PUL SIRAAT : It’s a matter of when
29 April, 2008
By Amjad Malik
Pakistani politicians are undecided to show political will to restore deposed judges most of whom were detained as a result of semi coup of 3rd November 2008.
I am of the view that if ‘political will’ is present the matter was easy to resolve by facilitating access to their respective courts so that they start function from the day 7 member bench gave a decision not to issue PCO and barred judges from taking any fresh oath other than the one they have already taken, however if there is a little doubt as to the suitability of those judges to our corrupt elite then pragmatic politicians are ready to find 101 excuses to sacrifice those 70 judges who said ‘no’ to show loyalty to one man over their Constitutional obligation.
When constitution fails to address the popular demand then unconstitutional means follow, that’s exactly I am foreseeing which is not visible to rulers from their palaces. People are not willing to cave in their national demand and rulers are adamant to ignore it and are pushing the pubic to wall to a time where judges will have to hold courts under the trees. Neither Musharraf regime accepted 18th February mandate nor the newly elect rulers understood the meaning of the silent revolution by vote. They are still underestimating the existence of a bigger force which is still out of parliament as a result of their principled boycott of the General elections and any little weaker signal will ignite a fire which will not be extinguished by mere statements, claims or declarations. Chief Justice and lawyers must understand that the way judges were deposed, only the same way they can be restored and there is no question about it and the day CJ was released his first step as announced could have been to attempt to go to his office to take charge than visiting the house of ruling party leader. That would have made his principled point and the worst could have been a period of further house arrest but that would have been a lot better than falling a prey to this pragmatic mind wrangling of the politicians who will take judges from one committee to another and will make the nation to count up to 30 forwards and backwards for 5 years and all this exercise lawyer leaders and judges are not a party too. Pro political party forces in lawyers though in minority are still up with a task to bottle this struggle but I think they are bound to fail as the problems in the country are so many in number(s) that without justice and honest political process, one may put the bandage on the soar temporarily, but may not cure the wounds and at this moment the nation of 160 million people needs a healing touch, a good news which could be in the form of restoration of judges to take things forward.
Top two Coalition partners have major differences too which are showing day by day. Ruling partner wishes to seek maximum control over administration and strength in provinces before creating a situation for hardliner Sharif to understand that its ‘no’ ‘no.’ Sharif who is at a ‘do or die’ crossroad where his vision of democracy without deposed judges is bleak and his mandate does not allow him to move an inch from his uncompromising stand though in politics nothing is concrete, but both partners with different ideology, manifestos, and history are hugging each other at the same time keeping an eye on the next elections trying to see in each other’s heart and reading mind. This Jewish Muslim marriage of convenience has structural flaws which cannot be corrected with minor cosmetic surgery. I think the coalition is walking on a tight rope and one partner who is pro west, has a quasi understanding with the President which is visible from Confidence building measures of an advanced exemption certificate in the form of NRO, with billions intact in kitty and lifting the condition of BA for election candidacy through courts show that ruling party has a possible capacity to work with the league of remaining Q and MQM and they are waiting for a better time where they do not have to say it but Sharif understands it himself that they cannot work together and buck stops here.
Sharif however has to decide when to sit in opposition as if the 30th April deadline is gone without achieving its desired results then to me this will be the first and final test of mutual cooperation. Afterwards, he will be up for challenges at various fronts if not on 18th amendment to restore constitution at 12 Oct 1999 stage then on Qadeer Khan’s release, If not Lal Masjid trial then on issue of MQM joining the Federal Govt or if not on 12th May incident investigation then on issue of Western influence in our tribal belt. In a nutshell he has many a mountains to climb with a trust deficit. There are major issues of contention with coalition partners and unification of most of PML as well as gathering APDM forces coupled with lawyers could be the way forward to restore truly a two party system as well as 2 forces of ideology in action where it will revive democratic spirit in the country as ideally conservative leader Sharif is best suited to the role of strong opposition in centre than recently discredited Elahi in polls to confront Musharraf as well as ruling pro West moderates.
General Musharraf is gaining support day by day and no one else but ruling party has resuscitated him otherwise no one else in his situation could have allowed the rumours of using 58(2)b as well as putting fronts for seeking stay orders from Dogar’s court against any potential restoration of judges executive order. Musharraf’s partners are all seeing in one direction as he is in demand by west being a guarantor of the 11 billion and change as well as being the signatory of the alleged tacit understanding of fire at will and the shopping list of the United States which the country is servicing.
In these circumstances independent judiciary, true parliamentary democracy, and rule of law and constitutionalism is a dream which requires sheer understanding of the events unfolding and hypocrisy of our ruling elite who are reluctant to allow the people of Pakistan to snatch sovereignty of the state once for all from the clutches of mighty. It requires continuous peaceful struggle where they will have to throw above board matchless individuals immaculately in the parliament through a national struggle over the longer period keeping themselves clean and by rule of surviving. Pakistan’s pragmatic parliament has shown why military dictatorship prevails in the country and the reason of 4 coup de tats in only 60 years is their own inefficiency by not to allow a stronger judiciary which could stop the smooth taking over’s by military men in violation of Article 6 of the Constitution of Pakistan. Both institutors are equally to blame for promoting the idea of take over as one invites them the other grants indemnity and legality. For 9 years people in particular opposition have been crying to ouster military from politics and the first thing the Prime Minister does is to invite all corpse commanders including their chief and President Musharraf to sit with politicians at a dining table with music and dance around, then in this changed environment how can you practically manoeuvre their exit which gives a wrong signal of accepting the concept of troika thus ditching the struggle for rule of law by default. Coalition partners are on ‘Pul Siraat’ walking on a tight rope and on any one day and on any particular issue they are bound to fall and it’s a matter of when.