Archive for March, 2009

Long March: Another Historic Decision?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hearing the news that Zardari government has decided to restore judges, I was relieved; I was relieved because country was saved from going into turmoil and uproar by Zardari deciding to retreat from his stance. Watching live coverage of jubilations and celebrations; people dancing on the streets, distributing sweets, excitement was everywhere, I was thinking if all these excited will ever justice or they just have been robbed again in the name of Justice. I could not convince myself that this was all about independent judiciary.

Though everyone who supported Lawyers’ movement claims that it is a “Movement for Justice” but when it was started – March 2007 – most of its supporters including political parties joined this movement only because of their hatred for Musharaf; all who wanted to get rid of Musharaf used Lawyers’ movement as a platform. If it was a movement for Justice and its objective was to restore then sacked Chief Justice Iftikhar, it should have stopped after 20th July 2007 – the first “Historic Decision” – but anti-Musharaf elements kept it alive and used against him until he was made to leave.

Pakistan People’s Party was an integral part of Lawyers’ movement and used it successfully to keep Musharaf under pressure; however, it distanced itself from the movement after it got into power. PPP got what it wanted from being part of lawyers’ movement – they got public support and then got into power.

PML (N) was also actively involved in lawyers’ rallies and demonstrations but it did not approve lawyers’ decision to boycott election 2008 – Politically it was too much to give up for PML (N). They abandoned lawyers, APDM and others to participate in Election 2008 and then managed to form its government in Punjab. From there on, it again got involved in Lawyers’ protests and used it – and used it well – to keep PPP under pressure; it also got political fame by supporting the movement that it can encash in next elections. However, it did not use Lawyers’ movement to confront PPP government until Sharifs were disqualified and Punjab was put under Governor’s Rule.  Did they not want “Justice” before they lost their government and were made ineligible?

With show-of-power on 15th March, Sharifs’ were able to break a deal with Zardari where they will get Punjab government back, their disqualification decision will be reversed and a possible removal of restriction for becoming Prime Minister more than twice. And as a bonus, they also get the credit for Restoration of Judiciary.

Jamat-e-Islami could not get its political objectives (i.e. a mid-term elections) so their first response to PM Gillani’s speech is “It is not the restoration of 2nd November Judiciary”.  This may mean they will start protesting in the name of “Justice” unless they get what they want.

Imran Khan’s first response is “It will not be acceptable if the Judiciary is restored through a deal”. His statement refers to the deal between Sharifs and Zardari.

Lawyers also came out with cautious statement and some indicated to continue the struggle in the name of what they believe is right.

It is hard to understand for me as to how a common person will get justice when we have not changed the system. I do not understand how justice will come to a common person’s life “only” with Chief Justice Iftikhar’s “suo motu” actions. I do not understand how we can fight for restoration of a single “person” when we advocate about “strong” institutions. Last time we restored Chief Justice Iftikhar, the only thing he did was to confront Musharaf and Ch. Shujahat had to say “Hum jahan bhi jatay hain agay se Chief saab aa jatay hain” (wherever we go we are confronted by Chief Justice).

For me, we just have been exploited in the name of Justice; in the very same way when “Pope Urban II” exploited Christians to go in war with Muslims – the first Crusade – but the objective was to save Europeans from Muslims who were knocking at the doors – just next to Byzantine empire, in the very same way when Muslims were exploited in the name of “Jihad” and were made to fight in Afghanistan – the objective was to serve US interests and not to save Islam. For me people could not say “NO” when they were asked “Do you want Justice?” to become a part of Lawyers movement – a movement where each participant had its own objective; it was same as when Zia asked “Do you want Islam?” and no one could say no, same as when Mualana Fazlulla (Pakistani Taliban) asks “Do you want Shria?” and many of us could not argue with him.

In my opinion, the only Justice who got is the Chief Justice Iftikhar – who has got his office back – and set a trend for others to get justice by use of street power. Burning tires, looting public (and private) properties, marches with batons cannot be justified in any way – same as use of Police force on public rallies cannot be justified.  And this is why Sharifs disowned all violent actions of long marchers and their supporters.

I think the decision to restore judiciary is “Historic” ONLY because it has stopped Pakistan going into turmoil, it has cooled down the political temperature, and it has avoided the confrontation between political rivals that this country cannot afford at this time.

Only time will tell if this “Historic” decision will bring justice in people’s life, if “movement for justice” will not be revived with new demands, if chief justice will work on providing justice rather confronting with government and obliging those who helped him get back in his office, if legal complexities created by restoration will be dealt through dialogues and not on the streets, if Chief Justice’s supporters will accept all his decisions whether these will be in favor or against them.

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