Judges To Be Reinstated, Says Nawaz. But What Does That Mean?

Posted on May 2, 2008
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Law & Justice, Politics
42 Comments
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Adil Najam

Illustration by Abro @ FlickrATP has closely followed, what is now called the “Judicial Crisis”, carefully and with grave concern from its very beginning. We have been sad when things went wrong, been elated when they things went right, and rejoiced at the democratic sentiment that has often been expressed through this movement. In all cases, we have struggled to find the deeper meaning in all of this for the future of politics in Pakistan.

We have remained quiet on this in recent days, not because we have lost interest – far from it, we have been glued to the news on this – but because it has not at all been clear what is really happening and where things are really going on this issue. There is too much “noise’ and not enough “signal” in what is being said or heard about the issue.

Iftikhar Chaudhry and Chaudhry Aitizaz Ahsan

The news today seems unambiguous. But one is really not sure if it is. Supposedly, the PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif has proclaimed that a resolution will be tabled on May 12 for the restoration of the judges who were removed and an agreement to this effect has been reached with the PPP and the other coalition partners. We certainly hope it is so.

But details on exactly how the restoration will happen and what the “package” will be, remain sketchy. To be fair, that has to be so at this stage. But, also to be fair, given the roller coaster ride we have all been through, we are going to hold our breath on this for just a little longer. At least till May 12. To find out clearly and in detail what this means, for whom, and how. We hope for the best for the country. But we will keep our fingers crossed. At least for now.

According to The News, this is the situation:

The resolution in connection with judges’s restoration will be presented in the Parliament on May 12, said PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif here on Friday. Addressing a meeting of Central Working Committee, Nawaz Sharif said agreement with Pakistan People’s Party Co-chairman, Asif Ali Zardari has been reached on judges reinstatement and the deposed judges will be restored on May 12 through a resolution to November 2 position. Nawaz Sharif said he tried to convince Asif Zardari during Dubai talks that they should stay united to keep the military away from politics. “I also made it clear that if judges are not restored the PML-N would no longer by part of the cabinet,” he added. He proposed to PPP Co-chairman to strike down seventeenth amendment of the Constitution and to impeach the President Pervez Musharraf. He said a 5-member committee comprising Aitezaz Ahsan, Khawaja Haris, Fakhruddin G. Ibrahim, Hafeez Pirzada and Mian Raza Rabbani will give final shape to the draft resolution for judges’ restoration. The committee will complete its working on constitutional package in the next four to five days, Nawaz Sharif informed.

The Associated Press, however, starts its story a little differently:

Pakistan’s leaders have set May 12 as the date to restore judges ousted by President Pervez Musharraf, a top official said Friday, further threatening Musharraf’s already diminished grip on power. Restoring the judges has been a top priority for the two main parties in Pakistan’s month-old government, but disputes over how to bring the judges back had threatened to break up the ruling coalition. After marathon talks in Dubai this week, coalition officials finally came to a deal.

It does seem that the Associated Press is showing more hesitancy than Nawaz Sharif actually did. Maybe, because they also quote some others who are less sanguine about what may or may not happen on May 12:

Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, a former minister and prominent Musharraf ally, predicted the coalition’s plan would run into legal problems. A constitutional amendment was required to reverse Musharraf’s purge of the courts, he said. “Forget the judges. Even a low-ranking official cannot be restored by such a resolution,” Ahmad said.

… Bringing the judges back bodes ill for the unpopular president, who seized power from Sharif in a 1999 military coup. The judges could also revisit Musharraf’s disputed re-election. Even if they don’t, some argue the humiliation of the judges returning could prompt Musharraf to resign.

Musharraf would have to be “absolutely shameless” to continue as president if the judges come back, said Khawaja Asif, a key Sharif aide. He said Musharraf also risked impeachment. The coalition parties have been trying to turn the tables on the president since they routed his supporters in February elections on an anti-Musharraf platform.

The PPP, led by Asif Ali Zardari, the widower and political successor of Benazir Bhutto, wanted to link the restoration of the judges to a broader package of judicial reforms. But Sharif had urged the restoration be kept separate. Sharif said Friday that the package was still no more than a set of “proposals” and that the parties legal experts would continue to work on it. The reforms could crimp the tenure and powers of Chaudhry, who had shown an unusual degree of independence in the past, including probing complaints that Pakistan’s spy agencies were holding opposition activists secretly.

Musharraf had accused Chaudhry of corruption and conspiring against Pakistan’s gradual return to democracy. Zardari, meanwhile, has said Chaudhry and other judges were “playing politics” and failed to deliver justice to him during the years he spent in jail on unproven corruption charges. Sharif said he would never accept Musharraf as president even if he agreed to give up his power to dissolve the parliament — another key target of the ruling coalition. “We will not accept him even if he accepts everything,” he said. “His illegal and unconstitutional status cannot change until he gives up his office.”

Meanwhile, the news in general is a welcome one. It shows progress and in the right direction. Lets all keep an eye on where things go from here.What is clear, however, is that the saga is far from completed. ATP – like the rest of Pakistan – will keep watching with interest.

42 responses to “Judges To Be Reinstated, Says Nawaz. But What Does That Mean?”

  1. Babar says:

    But you never know. Conspiracy theories happen to come true an alarming number of times in Pakistan.

  2. Babar says:

    Abrar Bhai,
    There are rumors that they went to Dubai to be away from the purview of the Intelligence Agencies. However, it is quite likely that our intelligence is active in Dubai as well. I personally do not believe this viewpoint.

  3. zafar says:

    As far as common man is concerned, the judges issue is of no consequence.There are enough problems rather more so given the decline of industries and economy in general.I suggest that judges issue be put on shelves as it’s a potential hazard to the latest coalition govt.

  4. faisal says:

    How can a judge go out meeting politicians to restore him to his job claim to be unbiased and judicious? I recently saw retired justice Wajeehuddin on TV condemning the Chudhry for meeting Zardari in Aitizaz’s company.

    As far as I am concerned, chief justice has to be a person of character and his record unblemished.

  5. Abrar Bhai says:

    Why did the 2 went all they way to Dubai to have this meeting? What was wrong with meeting in Islamabad?

    Are they nuts or what?

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