TO reach for Yeats when things fall apart is the easy part.

Making sense of it all, like Yeats’s The Second Coming, is much harder. Yet, try we must.

When CJ Iftikhar was restored to his throne, the country he surveyed looked like something out of The Second Coming: the blood-dimmed tide had been loosed; the ceremony of innocence was drowned; and the best lacked all conviction while the worst were full of passionate intensity. Pakistan needed fixing.

So, with the winds of history at his back and a messianic zeal in his heart, CJ Iftikhar set out to remake Pakistan, to start a new chapter.

CJ Iftikhar was right: Pakistan needed fixing and a new chapter was about to begin. Where he got it wrong was what was coming next.

His imagination doubtless fired by the possibilities of the post-partisan lawyers’ movement, CJ Iftikhar set out to create a new order just as disorder was establishing itself as the dominant theme of our times.

The end of the Musharraf era had helped obscure the truth. It was difficult to see at the time that what was collapsing was not just another era of military rule but the old order itself, the old centre.

While Pakistan had always been a messy country, the presence of a powerful army-led establishment had lent a predictability to the affairs of the state: no one really knew how to fix Pakistan but everyone knew their place in the scheme of things, for the most part.

In the era of disorder, however, everyone questioned the place allocated to them — and there was no one to make anyone agree to what was asked of them.

The old centre — the army — had seen its security paradigm unravel and a mediocre leadership struggle to regain control.

New power centres, the media and the judiciary in particular, were flexing their muscles but no grandmasters were they yet.

The civilians could have seized the moment but they were seized of the same old rivalries and self-interest and unable to take advantage.

No one to impose control, no one able to take charge and no one really trusting the other — it was always going to end in tears.

The sordid allegations swirling around the judiciary this week are almost beside the point. If it wasn’t this, it would have been something else. And if it hadn’t been their turn, it would have been someone else’s.

The old guard is paralysed and weak, the upstarts have yet to learn the ropes and the ne’er-do-wells — the status-quo politicians — are stuck in Horace’s version of carpe diem: their hopes are few and they’re content to drink their wine. With no one to take charge, everyone’s in charge.

Which is why even the conspiracy theories are more contradictory than ever. In memogate, the uniform and the robe and the tiger teamed up to corner the red, black and green. In the rise of the PTI, the uniform was trying to hunt the tiger. In the survival of the PPP, the uniform had secretly aided the red, black and green.

In Swissgate, the robe and the uniform were trying to discredit the government to impose one of their own. In Mehrangate, the robe was trying to distance itself from the uniform. In Bahriagate, the uniform is trying to bring the robe to heel.

Pick your flavour, there’s something for every taste.

“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.”

Still, in CJ Iftikhar’s response this week to the allegations against his son, there is a temptation to follow through the logic.

And where Yeats can’t help, perhaps recourse to Shakespeare can.

With the allegations against his son about to get a public airing, you can almost imagine a distraught CJ Iftikhar wailing:

“Reputation, reputation, reputation! O, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial. My reputation, Iago, my reputation!”

Here was the man who had set out to remake Pakistan dragged into the very mud pit he had vowed to clean up. In his fierce response, you can find heroism — or a reason to pity.

As the wily Iago had advised Cassio, “You have lost no reputation at all, unless you repute yourself such a loser,” so CJ Iftikhar came out swinging, fighting to protect the public approval that is the foundation of his reign.

Admirable as his actions were to the many, they betrayed a weakness to the few who mattered, the ones who are part of the disorder from which the CJ is trying to create order.

One slight flick of the wrist, one casually whispered rumour, one allegation of the kind even the cleanest politician suffers several times in a career — and it provoked a fierce and very personal response.

The personal nature of the response suits the other side, hidden as it is behind a wall of conspiracy and subterfuge. One side is out in the open, suffering cuts and taking hits that were inconceivable just a week ago, while the dark forces of conspiracy, which rely more on manipulating public opinion than winning its favour, look on in satisfaction as another hero is cut down.

And that’s the problem for heroes in times of disorder. They can’t win but they can lose big. Or to put it in the words of the Dark Knight, “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

Pakistan does need a hero. But the times we’re in all but guarantee we won’t get one.

The writer is a member of staff.

cyril.a@gmail.com

Twitter: @cyalm

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Comments are closed.

