One man can do wonders, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court proved that. His 8 years in the Supreme Court shook the foundations of the un-challengeable rule of Riyasati Ashrafiya in Pakistan.
Starting from March 9, 2007 and till his second restoration, and even after that I wrote many an article on various aspects of political and constitutional crisis facing Pakistan, and as the Honorable Chief Jistice retires this December 12, I will be posting / sharing some of the writings I penned during this period.
Here is one incomplete piece which I wrote on July 13, 2008.
Asif Ali Zardari - General Zia Incarnate
How keen was the observation of Senator Mushahid Husain Secretary General of PML (Q), when he likened Mr. Asif Ali Zardari, Co-Chairman of PPP, to General Zia-ul-Haq, a military dictator who ruled over Pakistan from 1977 to 1988 till his death in a military helicopter crash. While responding to a question why PPP is flip-flopping on the issue of deposed judges’ restoration, he said Mr. Zardari’s politics is surprisingly similar to that of General Zia who used to create uncertainty regarding the crucial issues and never committed himself to a clear point of view on that issue. Second, he used to drag the issue hoping that the time factor would make miracles.
The most crucial issue that needs to be addressed urgently by the government is the fate of General (Retired) Musharraf’s unconstitutional acts of November 3 last as a result of which about 60 judges of superior courts were deposed and detained in their houses. The lawyers’ community and Pakistani civil society are on the streets demanding their restoration. In addition, in February 18 elections, a major part of the Pakistani electorate voted for the ouster of General (Retired) Musharraf and deposed judges’ restoration. The same demand was the election slogan of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz Sharif) which swept in the majority province Punjab. It bagged 73 National Assembly seats mostly from Punjab, and 91 seats in the Punjab Assembly. This clearly shows cogency of the demand.
Then, the two major parties, PPP and PML (N), traditionally considered arch rivals, made a coalition both in the center and Punjab province. As reiterated time and time again, and as embodied in the Murree Declaration of March 9, 2008, the PML (N) leadership accepted the federal ministries on the condition of restoration of the deposed judges within 30 days of the forming of federal government. But Mr. Zardari and his party men made a joke of those 30 days that passed without taking any step towards the restoration. However, it was the patience of PML (N) leadership that they kept on negotiating with the defiant and deviant PPP leadership, and again a deadline was announced.
That deadline of May 12 also went with the wind. Quite naturally, PML (N) federal ministers quit the ministries and the formal negotiation on the issue of restoration stopped. The whole blame is on the new leadership of PPP and especially on the person of Mr. Zardari, virtually the lone heir of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s and Benzir Bhutto’s political legacy.
Now when he has got PML (N) off the board, he is playing dilly-dallying with the lawyers’ movement. Still there are no clear signs from the PPP leadership whether the party is prepared to restore the deposed judges to their due positions with grace and honor, or not. Every now and then, a new move is seen floating on the scene on behalf of the PPP leaders, such as federal law minister Farooq H. Naek, Senator Sardar Latif Khosa, and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gillani himself. While attending the World Economic Forum Middle East meeting in Egypt, he made a very controversial statement. He said: The problem is that we have one post of Chief Justice while there are two claimants of the same post. This is really characteristic of PPP new leadership: create so much confusion around the issue so that it gets blurred. Also, generate artificial and unreal issues out of the original and real one.
[This incomplete piece was written on July 13, 2008.]