Emergency

People are confused and asking whether Emergency was imposed to curb terrorism or it is terrorism against judiciary and media. The latter is evident. Both higher judiciary and media have been injured by the November 3 emergency blast. Sad but it is true.

 

Clad in black sharwani, the President read a long list of grievances against judiciary. He was explaining the objectives of the Emergency imposed by his other half which wears Khaki.

 

But let’s see where Emergency story built up started. President is absolutely right that the government has the right to forward a reference to the Supreme Judicial Council. And that’s what he did. In the first place the case built against the Chief Justice of Pakistan was so unconvincing and shoddy that it should have been thrown out by the Prime Minister when it was brought to him by some biased officials. The biggest charge against him was that he pushed his son’s promotion and transfer. Even if he did, who is that holy in this country who has not done so or some other similar act? Aren’t there many general and their scions appointed on high posts on recommendations of the high ups?

 

In this case all those persons who took the pressure and followed the alleged unjust CJP instructions should have also been sacked. One gentleman had a cheek to say in his affidavit that he acted under pressure. And countrymen, he is an honourable man, who one fears can buckle in under pressure from the terrorists or an enemy country.

 

Some evidence attached in the reference could have landed many in trouble as it smelled of spying on judges.

 

Although before 3/9 CJP’s popularity was at the lowest notch in his constituency, manhandling of CJP and then one mistake after another was enough to pitch the entire legal fraternity against the government.  The sordid affair did damage the government reputation locally and internationally. So for all this the government should blame its own inefficiency, mishandling and death wish, but not the judiciary.

 

Decision in Lal Masjid case by the Supreme Court by two judges and acquittal of hardened terrorist by the Sindh high court did upset many in the country who are sick of religious black-mailing and terrorism. But should we blame the judiciary for that. In many cases terrorists, militants and criminals are acquitted because the cases made against them lack evidence and legal strength to stand in the court. Why? Only because this country has inefficient and inadequate prosecution and investigation system.

 

Interestingly, the President talked at length about the acquittal of 61 Lal Masjid terrorists and the very next day 25 terrorist were swapped to get 211 army men released in Waziristan. And the judges who acquitted the Lal Masjid alleged terrorists were sworn in once again under PCO. Not only had the same bench ordered the release, strangely they also insisted who should be the Khatib of the Masjid.

 

Much of the terrorism is being nurtured in the FATA and PATA areas and incidentally they do not come under the superior court of Pakistan. So the government’s action in these Guantanama Bay like jurisdiction could have gone without Supreme Court’s interference. But if the arrested people from FATA and PATA are detained in the settled areas of the country, the courts will have to extend their jurisdiction.

 

Other irritant for the government was continuation of the missing persons’ cases. The problem is that if the people are dangerous why the agencies cannot follow the available laws? Why they need courts to condone violation of detention laws? They should realize that the basic principle of law is that the accused has to be given benefit of doubt. The courts have to honour this age old principle.

 

Once again judges of the superior courts were asked to take an oath under a new PCO Mark 2. This means the judges taking oath twice under the same government. Only 30% of the 95 judges of the superior courts of the country accepted the offer to take a fresh oath. Their contention is that the Emergency is illegal and PCO emanating from that is unconstitutional. The government lobbies I have talked to here in Islamabad say “we are not claiming that Emergency order is constitutional. “It is extra-consitutional my friend and that is why judges need a fresh oath because their previous oath was under constitution. Now that you got the weird logic of Emergency through COS order, rest your mind and stop shuffling the pages of Pakistan mauled constitution.

 

Problem of all government functionaries has been that they want an easy way out when dealing with dissent. They want a subdued judiciary to pass favourable judgements, while they fail to do the prosecution job efficiently. After failing to present the case of the government effectively, professionally and innovatively, they want to muzzle the media without going through the prescribed legal course. And all are looking for short cuts and circumventions of the country’s laws. If this approach does not work these functionaries go running to their big bosses and convince them that the judiciary and media are working against the government. Media the government should realize is always on the side of the underdog. More so if the bullies are hounding them unabashedly.

 

Tailpiece: Ironically, around midnight of 6th November the government of Sindh decided to take 40 lawyers who were arrested from the High Court on 5th November morning to the Karachi jail. They were packed like sardines in closed van which has the capacity of about 20 persons. When they reached Karachi Jail, the jail authorities refused entry of the van without detention orders of the lawyers. And rightly so. The policemen then scrambled to get these orders. For over an hour these lawyers were suffocating in the van. Feeling sick one lawyer, who had managed keep a cell phone, rang up an influential colleague pleading that they should be put in jail. This friend in need rang up some top officials and pleaded that these people should be jailed as soon as possible so that they can get out of the damn van.

 

Now you see not only one has to pull the strings to get a job for a son, even to get in the jail custody you need right contacts in our beloved land. One day I shall attempt a tragic-comedy on such political episodes of Pakistan? (ayazbabar@gmail.com)

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