Comments (43)

NASAH (USA)
June 10, 2012 3:51 pm
The problem with the Pakistani journalism is that at times it gets hysterical -- it does not take them much to put the human beings on a high up Angel pedestal one day -- and throw a rope around their necks and pull them down the next day -- CJ was neither a hero nor he has 'fallen' down -- he has made mistakes in the past -- that he corrected them later -- right now he is in no way culpable -- his son is -- and ONLY if proven guilty -- till then he is INNOCENT.
SHZ
June 10, 2012 9:03 am
Great rhetoric, little substance, Mr. Almeida. CJ Iftikhar Chaudharies misfortune is that he is the lone crusader against injustice, wrongdoing, corruption, and other forces of darkness. The latter are predominating in our society. As for the current crop of leaders at the helm of affairs, the less said the better. They are using their usual tactics; the stamp is clear and unmistakable. They just cannot countenance any man of character like the CJ. They did their best to see to it that he would not be restored, though they did it deviously. But restored he had to be. but they have been opposing him ever since. Now as to this present case, the truth will be out, just wait a little. But instead of further deepening the fog of despondency that hangs over the Islamic Republic, it is better if we focus on the real issue rather than beat about the bush and create confusion in the minds of readers. Truth will prevail, should be an article of faith with us. We are all with the CJ. We are realists. We don't think in terms of heroes and villains.
Mansoor Asif
June 10, 2012 5:10 pm
oh! What a fall is there my countrymen. I and you and every one is falling.
naseem
June 10, 2012 5:47 pm
PM Giliani was pronounced guilty and convicted, it is CJ's son in the dock not CJ himself. Learn to reason boy.
A.Nazir
June 13, 2012 12:15 pm
300-400 millions rupees from a well known wheeler dealer,Riaz Malick ! A lavish life style, foreign trips, all expenses paid.If Arsalan is proven guilty,CJ was a benignly neglectful of his son's business dealings.
afia salam
June 10, 2012 9:28 pm
I read, and didn't want to go on reading, yet completed it, or I would have found myself standing in line with the ostriches who abound in this nation:(
Shafe
June 10, 2012 9:06 pm
This episode has nothing to do with India. So please don't muddy the waters.
Shafe
June 10, 2012 9:13 pm
Wish we had charismatic leaders. Alas after Jinnah and Liaqat we had none.
ahmedi
June 10, 2012 9:01 pm
You failed to appreciate the genius that Cyril is, his writings are always a masterpiece, and so is this one.
Abid
June 10, 2012 8:45 pm
The CJ may have failed as a father. But, I believe that he has NOT failed this nation as a judge. ....a very honest judge with integrity, that he is. I salute him. I am very hopeful that full justice will be served to his son and others involved...... Let us be patient for some time.
raika45
June 10, 2012 11:56 am
British rule in this region had India,Malaya [including Singapore] and Hong Kong [on lease].After independence, countries like Malaya[which later became malaysaia with the addition of Sabah and Sarawak] and Singapore, which were known as backwater nations under pragmatic and far looking leaders are today flourishing as modern prosperous countries.In your case you chose charismatic leaders with no knowledge of proper governance resulting in the mess you are in.Anyone trying to right things, like your judiciary is facing adversaries.The same goes to your political structure.Your founding fathers did not create a solid foundation on which your future can rest.
Muhammad Bilal
June 10, 2012 10:02 am
Excuse Me! He stood fast for the seat of Chief Justice not for the sake of Judice System in Pakistan. Don't forget, he took oath as a PCO Judge twice from Pervaiz Musharraf. He only raised his hand when he was asked to step down. I would have saluted him, had he refused to take oath from Pervez Musharraf on PCO for the first time. He has taken several controversial decisions and has been extremely biased towards PML-N.
Asghar Hameed
June 13, 2012 11:30 am
Sins of the son are being visited upon the father. CJ better come out smelling like roses. If proven, that junior accepted 300-400 millions rupees from an upstart like Riaz Malick and CJ did not question his son's life style, then he was partial to his son
Irfan Husain
June 10, 2012 9:48 am
The absence of heroes in Pakistan is proved by the fact that Islamabad's center has been named Zero Point.
shams
June 10, 2012 8:43 am
Very interestingly, the word "loosed" is coined in this article but appropriate in the context as in "setting loose upon ..." with a negative connotation and the theme of the article. Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world! well said.
