The Boot, the Cloak and the Idiot Box: Is the 3-Jeem alliance unraveling – by Ismail Effendi

Certain journalists in Pakistani media are once again creating a fake hero in Iftikhar Chaudhry.

As allegations of massive corruption by Pakistan Chief Justice Iftikhar Chauhdry’s son (Rs.350 million and counting) come to the surface, it is strange to see many prominent journalists doing their best to exonerate this judiciary of any culpability.  Bear in mind that so far no charges have been framed except for another Suo Moto initiated by the Chief Justice based on press reports.

Pakistan’s mainstream media (both right-wing dominated Urdu press and pseudo-liberal dominated English press) is already spinning the corruption allegations against Dr. Arsalan (alias Ibne Iftikhar) as a veiled threat by the security establishment for the Judiciary to stop its “activism” in the missing persons case. For them, this is one giant conspiracy to bring down a “truly independent” judiciary that has been hatched in GHQ (Pakistan army) and in the Presidency House. 

The media, it seems, wants us to forget that the son of the Chief Justice of Pakistan was allegedly gambling in the casinos of Monte Carlo and present this sorry spectacle as punishment for some principled stance by this Judiciary.  This is the line that was closely followed by many prominent journalists and anchors that included Najam Sethi , Hamid Mir, Umar Cheema, Javed Chaudhary and even PTI’s Shafqat Mahmood.  In the last case, PPP senator Ghani promptly dismissed these unfounded allegations against the PPP and challenged Shafqat for the evidence.

The PPP senator probably knows the answer that there are clearly different standards and the extravagent lifestyle of the son of a serving Chief Justice who resides with his father should not be of much concern and that any apprehensions about this Judiciary can only be a giant conspiracy if vast sections of Pakistan’s private media are taken seriously.

Unfortunately for this biased media, the facts are not with them.

Fact:  On the same day that Malik Riaz made his explosive allegations against the son and the Chief Justice, a Supreme Court commission found former Ambassador Hussain Haqqani guilty of writing anti-Army memo – without hearing him

An unsigned Memo that attempts to defenestrate the military establishment was termed an act of treason by this same Judiciary and we are expected to believe that this same judiciary is taking a stand against the military establishment.  Contradictions galore.

So far, the Judiciary has done its best to undermine an elected civilian PPP-lead government and in the last few days, it has selectively gone after PPP elects and disqualified them on the basis of dual nationality.

Fact:  Ever since the last military dictator, Musharaf filed an application against the current Chief Justice in 2007, this Judiciary has continued playing to the gallery and with the help of a pliant and biased media, painted itself as the champion of Human Rights – especially in Balochistan.  Since that time, hundreds of Baloch nationalist youth have disappeared and scores of them have been murdered in a province that the whole world knows is being run by the military establishment via the FC.   Hundreds of other Baloch have been gruesomely murdered for being Shia while the chief of the virulently anti-Shia militia,  Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has been released by this  very same Judiciary even as he boasted about his past crimes and future intentions to the same.

In all this time, the Supreme Court has done quite literally nothing except berate some mid-ranking officers as stern school teachers do to a naughty child.  And that also in the last few weeks before which time, it was simply threatening to impose emergency against the provincial government.

Why did it take 5 years for this Judiciary to finally acknowledge what the whole world already knew.  That elected governments had no control of the situation in Balochistan  and the FC under the army called all the shots.  It is deeply insensitive for the media to use the massive human rights violations as a smokescreen to deflect corruption charges against Arsalan Iftikhar.  The same “Missing Persons Case” mantra was used by the defenders of this Judiciary to justify their support the last time around in 2007.

In the intervening five years, What has this Supreme Court done for Balochistan except for freeing LeJ leader, Malik Ishaq whose militia proudly claims to have the blood of hundreds of Shia Baloch on their hands!

During the same time, this Judiciary has convicted an elected Prime Minister because he was following the Constitution.  They have gone after the sons of the Prime Minister and various other PPP leaders on the basis of hearsay and concocted evidence.  During the same five years, the Judiciary even tried to change the market dynamics of sugar prices! Anything and everything that could undermine the elected executive and legislature were dragged into the courts at the behest of insecure opposition parties that were using this politisized Judiciary for undermining an elected government.

