Ansar Abbasi, the undeclared spokesperson of Iftikhar Chaudhry – by Ahmed Iqbalabadi

Is Ansar Abbasi a journalist or is he the chief spokesperson of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry?

Let us have a quick look at today’s daily Jang (1 May 2010) and you see his two analyses on the front page.

One is about the PPP being alone in the fight against the Supreme Court on the 18th Amendment, and the other about the planned retirement of Suhail Ahmed, Chairman FBR because of the downgrading from 22nd grade to 21st grade by the Supreme Court.

To readers’ misfortune, the same stories are published in the English version of Jang, i.e. The News.

The first story titled “Supreme Court kee tazheek, Peoples Party tanha hoti ja rahee hay” talks about the clear cut decision of the PML-N to accept whatever verdict that is passed by the Supreme Court on the 18th Amendment.

You can easily guess who is saying this on behalf of PML-N: none other than Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. The man has at a number of times tried to sabotage the process of constitutional amendments. He was firstly member of the Constitutional Reforms Committee but then resigned citing the reason of “lack of sincerity of the government in bringing the reforms”.

I can imagine the heart break Chaudhry Nisar must have had while voting not against the 18th Amendment. The other party who will accept any decision on the 18th Amendment is PML-Q, led by the erstwhile former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain.  I need not comment on Chaudhry Shujaat’s credentials on switching sides. Then Ansar Abbasi continues with MQM’s tacit support to any decision on the 18th Amendment with the notion that “MQM will not question the Supreme Court”. Who wants to question a crazy dictator in a black gown nowadays? Regarding ANP and JUI-F, Ansar Abbasi believes that they will “prefer to remain in the background” like always leaving the PPP in the middle.

The other story is titled “Grade 21 may tanazzuli – Chairman FBR ka retirement per ghaur”

The sub headline talks about the Supreme Court judgment being against the procedure adopted by the Prime Minister and not against the bureaucracy.

Chairman FBR was not one of the civil servants who were given an out of turn promotion. He was there in the top of those waiting to be promoted. In any case, he will remain safe, but what is interesting to note is the change in tone of Ansar Abbasi.

Firstly, this is a way of shifting the blame to the Prime Minister and giving the civil servants a feeling that the CJP is not against you. Off course, governments come and go, but the civil servants remain there in one position or the other. The CJP and Ansar Abbasi are aware of this predicament, hence you see a certain change of tone. I would also like to point out the sinister motive of only interviewing Suhail Ahmed and somehow making him say that he is considering early retirement. With the Federal Budget -2010-11, just one month away, and a very important piece of taxation, Value Added Tax (VAT) to be introduced, an early retirement by the Chairman FBR would hold all plans to introduce any new fiscal initiative of the government. Firstly, the government will not be able to appoint a Chairman FBR if Suhail Ahmed opts to retire (which I doubt he would).

And secondly, if a new chairman is appointed, he would not have the courage to introduce the VAT system where he eventually knows that the stories of the likes of Ansar Abbasi will lead to a Suo Moto action from the publicity hungry CJP.

Ansar Abbasi has to clearly decide if he wants to be the spokesperson of Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry or wants to be a journalist. The public must also decide that the state has to function and it can only function with well functioning government. The civil servants are the cogs in that machinery that allows the state to function. The government on the other hand must continue its efforts to muster public support on the matter of 18th Amendment. The government’s biggest constituency is its voters and not the 17 judges of the Supreme Court and a few self righteous journalists like Ansar Abbasi.

One must also question why till now the Supreme Court has chosen not to instigate contempt of court action against the government and the political forces. I strongly believe that the CJP will never start these actions as it will give the political parties the chance to have field day in the court.



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