February 20, 2008

For the rule of law

Filed under: POST-ELECTIONS 2008 — civilsocietypakistan @ 11:28 pm
Tags: , , ,


FEBRUARY 21, 2008


IT is time that the detained judges and lawyers were released. The people have already given their verdict through Monday’s electoral exercise. It was indeed the combined struggle of the legal fraternity, which culminated in the country’s current transition to democracy. How could the nation forget that it was indeed a movement led by a lawyer-politician, the Quaid-i-Azam, which gave them their independence? The nation’s support and backing for the lawyers is evident enough from the polls. And the people neither see any justification in their detention nor in the sacking of 60-odd judges. In addition to the people’s will, more and more voices are being heard to give back the judiciary the place it rightly deserves. Ch Aitzaz Ahsan has said that anyone above the office of the Army Chief actually has the power to reinstate the deposed judges. The Secretary Defence has that power and so the matter can be taken to him. Barrister Ahsan also said that members of the legal fraternity had set a deadline of March 9 for the release and restoration of the judges, after which a countrywide movement would be launched by them.
According to the Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Joseph Biden, who is heading a US Congress delegation to Pakistan, President Musharraf is ready to accept their restoration if the new Parliament so desires. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen how a consensus would develop in the Parliament, but the PML(N), whose stance on the issue is very clear, might work out a formula with PPP. Though one finds no mention of the judges’ restoration in the PPP manifesto, Benazir had earlier called for their reinstatement. Interestingly other parties, particularly the ANP, have also expressed their wish to work on the issue from a united stand. That may give the House enough majority to reach a workable solution.
It is without doubt that the nation views Chief Justice Chaudhry as a hero. Yet society has also come to understand that it is not merely the issue of a few deposed judges and some illegal detentions, rather a fundamental issue of respect for the rule of law. The West’s rapid development in the world can also be attributed to their determination to uphold basic human rights. It is a positive sign that our society is finally grasping the idea. It is need of the hour that public sentiment is honored through a peaceful settlement of the current judicial crises. The sooner the better.

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