Is the Justice Movement Over? I Hope Not.

Posted on November 16, 2008
Filed Under >Adil Najam, History, Law & Justice, Music, Pakistanis Abroad, People, Poetry, Society
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Adil Najam

Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry arrives in USA today for a speaking tour, including a visit to the Harvard Law School to receive their Medal of Freedom. One wonders if this is the last hurray for a dying cause or yet another reminder that this is a cause that refuses to die?

On the face of it, Asif Ali Zardari’s elected government has done what Gen. Pervaiz Musharraf’s military government could not. All but the most diehard have given up on the hope for the restoration of Justice Chaudhry. But is the “Justice Movement” also dead?

For Pakistan’s sake, one hopes not.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was, and remains, the face of the Justice Movement. But the Justice Movement was always bigger than him. Those who were mobilized by the movement were mobilized by much more than an ousted judge. Indeed, they were mobilized by more than just a disdain for military rule. Ultimately, they were mobilized by the idea that justice, as a concept, must prevail. That the integrity of nations flows from the integrity of its institutions. That, ultimately, the democratic spirit of a people is always more important than any leader – whether that of a judicial system, that of a military junta, or even that of an elected government.

As I had written way back on March 23, 2007:

Gen. Musharraf himself, and his supporters, view this as a conspiracy against his person. It may not be a conspiracy but his opponents certainly view this as an opportunity to bring an end – or at least seriously dent – his regime. There are, of course, also those who view – or wish to construct – Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry as an arch villain or as a supreme hero. He is probably neither, but as a man caught in the cross-hairs of history he is well aware of the pivotal role that his person plays out in this unfolding saga…

This is not just about what Gen. Musharraf did, not about how Iftikhar Chaudhry reacted; the real story is about how the citizenry of Pakistan reacted. There is little surprise in either the actions of Gen. Musharraf or the reaction of the Chief Justice. The surprise lies in how people reacted – Lawyers on the street, media in their newsrooms, bloggers in bloggistan, and ordinary citizens everywhere in their thaRRas, drawing rooms, email lists and everywhere else.

That is ultimately what matters. If this spirit can be sustained then the future of democracy in Pakistan is secure; whether it comes with or without the current setup… This has been Pakistan’s democratic moment; that I find it to be a moment worthy of celebration because it signifies that trapped inside an “undemocratic state” lies a vibrant and clearly “democratic society.”

We remain, I believe, a democratic society. We now also have an elected government. But it is not yet clear whether we are a democratic state. If we are ever to become one, then the Justice Movement must never die.

P.S. The video above is a GEO TV production based on Aitizaz Ahsan’s poem Kal, Aaj aur Kal which he had written while under house arrest. Whatever poetic merits the poem might lack it is an immensely powerful and honest political statement. So is this video. Both are powerful not only because of the sense of history that they embody, but also because of the hopes of the future that they embody.

50 responses to “Is the Justice Movement Over? I Hope Not.”

  1. sardar ashraf khan says:

    Justice Chaudry’s son, Arsalan failed in the Intermediate Examination, his result was changed and he got admission in Bolan Medical College in gross violation of merit. Later Justice Chaudry coerced the Chief Minister and forcefully got inducted as an officer of grade 17 in the Health Department of Balouchistan Government on a non existing post.
    To please his beloved son who was not happy with his job as a doctor, Justice Chaudry used his influence to get him posted in FIA headquarters against a non existing post . DG FIA protested but the Ministry told him to keep quite lest the CJP gets annoyed.
    After a while when Doctor Arsalan was not happy serving at FIA, his father ordered the Ministry to send him for training at the Police Academy Sihala. On being told that training at Sihala was meant only for formally inducted police officers, the CJP got annoyed and conveyed to the authorities that orders of the CJP were final.
    After a few weeks in Sihala, Doctor Arsalan was ill legally posted to the Punjab Police. At Lahore he started wearing police uniform without having been inducted in the police and gave himself the rank of an SP. IG Punjab protested but was advised to keep quite. The IG was ordered to send Doctor Arsalan for a foreign course to Turkey on which a senior police officer after due selection was supposed to go.
    The CJP told the Ministry of Interior to induct Arsalan in Police. He was advised that rules did not allow induction of a grade 17 officer in the police without selection through the Federal Public Service Commission. On this the Chief Justice ordered ill legal promotion of his son to grade 18 with only five months of service where as this grade is earned after a mandatory 5 years of service. Thereafter, he told the establishment to transfer him to Police as he was no more in grade 17. The establishment division objected to the ill legal demand on which the Establishment Secretary was summoned by the CJP at residence in the middle of the night and warned not to obstruct.
    The CJP visited the PM at his residence , several times, often late at night, for waiver on rules to facilitate Arsalan’s induction in the police. On being told that the PM did not have authority, the CJP got very annoyed with the PM.
    The above facts are part of the evidence available on record.
    Besides favours to his son there are other serious charges of misconduct against Chaudry.
    Justice Chaudry is a beneficiary of the public outrage against an unpopular government which was ousted through the elections. The Supreme Court at that time too refused to investigate charges against a brother judge (for self serving purpose). Charges against Justice Dogar are serious and must be investigated, preferably, in camera, by a non political body. To ensure fair play this body should also look into favours of parental love of Justice Chaudry.
    An unbiased investigation could pave the way forward and free the nation from a hostage like situation that has been created by the judicial crisis since the last two years.

  2. DuFFeR says:

    if justice movement have and end ever, the nation will have an end

  3. azaad says:

    I personally exactly feel exactly as Mahwish stated this is our country and without us it cannot be where we dream, for it to be. I think now it is time for action. This patriotism that we all seem to be so proud to show off but when it comes to doing something worth while for this land we are too scared to even get out our shed of protection.We all now have to wake up dreaming time is up.

  4. Watan Aziz says:

    The Executive wanted to dismiss the Chief. He arranged for a new straw chief to take the oath of the office. The Chief responded by standing firm and flew straight in the face of tyranny. His defiance was at the risk to his own life, liberty and property.

    In the unfolding drama, Pakistanis everywhere could see a desperate but naked grab for power. They rallied for and around the chief and denounced the tyrant.

    The year was 1999 and the chief was General Pervaiz Musharraf.

    Did you expect another chief?

    The general issued the dismissal. Posted police outside the residence. Posted police outside the court with strict orders to make sure the dismissed cannot get to the court for relief. Nevertheless, the petition did get filed and a non-Muslim Justice agreed with the dismissed. A history was made and quoted in the books about jurisprudence.

    The governor general was Ghulam Muhammad and the year was 1954 when he dismissed the first constituent assembly on the grounds that “The constituent assembly being power hungry and having a tendency of being corrupt.” The non-Muslim justice was Cornelius.

    Did you expect another general?

  5. Nida says:

    Even i agree with Anum, that giving up is not the solution, but we need to also see that this whole cheif justice situation has been prolonged and a little mis used. i feel that even this excuse is now being used by the opposition party just to make thier own standing strong!

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