In a world with an intellectual history of seven thousand years behind it, where do Pakistanis stand, what are they doing, what do they aspire to be, and what ought they to be doing? This Blog takes Notes of all of that ...
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.
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.
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
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
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
[This incomplete piece was written
on July 13, 2008.]
“The military use of
children takes three distinct forms: children can take direct part in
hostilities (child soldiers), or they can be used in support roles such as
porters, spies, messengers, look outs; or they can be used for political
advantage either as human shields or in propaganda.”
Which category Bilawal Bhutto
Zardari’s or Aseefa Bhutto Zardari’s political use by Pakistan Peoples Party or
Asif Ali Zardari falls in?
The last temptation of
Asif Ali Zardari
When good government prevails men of little worth
submit to men of great worth. When bad government prevails men of little power
submit to men of great power.
[Mencius, c. 300 BC]
A good government produces citizens distinguished for
courage, love of justice, and every other good quality; a bad government makes
them cowardly, rapacious, and the slave of every foul desire.
[Dionysius of Halicarnassus,
c. 20 BC]
In rivers and bad governments the lightest things swim
at the top.
Self-interest runs supreme. It
is natural and logical. However, it is market that discovers and maintains a
beautiful balance between clashing self-interests. Voluntary exchanges in the
market where all the parties involved seek their own interest ultimately benefit
all the parties. Otherwise, if any one fears to incur harm or loss, the
exchange does not take place. This is how self-interest of one individual takes
care of other individuals’ interest. It is in this perspective that the science
of economics has been defined as the study of how and how not we fulfill our
But what about the science of
politics! Is there no market here that creates a balance between clashing
self-interests? If not, why? No doubt,
politics has a flourishing market, especially in developing countries where
political self-interest both immediately and in the long run results in the
fulfillment of economic self-interests of the elite classes. In clear contrast
to the economic market, in these countries political market is more distorted.
It has scant voluntary exchanges. It has lies, frauds, deceptions, coercion,
manipulation, exploitation, and huge corruption rampant in its bazaars. In
fact, there no rule reigns supreme but the personal rules.
As matter of fact, after the
fall of Soviet Union, opening up of economic markets, particularly in
developing countries, took a swift turn. But no doubt the opening up of
political markets could not run at the same pace. Rather, there prevailed a stubborn
rigidity. The elite classes which had monopolized the political markets would
never allow them to be free to others. This helped them keep their hold intact
on monopolized closed national economic markets whether through de-regulating
or regulating these markets. Pakistan is the best example of such a country.
Ironically, it is through
this mechanism of de-regulation and regulation that the elite classes permitted
a sort of ‘trickling down’ that kept the poverty steam of the people
controlled. This brought temporary phases of artificial prosperity to various
sections of society. And, this helped the elite classes to keep their
monopolization of political markets undisturbed and running smoothly. Again,
Pakistan excelled in that.
However, as there is always a
Moses to a Pharaoh, most of the sections that prospered on de-regulation of the
economic markets were able to see the real face of the Pharaohs. This real face
is their elitist politics, controlled and distorted democracy, and fake
constitutionalism. It was revealed to them that in the political market, there
are no rules. They found out that though there is much fanfare on the issue of
constitution, it is merely a plaything for the elite classes. It has nothing to
do with the rules of the political game being played in Pakistan since its
This real knowledge was
manifested somehow in the person of Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, honorable Chief
Justice of Pakistan. Such real knowledge is always threatening to the interests
of elite classes and their rule. The first person who somehow smelled this
danger first or reacted to it first was General (retired) Pervez Musharraf. This
made us witness to the fateful episode of the year 2007, the March 9, where the
real knowledge and the vested interests collided. Rest is known to us all.
Later on, after the murder of
Benazir Bhutto and February 18 elections, the relay race of protecting the
interests of the elite classes changed hands. General Musharraf handed over the
torch to Asif Ali Zardari, who had just won a political lottery to the Co-Chairmanship
of Pakistan Peoples Party which otherwise would have gone to the share of his
wife. This torch was a symbol that represented the knowledge of threat to the
elite classes. What is happening to this day is proof enough that Asif Ali
Zardari is running well like an experienced racer.
It is this sort of political
market where there are no rules of game observed and enforced that temptations
abound. Also, it is such a market where no rules of game are permitted to be
enforced and observed that temptations come true. Really, in a country where
there is no constitution and no regard for it in the elite classes; where there
is no rule of law and no regard for it in the elite classes; where there is no
independent judiciary and no regard for it in the elite classes; such a country
is a perfect example of monopolized political market that serves the economic
interests of the elite classes best.
In such a perfectly distorted
political market, the temptations are not only abundant but irresistible. Here
we have money-whitening schemes, concessions, rebates, tax holidays, SROs, loan
write-offs in the economic realm and all that to benefit the elite classes. In
the political realm, we have suspension of rules, under-hand deals, pardons, and
NROs and all that to benefit the elite classes. This makes Pakistan a
thoroughly monopolized political market.
Sure, if there is a
constitution which is respected by all persons and enforced equally to all
persons and situations without any suspension, abeyance, crooked amendments and
abrogations; if there is rule of law which treats all equally without making
any discrimination between them on any count; if there is an independent
judiciary which takes its inspiration from the constitution, keeps its letter
and spirit sacred to its heart, plays as its real custodian in every situation,
and never bows to the whims of both dictators and elected rulers and their mala
fide amendments; in such a political market though the existence of temptations
and those who are susceptible to these temptations may not be ruled out,
however, it may be ensured there that temptations are scarce and those who go
after them be not rewarded, but duly punished.
This perspective helps us
understand what’s going on in the present day Pakistan. It’s a fight and that
too a neck-deep fight between the representatives of the elite classes and the
people. The most deceptive factor and character in this battlefield is that of the
political parties, especially Pakistan Peoples Party. They do politics in the
name of people but indeed they just use them to further their economic and
political interests. Previously, PPP’s Chairperson Benazir Bhutto used her
party’s clout to create “new temptations” for her own benefit which manifested
in her deal with General (retired) Musharraf, and that was in addition to the
existing elitist temptations. After her, it is Asif Ali Zardari who is
safeguarding not only his own and his family’s interests but also the interests
of the elite classes of Pakistan. It needs no mention of his party’s interests.
In his person, it may be his very personal and private temptation what he
gained in consequence of the NRO, but on the social plane, he represents the
elite classes of Pakistan and is protecting their interests.
Thus, it must be clear to us
that for Asif Ali Zardari consolidating NRO, maintaining the status quo by not
restoring the thrown away judges, or restoring them by keeping the PCOed judges
along with them in the same courts, by making the judiciary pliant, pro-elite
and anti-people by way of the ‘Constitutional Package,’ may be his last
temptation, but for the elites of Pakistan it is not their last temptation.
That is why it makes the rule
of law movement so important and so decisive to the fate of us, the people of
Pakistan. It requires that we should clearly recognize who are our friends and
who are our enemies. We should realize that it is rule of games for which we
must stand up beyond our affiliation be it to caste, clan, ethnicity,
community, sect, religion, party or any other thing. It is supremacy of the
rule of games, or the constitution, that will ensure our fundamental rights to
us; it is an independent judiciary that will ensure dignity and justice to us.
A political party which does not favor restoration of the judges, supremacy of
the constitution and rule of law can never ensure us our fundamental rights,
dignity and justice. Only guarantee for the security of our fundamental rights,
dignity and justice is supremacy of the constitution and not the parliament, an
independent judiciary, and rule of law. We must stand up for the judges, who
were thrown away on November 3 last, to get back in their courts to move fast
in that direction. That is simple and straight!