samina
June 10, 2012 4:04 pm
some sense or nonesense
NASAH (USA)
June 10, 2012 3:58 pm
The problem with the Pakistani journalism is that at times it gets hysterical -- it does not take them much to put the human beings on a high up Angel pedestal one day -- and throw a rope around their necks and pull them down the next day -- CJ was neither a hero nor he has 'fallen' down -- he has made mistakes in the past -- that he corrected them later -- right now he is in no way culpable -- his son is -- and ONLY if proven guilty -- till then he is INNOCENT.
Aziz
June 10, 2012 3:47 pm
The CJ is not the one who is under the microscope. His son is. P.M. Gilani has been declared an 'offender' by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. There was a 'moral ground' for the PM to resign but the people of Pakistan already knew of this improbability. The courts have not found his son guilty yet. Even if they do it is not CJs wrong-doing. Having said this I would very respectfully suggest to the CJ to resign now. It would be the most honourable thing to do. Pakistan would find a 'hero' it is desparately looking for.
@MeTousif
June 10, 2012 3:45 pm
Any honest historian will not be able hide or skip the contribution of judiciary towards the current plight of this nation.
@MeTousif
June 10, 2012 3:38 pm
And Bilal is right. Didn't the gentleman too PCO oath twice ? My mind boggles when I try to digest that a two-time PCO judge can remove so many one-time PCO judges just like this ? Where is the constitution which laid down a process to remove a judge of superior judiciary ?
Someone
June 10, 2012 3:36 pm
I do not agree with the last part. I think the CJ had to act, it was not a personal response - rather the entire judiciary/justice system was being maligned. Though the intent was to malign them and just as the author suggests to get "One side is out in the open, suffering cuts and taking hits that were inconceivable just a week ago, while the dark forces of conspiracy, which rely more on manipulating public opinion than winning its favour, look on in satisfaction as another hero is cut down." However I think the CJs action has stopped that from happening. His timely and transparent response should be lauded. Everyone has to realize how difficult a decision it must have been to try his own son. We have all witnessed how everyone else in this country tries to protect their kin. Let us see how everything unfolds. Someone has yet to produce evidence, in fact someone has even yet to become a complainant! I wonder if Malik Riaz comes forward with his evidence that he collected in a very shady manner. I wonder if he refuses to come forward what becomes of all our "highly respected" journalists. Personally I think they should have not said something until they had proof in their hands. In their eagerness to be part of a huge story they let themselves be used as pawns in what is probably a bigger game. Whatever happens, the supreme court probably will come out stronger. I do not agree with these writers who say that the reputation has been tarnished and like Cyril was saying maybe there should be calls for resignations. I ask you why? The allegation is on Arsalan? Who is not in a position of authority. There is no direct allegation on the supreme court. Also they have stepped forward to investigate the matter and have not tried to brush it under the rug. So by what logic has it been tarnished? Yes we have a right to ask questions now and we expect answers. But until then we should not be making any verdicts!
Muneeb
June 10, 2012 3:28 pm
Nice piece! The following line form Othello kept coming to my mind: Reputation is an idle and most false imposition; oft got without merit, and lost without deserving.
billo
June 10, 2012 2:18 pm
What a sidebar discussion to have in response to an important article, but...in fact the line was very definitely uttered by the Dark Knight.
Muhammad Haris
June 10, 2012 2:06 pm
from The Dark knight the writer meant the movie
aaa
June 10, 2012 1:46 pm
Innocent until proven guilty. Heroes are always in trails let wait and see what glory is waiting him on the other side of this trial.
baakhlaq
June 10, 2012 7:09 pm
what apiece of writing. an amalgamation of literature and news,of feelings and thoughts.
Sri
June 10, 2012 10:51 am
“You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” these words were said by Harvey Dent/Two-Face....not by the Dark Knight
rizwan
June 10, 2012 3:55 am
Complicated one......!
Mustafa Razavi
June 10, 2012 4:08 am
General Musharraf was president for over eight years, we never heard about any of his family members.
T Ahmed
June 10, 2012 4:16 am
