The cloak of compromise


Hope, if at all, giving way to despair

The fall from grace of the once irrepressible Babar Awan has been generally understandable, but the rise in Aitzaz Ahsan’s fortunes has been truly phenomenal. Just look at the crowns that he is already wearing: the principal legal advisor to the prime minister, a seat in the senate along with the reported nomination for being the leader of the house and membership of the prestigious parliamentary committee for the appointment of judges. All this within a short span since he was virtually perceived as consigned to oblivion! He may have had to pay some price along the way, but mostly in terms of compromising principles of which he was once the chief proponent! Who cares? There is such terrible dearth of the commodity in the country anyway!

Before the bench, he has not refrained from giving convoluted arguments to plead the case of his benefactor: that the prime minister was a ‘peer-o-murshad’ and a ‘gaddi nasheen’ and, therefore, should be trusted for what he says, and that his public posturing poking fun at the apex court had all been misunderstood. The prime minister’s fond penchant to go for the lesser punishment by refusing to write the letter in preference to being hanged for writing it (as it would be breach of the constitution) should also not be taken seriously. The court is also expected to turn a deaf ear to the prime minister proclaiming nonchalantly that if he had to write the letter, he would have done so a long time ago. Aitzaz Ahsan would have us believe that the prime minister did not say any of that and that it was a mere figment of the writers’ imagination.

Then he has asked the bench to refer the matter to the parliament as suggested in option six of its earlier judgement. In doing so, he has expressed his (wilful or inadvertent) lack of understanding of the difference between matters of legislation and law: while the former belong within the realm of the parliament, the judiciary has the sole prerogative to adjudicate regarding the latter.

His expression of a lack of faith in the fitness of the bench to hear the case is as far as cacophony can be stretched. You know what? The likes of Babar Awan may have a case here. After all, he did not come with any pretensions of upholding the rule of law. Everyone knew what his act was all about. He was out to berate the legitimacy of the Supreme Court and malign it to laughable proportions. He was out to do that and he didn’t mince his words or change his demeanour. He was the leader of a demolition squad with an express purpose and motive and he unleashed his armoury indiscriminately!

The bit-here-bit-there masquerade being enacted by Senator Aitzaz Ahsan comes across as a calculated effort to obfuscate the issue and mitigate its relevance to a host of problems that the country is confronted with, the most important of them emanating from the refusal of the ruling political mafia to respect and obey the rule of law. His filibustering tactics are meant to buy more time for a corrupt and inept government that was conceived in the NRO reflecting a mindset that every crime is forgivable amidst the false pretensions of ‘democracy’. It is the ‘revenge’ of the very same ‘democracy’ that the whole country has been reeling under for over four years now and the end seems nowhere near. Or, at least, Aitzaz Ahsan would have us believe that!

Now to the other side of the fence! The NRO case has been around for almost three years now. It has virtually paralyzed the country administratively and intellectually – that’s saying a lot for a country that has survived on the periphery of the above-said qualities through all the years of its existence. Still, even pretensions to the claim have been fogged out. We are left with skeletons – and a hell of a noise meaning nothing. In the words of T S Eliot:

For I have known them all already, known them all –

Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;

I know the voices dying with a dying fall

Beneath the music from a farther room,

So, how should I presume?

Should I presume that this is the way it has always been and this is the way it’ll always be? Should I also presume that all state institutions are privy to this scheming and the cumulative objective is to frustrate people to accepting the state of their fate as spelled out and their virtual submission before the inhuman and cruel instruments of authority whose reins are controlled by a coterie of the corrupt ruling mafia? Should I also presume that anyone daring to disagree or digress would be dealt with befittingly and even their last resting places would go unmarked and unknown? Should I also presume that any hope, if at all, has been drowned in the raging torrents of lust and greed? It is all dead. Not a limb shall move. Not a thought shall reverberate. Not a voice shall flutter. It is all dead amidst a heap of skeletons signifying a union of the advocates of a status quo that stinks to the core.

Is there more to watch? Is there more to endure? Is there more to consume, more of the same potion? At the height of the movement for the restoration of an independent judiciary, hope was all-pervading. But, somehow, the vanguard of that remarkable ground-changer is seen wearing the cloak of compromise. And, when the time came to reaping the dividends of that Herculean struggle, the ground has caved in and hope is increasingly giving way to despair.

The writer is a political analyst and a member of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. He can be reached at [email protected]