Conspiracies, hate-mongering, cynicism, criticism, scepticism and sycophancy are the hallmarks of Pakistan’s politics. In fact Pakistan’s political history is replete with palace intrigues and conspiracies. From the founder of Pakistan Qauid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah to President Asif Ali Zardari, we have witnessed great political upheavals, amid crucial crests and troughs. Neither the political mainstream, nor the judiciary or bureaucracy has ever relinquished its old bad ways—the recent upheaval is not an enigma but a de ja vu.
Democracy has never breathed a sigh of relief in 63 years of our history. Sometimes it was over shadowed by dictatorships and sometimes by the pundits of Judiciary. After Musharraf’s departure, we pleasantly observed a good sign when the Chief of Army Staff refused to interfere in political business despite several calls by the so-called democratic leaders. Unfortunately, however, judiciary once again has refused to surrender its hegemonic demeanour.
A brief look into history would reveal that Judiciary never felt ashamed to intervene in political matters. Judges of the superior courts take oath to abstain from politics but members of the Judiciary hardly seem to neither uphold this oath nor show respect for the Constitution.
Justice Munir was the first to lay the foundation of constitutional deviation. He was the one who introduced the concept of “Doctrine of Necessity” validating the dismissal of Khawaja Nazimuddin’s government by Governor General Ghulam Muhammad. In 1958 the same Justice Munir upheld General Ayub’s military take-over on the basis of the Keynesian doctrine of ’successful revolution being legal’. This was the first capitulation of Judiciary before an autocrat.
Later, Justice Anwaar ul Haq and Justice Naseem Hassan Shah bowed and nodded their heads to the uniform and in another barefaced shameful episode when Maulvi Mushtaq signed the death warrants of Bhutto, the flag-bearer of democracy, giving new lease of life to military dictators. In 1990, when Ghulam Ishaq Khan dismissed Benazir Bhutto, only Peshawar High Court reversed the decision restoring the provincial assembly – which decision was reversed when challenged in the Supreme Court.
Keeping the past history in mind Justice Sajjad Ali Shah started the trend of suo-moto cases in Pakistan. His partisan role can be recalled when he dismissed the petitions challenging 1996 dismissal of government just 3 days before the elections in February 1997. When Musharraf overthrew Nawaz Sharif, Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was one of the 12 Supreme Court judges who validated the military coup of Gen Pervez Musharraf, in the ‘Judgment on 17th Amendment and President’s Uniform Case’, and then Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was one of five Supreme Court judges who dismissed all petitions challenging General Musharraf’s constitutional amendments.
After committing these serious errors, Iftikhar Chaudhry became a ‘hero’ overnight by playing his infamous trump card of judicial freedom. Finally he succeeded in his efforts in befooling the nation. And soon after his restoration, he followed in the footsteps of his predecessors. Using all the tactics up his sleeves, he has been threatening the government sometimes in the name of NRO and sometimes by indulging in the Executive’s functions.
Despite being a symbol of justice, he has never dispensed it and it is no wonder, as how a person, himself violating the sacred document, the Constitution of Pakistan, can dispense Justice.
The Constitution of Pakistan clearly cites that every pillar of state should function within its parameters, but after the political manoeuvring of Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry it seems that new dimensions are being laid for separation of powers. Iftikhar Chaudhry has surpassed even his predecessors; he is clearly inclined to grabbing the powers of executive also. The recent decisions to axe DG FIA Waseem Ahmed and then Chairman NAB (National Accountability Bureau) Deedar Shah, leaves no ambiguity that Judiciary is violating constitutional vires.
People had physically stood up in support of Judiciary when it was in severe crisis but were not poised to fight for its vested interests or to act as dummy for establishment. They endorsed Iftikhar Chaudhry only so that he could dispense speedy justice. Even now innumerable cases are pending in lower courts. From childhood to youth and youth to death people keep on pleading their cases but fail to get justice.
I guess that the Chief justice is well aware about the popular saying that “justice delayed is justice denied”. When will the people fighting for their rights since decades get justice? Was this the destiny people had struggled for in restoration of Iftikhar Chaudhry? I am sure all of us are now ashamed of supporting another Saif-ur-Rehman.