Do Qazi Hussain Ahmed and Imran Khan respect free judiciary?

Do Qazi Hussain Ahmed, Imran Khan and other supportes of Iftikhar Chaudhry respect free judiciary? Or are they interested in only that kind of judiciary which can offer verdicts according to the the wishes of Jamaat-e-Islami, Tehreek-e-Insaf, and Taliban? Read the following news item in which Qazi shamelessly tried to pressurize the Supreme Court of Pakistan including Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry in order to extract a decision of his liking. Shame on you Qazi, Shame on you Imran Khan. (Express, 21 Sep 2007)

Does Irfan Siddiqui respect judiciary? Or only that judiciary which can offer verdict according to the wishes of Qazi, Imran Khan, and Taliban? (Nawaiwaqt, 23 Sep 2007)

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Abdul Qadir Hassan advises Imran Khan, Jamaat Islami etc to refrain from pressurising and blackmailing the Supreme Court. (Express, 23 Sep 2007)

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Opposition in disarray

IT IS difficult to say who between the government and the opposition is capable of demonstrating a higher degree of political gaucherie. The government’s stubbornness is centred on President Pervez Musharraf’s insistence on perpetuating himself in power. From this have followed policies that focus on giving the general another five years — though, mercifully, without uniform. If it were in his power, he would have sought re-election as head of state while brandishing the swagger stick. However, thanks to the popular support to the “non-functional CJ” and the massive rebuff delivered by the Supreme Court, the general had the good sense to realise that the nation would no more tolerate him as a president in uniform. Hence the pledge to discard the uniform before taking oath as president. The opposition’s ranks have been characterised by disunity bordering on chaos and lack of consistency in policies. The opposition consists of honest hardliners as well as conscientious soft-liners, besides turncoats, time-servers and the dubious like their counterparts in the “king’s party”. With less than a fortnight left for the crucial presidential vote on Oct 6, the opposition has failed to demonstrate even a semblance of unity. To begin with, the PPP is already sitting on the fence. Irrespective of how the much talked about deal is going, the PPP — conscious perhaps of its vote bank — has made up its mind to go it alone. On Friday, its secretary-general said the APDM’s decision to quit the assemblies was premature and hasty.

The PPP is not part of the APDM, so its criticism of the latter’s decision is understandable. However, the APDM’s position as a bastion of opposition to President Musharraf seemed shattered on Friday after Raja Zafarul Haq’s categorical announcement prompted Maulana Fazlur Rahman to air his dissenting views from abroad. Without waiting for the JUI chief to return home, Raja Zafarul Haq announced that the APDM parliamentarians would quit the assemblies next Saturday. Maulana Fazlur Rahman’s reservations about quitting the assemblies are well known. In fact, the JUI chief fell out with Qazi Hussain Ahmad publicly on this issue. Immediately after the PML-N leader’s press talk, the JUI chief cautioned his allies against any hasty moves that could precipitate martial law. Talking to Dawn from Makkah he criticised what to him appeared to be the APDM’s change of stance towards the Supreme Court. He claimed that the APDM supported the apex court when it ruled against the government but that its attitude towards the higher judiciary now lacked enthusiasm. Indeed, Raja Zafarul Haq’s claim that the higher judiciary was under “tremendous pressure from the administration” sounds strange against the background of the two Supreme Court decisions that went against the government on key issues, one of them concerning Nawaz Sharif.

Even more astonishing was Qazi Hussain Ahmad’s plea to the public to put pressure on the Supreme Court to deliver the right kind of judgment. The JI chief even hinted at a press conference in Islamabad that the CJ was restored to his office because of the popular agitation and, therefore, there should be a sort of quid pro quo. The judges, he said, were now “silent and subdued”. One is constrained to ask whether the opposition, like the government, confuses an independent judiciary with a pliant judiciary. (Dawn, Editorial, 23 September 2007)

……

Bench without CJ disappoints Qazi

By Our Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD, Sept 20: Jamaat-i-Islami chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed regretted Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry’s decision to keep himself out of the bench hearing petitions challenging the president’s dual offices. He said the nation had stood behind the chief justice in the movement for judiciary’s independence but he had decided not to sit on the bench hearing the petitions.

Talking to reporters Qazi Hussain said the entire nation expected the judiciary to support its stand against the dictatorship.

He said: “In this situation, instead of sitting before their televisions, the nation must rise and confront the elements who want to perpetuate a dictator for five more years.”

He said: “I appeal to the nation … to demonstrate its resolve that it would no longer tolerate dictatorship.”

When it was pointed out that he was criticising the superior judiciary, Qazi Hussain said there was a Supreme Court ruling that the apex court’s performance was subject to public criticism.

Commenting on PML-N acting president Javed Hashmi’s statement after meeting the US ambassador in Islamabad, he said: “So far, there is no undisputed definition of terrorism. But (everyone agrees that the) US is the biggest terrorist state which attacked Iraq and Afghanistan, and patronised India in Kashmir, unleashing a reign of terror. Whoever sides with it is part of this terrorism.”

