Justice Chaudhry returns!

iftakharWASHINGTON DIARY: Justice Chaudhry returns
by Dr Manzur Ejaz, USA
March 17th, 2009
Courtesy and Thanks: Daily Times
The restoration of Justice Chaudhry may neutralise him as a symbol of the movement for justice and equality. However, on closer examination, for the masses supporting the independence of judiciary, the concept of equality and justice is about more than placing independent judges in the superior courts.

In an earlier column, I had argued that the system will not be in equilibrium and stabilise unless the demand for the restoration of the deposed judiciary is not met. (“The basic contradiction”, Daily Times, March 4) So as Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and the other deposed judges get ready to return to their seats, it must be remembered that the entire movement was a catalyst for a much broader agenda, not just the reinstatement of a few judges.

Therefore, if the ruling elites do not want any more long marches, they should realise that, ultimately, this was about the citizens’ desire for justice and equity in the system.

If we identify a conflict as the basic contradiction in a system, further developments will also be shaped by this contradiction until the system reaches equilibrium. In the political system of Pakistan, Justice Chaudhry highlighted the contradiction between state and society in March 2007 by defying General-President Pervez Musharraf. The lawyers’ movement that followed shook the system to such an extent that the establishment had to let major political leaders return to the country and rein in the movement that had started to threaten the system in many ways.

The PMLN, led by Nawaz Sharif, played to the right side of this conflict by supporting the lawyers, and was rewarded in Punjab.

This area, especially central Punjab, due to its demography, has been leading emerging political trends in Pakistan since the late 1960s. This area votes on the basis of ideology, manifestos and issues, than on personalities, and as a result has produced surprising and unpredictable results. In the 1971 elections, Bhutto registered a massive, unexpected victory in this area. Similarly, in 2008, even nominal candidates of the PMLN defeated stronger opponents from other parties.

On the contrary, the PPP had been wavering on the issue of the judiciary. The party should have read the writing on the wall, especially when its old base in Punjab did not vote for it despite the strong sympathy wave after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. After coming to power, by embracing the cause of the judiciary, the PPP could have regained some lost ground, but instead it chose to fight it out even at the risk of losing further political ground to its opponents, especially the PMLN.

Most of the PPP’s management, many of whom had never run for an elected position, did not gauge the public sentiment. They continue to treat politics as a game where competitors could be defeated with false promises and manipulations. Every trick was employed to scuttle the restoration of the chief justice but with no success in the end. If the PPP continues to undermine the chief justice after his restoration, it will further alienate itself from the masses and accelerate its decline.

The restoration of Justice Chaudhry may neutralise him as a symbol of the movement for justice and equality. However, on closer examination, for the masses supporting the independence of judiciary, the concept of equality and justice is about more than placing independent judges in the superior courts. The people want justice in every sphere of life, including more equitable distribution of wealth and equal access to services like electricity and health.

If the chief justice takes back his seat without any further government ploys to undo his powers, the basic contradiction in the system will be partially resolved. It will also provide reprieve to the ruling elites to get their act together and address the fundamental issues facing people every day. However, if governance continues to be perceived as a game, the contradiction will re-emerge with greater force.

To identify the catalyst of such a future movement is difficult. In March 2007, no one could have predicted that a nationwide movement would be led by the lawyers in response to the general-president’s attempted sacking of the CJ. Despite the lessons in this episode for the political leadership of the country, most probably, they will continue with their cynical politics with an unstable society vulnerable to destructive elements.

Pakistan’s political elites need to re-evaluate their approach, because the state machinery is creaking, and some parts are already falling apart. The way the police interacted with the long marchers in Lahore on Sunday should be an eye-opener for those who think they can get any job done using the coercive arms of the state. The PPP should tread carefully because it is losing many of its traditional constituencies rapidly.
Courtesy and Thanks: Daily Times March, 18, 2009
The writer can be reached at manzurejaz@yahoo.com
Courtesy: Wichaar.com

One thought on “Justice Chaudhry returns!”

  1. Nawaz Sharif Saheb, undemocratically, at the Gun Point, with the unprecedented support of Security forces of Pakistan, forced the elected President of Pakistan to Bow down before the Lahori Mob, to restore a .. CJ.
    This is the same Nawaz Sharif who used MOB force to oust a Sindhi CJ from Supreme court.
    Pakistan, due to Sharif’s policy is moving fast to its destiny of disintegration.

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