Note: July 2012
The entire nation appears to be held hostage to the acrimonious tussle between the coalition government and the judiciary.
The system is being wound up… the army is taking over… the Taliban are marching in… the country is breaking up – apprehensions such as these are creating an atmosphere of uncertainty and instability.
The removal of Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani as Prime Minister on charges of contempt is not the end of the story, but the likely beginning of many sordid chapters in this unending saga.
Raja Parvez Ashraf, the new man in, has already made public his intent not to write to the Swiss courts. Additionally, the PPP is contemplating controversial moves such as the creation of four Supreme Courts, one for each province, and additionally changing the law of contempt through an act of parliament. All of which will further antagonise the chief justice and exacerbate the crisis.
Can a nation, that is reeling from loadshedding (24 hours in certain instances), where people are committing suicide for lack of jobs and food and where, alongside, abductions, dacoities and shoot-and-run acts, have become the norm, be subjected to more suffering?
Can a country where Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is targeting the Shias with a vengeance and “Mullah Radio” is beheading soldiers and releasing chilling videos of its brutalities to the media, afford a clash of institutions?
For the past several months, the entire national debate has focused on two personalities – Asif Zardari and Chief Justice Chaudhary – to the exclusion of some of the most critical issues that will determine the future of this country. While Zardari holds the nation hostage to his own survival, the chief justice’s high moral ground has been seriously eroded by Arsalangate. It’s time, the country came first.
The merits of judicial activism apart, Justice Chaudhary needs to turn his attention to the lower courts where justice eludes the common man, the killings in urban centres like Karachi where the daily toll is six to seven dead, if not more, and finally, the lawyers who have become a law unto themselves and are now dictating whether a lawyer can plead a case or not, banning the entry of certain lawyers from bar associations across the country and beating up judges for giving rulings against them. The PPP government, on the other hand, needs to attend to the business of state – not self-perpetuation – to end this state of uncertainty and announce an earlier election schedule if it wants to save democracy from being hijacked by a third force.
In any case, what ‘miracles’ will it perform in the next few months that it hasn’t in the last four years? President Zardari says he will not allow a trial of BB’s grave. More likely, BB is turning in her grave at the state this country has been reduced to in her husband’s tenure.
This article is from the July issue of Newsline. Look out for the latest issue at newsstands across Pakistan.
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