The following is an excellent example of a good Sindhi debate on the restoration of judiciary that really enriches the mind. It shows the finer differences between various point of views in an intelligent way with excellent articulation.
-Suraya Makhdoom, U.K, email@example.com
Sindhis shouldn’t feel depressed, sad and defeated by the restoration of pre Nov 2007 Judiciary, including the reinstatement of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohd Choudhry. The said judiciary was illegally and highhandedly removed by the dictator General Musharraf and the struggle, which included long marches, had started from that very day. Hence initially, it was a struggle against Musharraf and his dictatorial policies. Almost all the opposition political forces, including PPP, supported that struggle at that time. Would you deny that late Shaheed Benazir marched up to Justice Choudhry’s dwellings and declared him as the Chief Justice of Pakistan? Restoration of judiciary was an election manifesto of many parties, including PML-N and PPP, who also entered into an alliance to that effect.
But after the 2008 election, PPP backed off its promise and delayed the issued under legal and constitutional wrangling. Zardari, thus, took upon himself to fight the battle of a dictator, which made the struggle look like directed against him.
The struggle for the restoration of judiciary is not a Punjab struggle or Punjab cause; it is a struggle of a vast majority, if not all the people, including Sindhis, who supported this cause from day 1. As a nation and as apeople, Sindhis have proud traditions to support the cause of justice and the oppressed. We should be proud of our principled stance. Many Sindhi people and parties/organisations are a part of that struggle and have given their lives for it. Hence the restoration of Justice Iftikhar is a triumph for Sindhis as well.
I accept, Sindh and Sindhis do not fare well even under the so called democratic or the legal set-up, even under the party they elect, at least they too will get some redress from an independent judiciary. Chief Justice Iftikhar’s suo motto action for Sindhis have already been mentioned by Saeen M.K. Sial. I will just add that in 2006 he also took suo moto notice against the extra judicial killing of an innocent Sindhi labourer Rasool Bux Brohi. Chief Justice Choudhry also stopped the privatisation of Steel Mills. He has worked in Sindh and I think he may be speaking beautiful Sindhi, which gives him more insight into Sindh issues.
Sindhis, therefore, have more reasons to be cheerful than sad. They are part of this victory and should be proud of it. Zardari’s own party, PPP is part of that struggle and they too deserve to celebrate. After all, it’s their late leader’s dream come true.
An independent judiciary is an essential pillar of democracy. Had there been strong judicial traditions in the past and had the judiciary not been under the control of the rulers, Z.A. Bhutto might not have been killed and Dictator Ziaul Haque wouldn’t have won the right to rule under a dictatorship on the premise of the law of necessity. So also consider this: Sindhis and other oppressed people, like Balouchs, etc. may get less under an independent judiciary, they are the worst sufferers under a controlled one. Therefore, who know, this judiciary may even prove beneficial to Zardari and his government in the long run.
However, as I said above, Sindhis hardly get the due share of fairness, which makes our struggle continuous. So we should also demand justice for Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, who too suffered at the hands of the establishment.
As about the unceremonious send-off to Justice Dogar, well what could you expect since he was appointed to replace the one who was removed under emergency? I don’t think if he were Punjabi his fate would have been any different.
About the slogans against Mr. Zardari. Let me just add that Zardari is the President of Pakistan, and as such all Pakistanis have a democratic right to protest against him. In an ideal situation, the slogans shouldn’t be derogatory, but in a mass demo, mob atmosphere, any slogans are possible. People, including Sindhis have been chanting similar type of slogans against almost all the rulers, like Musharraf, Ziaul Haque and Yehya Khan since long time.
Other slogans, as per your claims “Sindhiyon pe Lanat” are of course wrong and should be condemned and I think should be brought to the attention of the political leadership in Punjab as well as the Lawyers leadership and I’m sure they will condemn the same too. However, isn’t it a fact that even the seasoned speakers, let alone the masses of Sindhis, Balouchs and others condemn the Punjabi military, Punjabi bureaucracy and Punjabi establishment every now and then?
Regarding military not complying with the wishes of a ‘Sindhi president’ to stop the long march (so called, as you term it) on the capital by deploying army. I think this is a very good development that army is not interfering in politics and not taking action against civilians by the government orders. Late Z.A. Bhutto committed the same mistake by involving army to crack down on the opposition, which ended in his own downfall. So I think Mr. Zardari as well as his supporters and well wishers should learn from it. As said earlier, long marches, protests, etc., are a norm of democracy. No democratic country deploys army to control the protesters. Police are there to keep law and order, but not to stop people from protesting.
About Nawaz Sharif’s billions and other deeds, let the people and courts take action. His party has been elected by the people of Punjab and as such, their verdict should be accepted. Let the corruption cases against all the politicians be dealt with by the independent judiciary where every gets a fair trial and a right to appeal.
You have also spoken about the new petroleum policy and how the federal government has rejected Sindh’s concerns. Well, who is in the Federal government? Has Nawaz Sharif or Shahbaz Sharif asked or pressurised the Zardari government to ignore such concerns? This simply shows a lack of interest of the PPP government in the issues of Sindh. They have taken the people of Sindh for granted and would not hesitate to do anything which strengthens their power at the cost of Sindh.
Shouldn’t you be demanding from the Zardari government to address this and other issues, instead of mourning the death of controlled judiciary? There are many other Sindh issues, which the present PPP government has failed to tackle both at the provincial as well as the federal level. Saeen Sarfaraz has already quoted a write up in this regard. I too would point out some more issues, but at a later time, as this write up is already quite lengthy and focuses mainly on addressing your concerns over the victory of an independent judiciary.
Finally, Saeen MK Sial has rightly raised the issue of a possible deal of between PML-Q and Mr. Zardari to tackle PML-N. If it does happen, it will by yet another nail in the coffin of Sindhis’ trust, which Zardari already violated by entering into an alliance with MQM. As Mr Sial has already analysed, PML-Q is of course more harmful for not only Sindhi, but for Balouchs, Pathans and others as well. Nawaz Sharif has made a lot of mistakes in the past, but you may appreciate that he refused to cut deals with dictatorial and ant-people forces, like Musharraf, MQM or PML-Q. He extended co-operation to PPP, which worked for some time. He is still not looking up to those forces for support.
On the basis of all the above, I think Sindhis should be more focussed on issues rather than on the personalities. Of course, one should raise one’s voice if somebody, including people in high offices are being victimised because they are Sindhis or belong to other oppressed group, but it’s not so in the case in question.