CIVIL SOCIETY PAKISTAN

May 31, 2008

Time to restore the judges

Filed under: NEW GOVERNMENT AFTER MARCH 24-2008 — civilsocietypakistan @ 1:43 am
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THE NATION

MAY 31, 2008

By Fakir S. Ayazuddin

Exactly ninety days after a decisive victory at the polls, the euphoria of the civilian assumption of their writ over the “military” interloper sees a visible drift towards a stalemate in the Grand coalition. The two major partners have not yet openly accused the other side of sabotage – but it won’t be long now. Neither side fully understands that in a coalition the two parties while having different manifestos, have been elected to perform their roles in a new set-up where the wishes of the partner are to be respected, and accommodated in the decisions to be taken.
However the single major decision – the restoration of the judiciary pre-November 3, in toto, without addendum’s was the crucial factor that was used in the N campaign. As there has been no restoration, coupled with obfuscation on behalf of the PPP for the delay, and aided by the presidency, while new coalition suitors are brought forward, all with credentials that do not bear close scrutiny. The purpose of these herrings being, to delay the post election decisions, and thus raising serious doubts about the competence of PPP’s ability to govern. The rumblings of citizens about the hardships they face on a daily basis, are projected in the media, adding to the anti-coalition bias already in place. The grave danger will be the accusation of the civilians being unable to govern, and it will not be long before the cry “bloody civilians” is heard again.
The PPP government may also be convinced by the Bush Administration to distrust CJ Chaudhry for his actions in the missing persons cases. This would be a mistake, for the western media is now filled with reports accusing the Bush Administration of serious human rights violations. Some go as far as saying that Bush could be tried for war crimes. The latest article by Dave Lingorff, a Philadelphia based journalist, describes how Pakistani and Afghani prisoners some as young as 12,were flown out to Guantanamo, as suspects. The Pakistani government is rumoured to have received 500,000 Dollars as blood money for one high value suspect. This indicates that the US would not like an independent judiciary in Pakistan, and certainly not one that would insist on the missing person’s cases. The entire establishment of Guantanamo was to remove the activities at Guantanamo, outside the ambit of American Legal system. Why then would the US allow the restoration of a judge notorious for his independence, and for refusing to acquiesce to demands from the three departments directly running the covert operations.
Surely it is important that the sovereignty of the Pakistan should cover our citizens, and above all our soil. It is becoming increasingly clear that the US micro-management of our policies is not just for the specific purpose of continuing its War On Terror, but of giving protection to aspects that may be on the wrong side of the law. Chaudhry Iftikhar may be a victim of this part of US policy, and this should make him that much more valuable to Pakistan, to protect our interests. To restore him is now vital to our sovereignty itself.
It is therefore important that the PPP should immediately restore the CJ without any delay, for this is jeopardising the coalition and may even thwart the nascent democratically elected government, whose teething problems maybe converted into a cry of incompetence, causing the anti-democracy forces to try yet another attempt to derail the forces of freedom.
Pakistan is a very important cornerstone in the world War on Terror, and we are cooperating in the best way we know, under the able army command, but we must ensure that the conduct of this war should not be at the expense of the citizens or the sovereignty of Pakistan. It is this message that must be conveyed clearly to the Americans by the coalition, and that is the reason that Chaudhry Iftikhar should be restored immediately. To further delay this move will cast a further doubt on the motives behind the delay. With the lawyers march already underway, the hot summer could erupt into an ugly confrontation. The firebrands are already loose, and their oratory is being welcomed at every opportunity. The audiences are growing with the TV media acting as a catalyst and it should not be long before the PPP supremo reading the signals decides to act on his own. He has the mandate, and the support from the others is at hand. This is his moment.

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