Please manage your victory prudently (21-03-2009)

The dawn of Monday the16th was indeed brighter for the people of Pakistan. A great weight of uncertainty caused by the lingering issue of the restoration of judges was lifted from the suffering people’s mind. The massive show of strength by the determined opposition-lawyers’ rally finally wringed the positive decision from the government. Relief was writ on the faces of the people when I went out for my morning walk. Some people even waived and congratulated that the show was over.

Is the show really over? The legal fraternity has already started saying that CJP Iftikhar will have to clean the house first by sending the PCO judges home. At the same time there is issue of increasing the strength of judges in the superior judiciary. Many judges and lawyers feel that the Supreme and High Courts judges’ strength cannot be increased through a finance bill, as it was done by the present government with the consent of PML (N). Now if CJP Iftikhar will take this view then another tussle between the government and judiciary may start.

Interestingly the lawyers who have been protesting against these PCO and reappointed judges kept on appearing before them. Many judgments of these judges were accepted by them. Now it remains to be seen how the same lawyers would campaign that these disputed judges are shown the door by the CJP, while their judgments are taken as are accepted.

All eyes would now be on CJP Iftikhar. Last time when he was restored in July 2007 he had the same dilemma whether to come up to popular expectations, or tread the path prudently. One of the problems with some judges in the past has been that they love talk in ‘headlines,’ while listening to the case. This is what happened and pre-warned President General Musharraf in the case against his elections. The judges have to dispense law and not compete in the popularity competition. I am afraid that the recent movement may encourage imprudent populist streak in some judges. They should do justice but keeping a low profile. Let the judgments speak. The judges should refrain from playing to the galleries. The judges and legal fraternity strategy should be one step at a time it’s the great leaps which lead to the clash of institutions.

Now that major demand of the lawyers has been accepted they should go back to their chambers and start taking a hard look on the rampant corruption and inefficiency at the lower level of judiciary. It is at the lower level that the people suffer from the injustices, as only a few can appeal to the high courts.

At the same time the lawyers should do some soul searching for they are one who play every delaying tactics in the book, when it is in their own or in their client’s interest. That is one of the reasons that cases are not decided for decades. Some black sheep also act as the touts for the corrupt judges. The Bar Associations have led a two-year long movement, they are galvanized enough to reform their own organisations also and ensure ethical practice.

On the other hand it seems that Prime Minister Gilani is being encouraged to claim his rightful constitutional position by the establishment and the opposition. And President Zardari is being pushed to remain within the four-walls of the constitution. If the President’s power to dissolve the government is taken away, as offered by him in his address to the parliament, then his only strength would be his position as the PPP Co-chairman. Now political circles are debating would President Zardari be able to control the party once the Prime Minister and the establishment starts calling shots and his wings are clipped? One view is that the establishment would like a meek person in command who listens to them instead of President Zardari and his kitchen cabinet. Zardari team is considered too soft on India and too committed with the Americans to fight Jehadi organisations.

However, people of Pakistan are hoping that the leadership should now stop political bickering and let the present dispensation complete its term. If the opposition does not like anything it has a democratic right to speak up and say that they would change such polices after they are elected in 2013. (ayazbabar@gmail.com)

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