Fact: Ali Musa Gillani, an elected MNA and the son of the Prime Minister is slandered by the same media/Judiciary tag-team on the basis of one phone that was received by an Army General.  And this media wants to con the public that the corruption allegations against CJ’s son are a conspiracy against an “independent” and “anti-establishment/Anti-Army ” judiciary.

Can wide sections of the media really expect the public to fall for the same trick, Again.

Have we learnt nothing from 2007.  Have we not learnt that inspite of PPP’s vast contributions to the cause of the first restoration, they were singled out for selective targeting by this same Judiciary.  Today, this same Judiciary and its Media cheer leaders are playing their politics on the blood of the Baloch.  Unlike the PPP, this gang of self-righteous chaunvinists and moralists are as anti-establishment as General Kyani’s cane!

No one is under any allusion that Malik Riaz is at the nexus of billions that are being made by generals, Journalists, politicians and dare we say it, Judges. Or atleast their families living under the same roof.  However, after the last week, more people are coming to the realization that this judiciary is anything but “independent”, “constitutionalist”, “fair”, “impartial” or ideologically balanced.  If anything, and as per their own admission and as per independent analysis, they stand out for being a Unified block.  Today’s  Judiciary is not very different from the right-wing Islamist parties like PML N and PTI.  Their record proves that they are simply an extension of these parties.

Today, it’s not just the Baloch but the Pashtuns, Shias, Christains, Ahmadis and Hindus who are increasingly becoming aware that their oppression is facilitated by this Judiciary.  Yes, this “anti-establishment” Judiciary is the same one that released Hafiz Saeed after he renamed his Jihadi organization.

Today, Jamaat ud Dawa is at the forefront in the regular pogroms against Ahmadiyya muslims in Pakistan but yet, we are supposed to believe that this is an anti-establishment Judiciary! While a bigot PPP MNA, Mian Mithoo oversaw the forced conversions of Hindu children, senior PPP leaders and the Sindh Provincial assembly took notice against him.  However, it was the Iftikhar Chaudhry-led misogynist Supreme Court that came to his defense in striking down a proposed legislation supported by senior PPP leaders including President Zardari’s sister that would have puished him.  So besides facilitiating coups, overseeing the rape of the Constittuion, this Judiciary will reach out to support both rapists and Islamists – even if they belong to PPP.  The “anti-establishment” and “independant” glow is getting dimmer in the light of facts.

The shenanigans of Dr. Arsalan Iftikhar and his alleged corruption and blackmailing of business tycoon Malik Riaz is a Game Of Thrones within the Establishment. Those Judges playing to the gallery and their media friends are using the misery of the Baloch for their bargaining with the military establishment- Posturing aside, what else have they achieved?

Those with any sense of history or integrity should stay away from this “prostitution of coals”

In the last four years, CJ Chaudhry has completely ignored massacre of Shias, Balochs and Pashtuns at the hands of his benefactors in Pakistan army.

The public on the other hand simply want relief.  They want relief from the approx 2.6 million cases that lie unattended in a Judicial System that is begging for reform while the Supreme Court plays Ziaist politics with its gavel and its cape.   When the PPP government passed the 18thAmendment, a significant part was related to Judicial Reform.  Here they were thwarted by rightwing PML N, a rabidly biased media and senior Bar leaders who were still caught up in their self-importance in an exaggerated struggle to reinstate four compromised and politicized judges – public servants with a Napoleonic complex.  After thwarting the PPP-lead 18 Amendment clauses for Judicial Reform, these Judges continued got to appoint and extend themselsves – in violation of internationally accepted democratic norms.

The only way forward is total judicial reform where judges rely on the Constitution and specifically on those explicit clauses that are passed by Parliament and not on the Ziaist and Musharaffian clauses that they allowed in while repeatedly bowing down to the Generals – to the establishment.   Pakistan needs a de-politisized Judiciary that is not so utterly compromised as the present lot who have bowed down to the military establishment on multiple occassions.   While allowing military dictators to distort the Constitution, they have resisted the legislature on Un-Constitutional grounds whenever vague, ambigious clauses inserted by Zia ul Haq were challenged. Third rate poets and moralists residing with corruption-infested families have no place in the Higher Judiciary

Ismail Effendi is an expat who works in the advertising sector and can be reached at ismeffendi@gmail.com

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