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Judiciary’s role and democracy

June 25, 2012

THIS is in response to Asma Jehangir’s article ‘Democracy under threat’ (June 19) I am an admirer of Asma Jehangir because she is a rare voice of dissent, and a world- acclaimed human rights activist.

However, I disagree with her conclusions and insights on the judiciary’s role, and do not share her apprehensions regarding democracy which she believes is on the brink of derailment.

I do not think that the present judiciary recourses to manipulative tactics. On the contrary, the judges pass their observations clearly and do not mince words. It is just that we are trapped in the scandalous horrors of the judiciary of the past.

Had the PPP government shown restraint and obedience to the courts there would not have been a shred of ‘political instability’. The rowdy TV shows are one thing, but some of these give people a moral lens to see through the political artifice. Judiciary’s recent decisions were watershed moments. It has strengthened people’s faith in the rule of law.

No doubt people have the right to disagree with the Supreme Court’s decisions. However, the judiciary has taken difficult decisions in the face of a belligerent and defiant executive. These are good days for Pakistan as many hypocrites are unmasked.

However, for the poor masses, these are ‘sad’ days because the present government has made their life miserable. There is no power, no work, and no basic amenities of life.

The judges are human beings and the Supreme Court is also in a transitional phase. With the passage of time they will settle into their normative. Many judgments appear ‘self-laudatory’ but chief justice’s suo motu against his own son is a rare thing.

For the legal experts there may be a lot of ground for hair-splitting regarding the modalities of that particular case but to a common man it is a great precedent of the dispensation of ‘justice’ in which a father apprehends his own son. How many institutions in this country set this sort of standard for self-accountability? People do not give much to the notion of ‘criteria’. They want justice.

It is a great opportunity for the shambled PPP government to revive its sinking reputation. The present judiciary has given the government enormous time on NRO and other cases but they did not make the most of it. Their intentions were suspicious. How far a judiciary can be ‘sensitive’ to an executive after witnessing the uncouth and rowdy behavior of the attorney general in the full court?

Perhaps at the moment, on account of setting higher moral grounds, the Supreme Court is the only winner but in times to come a fair and functional executive will be the greater winner. Only time will tell. Pakistan is changing.

RIZWAN AKHTAR United Kingdom

Strange opinion

THIS is apropos of Shams Z. Abbas’s  letter ‘Let the law take its course’ (June 16) in which he has urged the chief justice of Pakistan to resign. It is a very strange demand/opinion. One could have asked for the chief justice’s resignation only if he had been involved in the scandal or had favoured his son Arsalan Iftikhar. But, the chief justice has not only banished his son from home but has also taken all steps according to the Constitution.

These people instead should have asked the prime minister to step down because of allegations on his son till the hearing of the case in the Supreme Court is completed.

Yousuf Raza Gilani, before being declared ineligible to hold a seat in the parliament, was engaged in changing investigation officers in his son’s case. Why was then there no hue and cry over it?


Oaths and credibility

MALIK Riaz is recorded in our now fully discredited media holding a copy of the holy book to his head as he accused the chief justice of Pakistan. He has then asked for the chief justice to reciprocate the gesture if in denial.

This is a country where, at the drop of a hat, people are willing to take oaths on anything and everything, especially in the seeming national pastime of perjurious (sic) accusation/defence. Indeed, three of the most potent qualifications for absolute truth in Pakistan are in rising order: an oath on a close or higher familial relationship; words spouted through a bearded mouth and power. The forth and most powerful oath is that taken on the holy book.

Recently we have seen a spate of instances where persons, many of indubitably doubtful antecedents, publicly swear their own personal fealty/intrinsic honesty/veracity of their accusation against the other, on the holy book.

Indeed, this is rapidly becoming an epidemic. I have a big problem with such oaths because, to me, it implies that everything else the swearer stands for is inherently false and an oath is required for his word to be taken without a barrelful of salt.Could some literate religious persons or the Shariat Court cast some light on this issue? If those taking oaths of high magnitude later are found to have borne false witness, then should they not be suitably punished for those lies? Further, as in the blasphemy scenario, especially as it usually terminates in Pakistan, are not those gesticulating on the holy book guilty of sacrilege and should not they be given a greater, preferably the conventionally popular, punishment?