Instead of all these literary references that obscure rather than clarify the point being made? Why is the writer focussing on the motives behind the allegations rather than on due process of law being followed to make sure the truth comes out?
Some Sense
June 10, 2012 4:33 am
Brave attempt Cyril, to defend the judiciary. But as an outside observer, I have perceived a sort of judicial dictatorship in Pakistan after the Musharraf era. In many ways, I see the judiciary as having held tied back one hand of the present government; the other by the army. I have not been convinced, as yet, that the CJP wants to put Pakistan on a modern course. I have only seen clash/es of the institutions initiated from the top seat of the judiciary.
S Ali Khan
June 10, 2012 5:03 am
Excellent writing. I wanted to cry. I did cry for my homeland
BRR
June 10, 2012 5:13 am
Wonderful writing - full of sadness, lamenting the follies of mankind, the inevitability of loss, the denouement of CJI's fate, rather the unraveling of the power of the robes. He who sticks his neck out in Pakistan gets his head cut off by villans hiding behind curtains.
Razzaq
June 10, 2012 5:31 pm
Great. I love it Irfan Saheb.
@jackshah62
June 10, 2012 5:49 am
So sad and well written. You conclusion is WRONG! atleast that is what the patriotic Pakistani in me deludes me to believe.
Reginald Massey
June 10, 2012 6:31 am
Brilliant, Mr A. What can one say ? Cry, the beloved country.
malik62
June 10, 2012 8:58 am
Dear T. Ahmed , give credit to the writer (where it id due) , he covered all aspects of the Society of 180 millions Pures as we stand today in this world . If he had not raised all those "suppose to be literary references" I am sure you would be among the first ones to object too. Nothing against you as a person , this is what we all Pakistanis are made up of . My hat off to CJP for taking the Notice and even pulling his own son " who is innocent before proven gulity" and when objected to his heading the bench , he excused himself out of it ( legally being CJ he had no choice but to be part of it initially due to the soumoto action being sole prerogative of the CJ's only , hence he can nto take a soumoto notice and not part of the bench ! ) . So another time my hat off to him when he was requested to vacate the bench because of so called personal interests the objecting lawyer failed to recognize the basics of soumoto law as such ! , read his remarks before he quited the bench " My son if found gulity , will be punished as per the law " Give Credit to where it is due . Let the due process take its course and Found Gulity be punished and not guilty ones be accepted as normal innocent beings weather they are Malik Riaz or Dr Arsalan , we all must stop and do a media trial of CJ or the accused ones
A Patel
June 10, 2012 6:41 am
Excellent writing,.for Pakistani people and media to understand, how flawed their thinking about mixing religion with politics, and mindless obsession about enmity with India, is causing them harm, disorder and anarchy.
Fayzee
June 10, 2012 6:51 am
Hold on!! he won't die a hero, as yet, nor become the villain. He has stood fast against the dictators and will Insha' Allah stand fast against these conspirators. And Pakistan will get a hero.
El Cid
June 10, 2012 8:05 am
Heros become heros after they fall, honoured and appreciated after they are struck down...old soldiers, those who survive, just fade away into the sunset. Allah tests parents with children, their bane. The Honorable Chief Justice, his reputation, is in the balance. Mud slinging, traps and all, underline the genuineness of his mission...a proof of his innocence. He should come out fighting--the fight of the just. For those who know and understand, his reputation will always be intact.
kaleem leghari
June 10, 2012 9:10 am
u ve rightly pointed out "logo reputation, my reputation", do anyone rise to the occasion and demand a resignation as they asked for P.M gillani on "moral ground"?
Shahid
June 10, 2012 7:17 pm
Bilal, I agree with you. CJ had helped his son to get addmission in medical college, get posting in FIA and then in Police. He only stood up when his post was taken away.
observer
June 11, 2012 9:26 am
"In memogate, the uniform and the robe and the tiger teamed up to corner the red, black and green. In the rise of the PTI, the uniform was trying to hunt the tiger. In the survival of the PPP, the uniform had secretly aided the red, black and green.In Swissgate, the robe and the uniform were trying to discredit the government to impose one of their own. In Mehrangate, the robe was trying to distance itself from the uniform. In Bahriagate, the uniform is trying to bring the robe to heel." A better summation of the power games in Pakistan , I have not seen. So we know where Bahriagate is coming from.
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