Dr Shahid Masood as Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s Jan-Nisar: Dangerous portents – by Kamran Shafi

Dangerous portents
I was horrified to see recently a private TV channel advertising one of their talk shows with the blurb ‘Chief teray jan nisar…’ and then the names A.H. Pirzada, Akram Sheikh and one other that I do not recall.

The host of the show is the same person who was appointed head of PTV at a whopping salary and even more whopping perks but was sacked for reasons never fully explained, turning fiercely anti-federal government and all who sail in it.

In the event I could not see the first part of the programme for I was entertaining guests at the time so I do not know if the two gentlemen named in the advertising ticker appeared on the show. But I did manage to catch Imran Khan and Qazi Anwar, in the closing minutes, fulminating wildly against the government, 18th Amendment and all.

Now then, whilst it is no business of mine what anyone says about any government or person or matter, it is my bounden duty to protest the use of the chief justice’s name to push a TV talk show. Remember that ‘Chief teray jan nisar, beshumar, beshumar’ was one of the slogans coined during the movement to restore the superior judiciary, and one that I myself have shouted until I went hoarse.

My Lord the Chief Justice was particularly mentioned in the slogan because he it was that took the brave step of facing down an army dictator and his boorish flunkeys. We must remember too that some of those who are now professing (or are alleged) to be My Lord’s jan nisars are the same who were Dogar’s jan nisars during the days he was the so-called chief justice. They appeared in Dogar’s court, when the restored judiciary was incarcerated along with their families and protesting lawyers had boycotted the higher courts. To add insult to injury, one of their number is Ahmad Raza Kasuri who was the Commando’s own lawyer when the dictator was at loggerheads with the CJ. Can you believe any of this, reader?

Let me say that whilst I continue to be a jan nisar of an independent judiciary, I also stand unequivocally on the side of the people’s will as expressed by their representatives in parliament, of the rule of law, of a kind and gentle state which looks after all of its people no matter of which religious denomination or creed.

Whilst I stand for complete freedom of expression, I will loudly object when media houses deliberately goad organs of the state onto a collision course as seems to be happening right now. It is time for all concerned to step back, take two deep breaths, and live and let live.

A word of appreciation for COAS Kayani’s apology for the loss of innocent life in the recent Khyber air raid. This is the way it ought to be: an organ of government sending a clear signal that it is not so high and mighty that it cannot take responsibility for a wrong committed. Mayhap the air chief should also apologise, as should the government in the ministry of defence. Well, come to think of it, why not the president and the prime minister too?

Which reminds me. What’s with the ludicrous new-fangled badges of rank that the Pakistan Air Force is wearing instead of the old ones — elegant stripes worn by air forces across the world? Apart from looking like an imitation of one of the Gulf states’ badges of rank, they are cluttered and busy to the point of making one’s eyes crossed! Talking of which reminds me again — what is this girlie brocade tassels-and-sash nonsense that has replaced the Sam Browne belt worn with the service dress by army officers?

The higher the rank the more girlie it gets. Looks absolutely absurd if you ask me. By the way, if anyone says the two changes have been made because the old uniform was a holdover from colonial days I shall scream. Get rid of the trouser too then; and of the beret and the peak-cap, and into shalwars and turbans….

A short excerpt from this newspaper of April 6. “Accusing the army and Rangers of being involved in ‘blatant water theft’, the Punjab irrigation department has urged the chief minister to ‘immediately take up the matter at appropriate level’.

“Water theft has become a serious issue over the past two decades and is seriously affecting canal operations and equitable distribution of water. Theft by influential people at the head-reaches results in water shortage and deprives the poor farmers at the tail of these channels. Against this backdrop, water theft by state agencies robs the department of any moral authority to go after small farmers.”

The summary goes on to cite specific cases and has named the formations/units involved, alleging that in Bahawalpur Zone alone, 356 cusecs of water is being stolen every day. Detailing instances of water theft in other divisions, the summary states that Okara and Sheikhupura are also affected with this theft going on there too.

It also gives details of an incident in which army soldiers first abused and then “took away” for a time a sub divisional officer, when a party of police and irrigation department officials came to close an unauthorised outlet in Bahawalpur. The summary points out that the stolen water irrigates encroached lands, and that because more land is encroached upon every year, more water is required resulting in a still higher incidence of water theft.

First, the secretary of the irrigation department of the Punjab should be congratulated, not only for authoring as clear a summary as this one, he should also be appreciated for having the plain guts to call a spade a spade.

Second, the case must be dealt with in the manner that any case is dealt with by the canal magistrate who should impose exact same penalties on the so-called contractors as he would on an ordinary farmer. I have farmed too and remember well how unthinkable it was to lay pipes and steal canal water!

Next, the army formations/units/Rangers involved should immediately desist from such commercial activity. It should be realised that the army particularly has earned itself a very bad name indeed due to other such ‘non-martial’ pursuits such as baking bread and pastries, and selling tikka-kababs out of officer’s messes, case in point: the artillery mess in Rawalpindi.


Dawn, 20 Apr, 2010

Related article:

Constitutional amendments can’t be challenged in Supreme Court: Aitzaz Ahsan

18 responses to “Dr Shahid Masood as Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s Jan-Nisar: Dangerous portents – by Kamran Shafi”

  1. Indeed, the passage of Eighteenth Amendment is PPP’s great victory. Many political actors are active today. They were of the view that President Zardari will fortify by weakening the Parliament. They failed in their aspirations… The PPP has cleared the mess of Zia-ul-Haq and other dictators. Everyman coming on the TV considers himself a political actor. We ask them to go and test their fates in the elections. The past dictators earned bad name to the country, while the PPP sanitized the Constitution by repealing their amendments and created history. Some anti-democratic elements are active again to maligned PPP’s achievements regarding restoration of constitution to its original shape.