March 26, 2008

Justice at last

Filed under: NEW GOVERNMENT AFTER MARCH 24-2008 — civilsocietypakistan @ 3:35 pm
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MARCH 26, 2008


Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Evidence of the change the February 18 election has brought to the country was visible everywhere on Monday. Minutes after the newly elected Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani announced the deposed judges’ detention should be ended immediately, the joyous scenes that broke out outside their homes in fact drew attention away from the session of parliament and towards the judicial residences. Unsurprisingly, the key focus of rejoicing was the home of deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. The appearance of Chaudhry on the balcony of his house, flanked by Aitzaz Ahsan, his family and other lawyers, was the clearest proof delivered so far that the political order had indeed undergone a total transformation.

The situation also exposed the absurdity of the stubborn decision by the Musharraf–dominated caretaker setup not to free them earlier. The writing was etched in bold lettering on the wall after the general election result. Only the most myopic were unable to read what it said. The folly of their refusal to follow the script dictated by the people is now obvious. The decision by the new coalition regarding the judges is also important for other reasons. For one, it signals a commitment to move ahead with the agreement reached in the Murree declaration. It is also a clear indication to all those who had campaigned since November 3 for the cause of an independent judiciary that their efforts were not in vain.

It is not clear what the response to the release of the judges has been within the presidency. No images are available as to the response of President Pervez Musharraf as Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry greeted his many supporters and thanked the nation for supporting him. But, it appears that even now the president is unwilling to heed the Ides of March, and devise a strategy that would permit him a graceful exit from the presidency. The dramatic end to the nearly five month, illegal detention of the judges should have been regarded by Musharraf as one more omen that the winds had changed and could indeed be turning into a tempest directed against him.

So far, it seems, good sense and maturity is holding sway. The deposed chief justice has acted with considerable wisdom and not made any impetuous move. But at one point or the other, this patience could run out. The only just conclusion of the current chain of events is the restoration of the deposed judges. This means the possibility of confrontation still lies ahead, if the presidency refuses to sway and instead insists on standing firm and unyielding. The involvement of people from all walks of life in the issue has created greater awareness than ever before about the need for an independent judiciary. People everywhere are conscious of how crucial the role of the institution is in national affairs and indeed in dispensing genuine justice to all citizens. There can now be no turning back from this reality. Nothing less than a judiciary that is completely unfettered will be acceptable to people. The swarms of joyous people who turned out in such huge numbers at the residence of the deposed chief justice and the unusual scenes that broke out there as the flag was raised over the house, go to underscore this fact. It is a part of the new order in Pakistan — and no matter how great their reluctance, how furious their rage, all players in the game of national politics will eventually need to accept this new order of things as a consequence of the verdict given through the ballots by the citizens.


1 Comment »

  1. Indeed Musharraf needs to leave before someone kicks him out!

    Comment by cheshmgir — March 26, 2008 @ 8:50 pm | Reply

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