Qazi Hussain said: “People must not assume that the judiciary has gained independence after the historic movement launched by lawyers and the nation.” He said that while the nation had wholeheartedly supported them, they (the judges) did not appear to be in a mood to support the nation.

Qazi Hussain, who is also president of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, said if the nation did not come out and impressed upon the judiciary what the national interest was, people should not expect justice from the judiciary.

When asked if he wanted to emulate the MQM in pressurising the judiciary, he said: “While the MQM had harassed the SHC through hooliganism, we want to demonstrate outside the apex court’s building peacefully”.

“A very important matter is in the apex court and it is up to the judiciary to demonstrate its independence,” he said. (Dawn, 21 September 2007)

…….

Don’t pressurise the Supreme Court

The All Pakistan Democratic Movement (APDM) decided Friday to launch a “countrywide struggle” leading to the resignations of their MNAs and MPAs from the national and provincial assemblies on the 29th of September against the scheduled re-election of President General Pervez Musharraf on the 6th of October. This is a significant decision since the APDM “protest” has also been lodged in the Supreme Court asking it to disqualify the president from being re-elected. A component of the APDM also held a “protest” rally in front of the Supreme Court with placards condemning the Doctrine of Necessity.

In normal conditions, such a “protest” against the “past” conduct of the judiciary would have been viewed with distaste. Qazi Hussain Ahmad, who addressed the protest rally, said that it was not a pressure tactic but was of a piece with the rally held by the lawyers and the political parties when the case of the dismissal of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was being heard. The rally yesterday had people carrying a coffin with “Doctrine of Necessity” written on it, implying that the honourable court should not revert to its old pattern of servile conduct.

This must have looked odd to many people who are sticklers for decorum when a case is sub judice. Such protest rallies in front of the Court can be interpreted as pressure tactics to “influence” the decision of the judges on the bench. Perhaps the lawyer who presented the APDM case before the honourable bench was better placed to raise the point of the Court’s past. He referred to the martial laws of the past which the Court had permitted under the Doctrine, thus allowing legitimacy to military rule in Pakistan. He insisted that the Court rescind the decisions earlier taken and issue fresh orders invalidating certain decisions taken by parliament with a two-thirds majority.

There is no doubt that the Court can “review” its earlier decisions, but to ask that the Court rescind the 17th Amendment militates against the traditional conduct of the Court based on the letter of the law. For the sake of clarification, an honourable judge of the bench asked how the Court could set aside a constitutional amendment made on the basis of a “deal” among the politicians. The journey from the “text” of the Constitution to its “context” now demanded by the politicians is too big a stride for any institution to take. As this exchange took place inside the Court, the protest rally outside the Court looked most incongruous.

Earlier, too, the “pressure” aspects of the lawyers’ movement had come to the notice of some legal experts. While arguing the case against the dismissal of the Chief Justice, lawyers representing the highest legal body in the country had issued threats to the Court which were most unbecoming of the community they represent. As the intensity of the lawyers’ commitment to the case increased, there were incidents of intimidation and physical beatings to fellow lawyers who were not completely in agreement with the “movement”. Because not much attention was paid to the lack of decorum involved in these incidents, a cleavage in the profession has inevitably developed, which is unfortunate.

A split has indeed occurred between the Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) and the Lahore Bar Association (LBA) over the holding of an All Pakistan Lawyers’ Conference in Lahore. The LHCBA has some objections to the “lawyers’ action committee” and wants to evolve a new lawyers’ consensus on the basis of the planned conference. The opposed party of lawyers contends that the conference was being called to allow hand-picked members to express views in conflict with what the legal community had achieved. So the truth of the matter is that after six months of campaigning, the profession is about to split over issues raised by the movement.

The same evening, a most distinguished lawyer told a TV channel that it was quite correct to hold protest rallies to remind the Court that it functioned within the parameters of the country’s social and political reality, and that its verdicts could not go against the aspirations of the people. We beg to disagree, as did some discussants on the channel, because the court of law is supposed to be free of all external influences, for which reason the goddess of justice is always symbolically depicted as blindfolded. What if the Court were to take notice of how divided those staging the rally actually are?

There are more problems ahead. As the APDM leaders announced their “consensual” decision to take to the streets on the 29th of September, the Secretary General of the MMA, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, announced from Mecca that he was not a part of the decision because he had never been consulted. When the MMA president, Qazi Hussain Ahmad, was told on telephone that his earlier announcement had been contradicted by the MMA secretary general, he simply disconnected the phone. So much for tolerance!

If we take the Maulana’s JUI (in this case JUI-S too) out of the MMA, very little is left; if we take out the PPP from the grand opposition, very little is left again. If pressure tactics are to be resorted to, our humble submission is that they won’t work if applied by a divided plaintiff. (Daily Times, 23 September 2007)

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