A Tale of Two Visits! – by Saad Mansoor

Badalta hai rung aasmaan kaisay kaisay, is a famous verse of Aatish’s couplet that has become a cliche in Urdu political writings. Yet I found out today that cliches are cliches for a reason.

The full couplet goes as follows,

zameen-e-chamn gul khilati hai kia kia,
badalta hai rang aasmaan kaise kaise!

A rough translation would be

Of kinds, flowers in the gardens bloom Of kinds, the sky changes colors

In response to this is presented another couplet by Amir Minai which is likewise now a cliche,

hoay naam war be-nishaan kaise kaise,
zameen kha gayee aasmaan kaise kaise

A rough translation would be,

Became fabled, the unknown, unnamed, The earth swallowed the skies so famed.

The couplets are timeless as we witnessed recently once again. The unknown and unnamed have gained thrones, became kings and then suffered humiliation at the behest of those who so eagerly cheered their coronation. The most recent example of this was the recent visit by the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to Quetta.

This was not his first visit, he had visited Quetta before, Quetta being his hometown. He had also visited Quetta about two years back on 31st March 2008. He was deposed at the time and came on the invitation of Balochistan Bar Association. Upon arrival he was welcomed by thousands of citizens, lawyers and women and children who had their fathers, brothers and sons taken away by the intelligence agencies. The Chief Justice was their only hope, he was their hero and had fought and lost his office for their cause the missing persons case. He had stood up against the establishment and summoned the all powerful representatives of Military Intelligence and ISI to the Supreme Court. The slogan of ‘Chief tere jaN nisar, beshumar beshumar’ echoed the main Quetta road as his caravan took hours to reach the Balochistan High Court. But this was two years ago!

On 12th June 2010, more than two years after his previous visit and more than one year after his reinstatement he visited his hometown again. This time there were no crowds, no hoards of lawyers jumping over each other to shake his hand but I guess that is understandable. You cannot expect a sitting Chief Justice to be acting like a political leader, indeed his office is above politics. The only place he can make an address is the bar associations. The Chief Justice was joined in by the Chief Justices of all four provinces. The electronic media dutifully aired his speech at the convention. What they did not air was the pictures of the audience. Why?

Because the audience was limited. A news which the media at large conveniently forgot to relay is the strike call by Balochistan Bar Association to protest his visit to the city. The sparsely populated convention venue, lack of attendance by lawyers and lack of enthusiasm was not a mere coincidence. It was a protest, a black day was the order of the day!

The same lawyers who were boycotting courts for his reinstatement are doing so to protest his arrival in the city. They are angered at his lack of interest in the missing persons case, the courts comments that the evidence against intelligence forces will not be examined and his indifference to the plight of people of Balochistan. This is not what they fought for. They had no corporate clients like the lawyers of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad with hefty fees to pay for their living but they did not appear in front of courts which they deemed unconstitutional. They did not violate the directives of their leaders of Lawyers’ Movement at the cost of personal suffering to themselves and their families. All for what?! They ask themselves today as the man who sits in the white marble mausoleum of justice has abandoned them.

The Chief Justice in his visit hoped that the lawyers community of Pakistan and Balochistan stood once for the rule of law and Constitutionalism and he expected them to do it again if need be. We salute the lawyers of Balochistan Bar Association, who have today made it clear that they will stand for rule of law, no matter the who leads the opposing forces. So Honourable sir, be careful what you wish for, lest it come true!



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