Justice for all

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  • Change around the corner?

Following a considerable interval, the special court constituted to prosecute General Musharraf is back in play. Despite having declared Musharraf an absconder in the case, the special court did not conduct any material hearings and was relatively silent. However, reignited quest for justice is, seemingly, deep-rooted as the court ordered the confiscation of Musharraf’s properties.

In continuation they went on to allow the government to cancel the absconder’s passport and CNIC, if need be. The general, on countless occasions, has narrated his commando tendencies and how he has been trained to not fear anything. Yet, here we have a former special forces member reluctant to appear before a court of law. Not so consistent with his claimed legacy.

If indeed he doesn’t have anything to fear and trusts that he is not guilty of the charges framed, then why not face the courts and get himself vindicated? Fleeing on the pretext of a medical surgery isn’t expected from a man of honour. Nevertheless, the general continues to be an absconder and, despite what anyone might say, is an accused on the run from the clutches of law.

The woes of Musharraf are one of the pertinent questions that arise out of the situation. Another aspect that we miss is the charges he is being accused of. Promulgating the November 2007 emergency and suspending the constitution. Relevant, quite relevant. What about the time he came into power? Was that not a suspension of the constitution? Does removing a democratically elected prime minister not amount to high treason?

The ECL is a mechanism developed to counter fugitives and the accused from escaping the wrath of justice. Such apparatus should be used with due care and equality and not subjectively

All these questions would have been answered had we actually embarked on a quest for justice. General Musharraf should face his due trial no questioning that, however the case against him should be pursued whole heartedly and accountability once again should be across the board.

It would be magnificent to witness a large bench being constituted to revisit the judgements passed on the behest of the infamous ‘doctrine of necessity’. Which constitution were the Hon’ble judges of the time interpreting? As far as my feeble knowledge of the constitution is concerned, there is no provision set out which enables any military general to abrogate the constitution and remove an elected leader from office. There also isn’t any provision which empowers the Supreme Court to validate such actions. Such judgements are not an extended form of judicial activism, it is a disgraceful violation of the oath of office taken by the top adjudicators and a fatal blow to the constitution.

In order to clean up permanently, these judgements need to be revisited. Only then can the judiciary remove the taint of sponsoring military dictators. With such removal, lasting dispensation of justice can be brought forward. If it means bringing the judges of the time into question, then so be it. If the highest military general can be prosecuted for abrogating the constitution then the judges validating his actions should be included in as co-accused. Blessing the 1999 coup de ’tat equally amounts to treason against the very constitution they swore to protect.

Include the 1999 coup and then only will the special court trial be labelled as justice. Till then, it will be construed as part of a vindictive scheme for the November 2007 move against the judiciary, orchestrated by Iftikhar Chaudhary, and not the desired form of justice. Moreover, arrest the general and bring him back to face the court, however, at the same time arrest the sons of Nawaz Sharif along with Ishaq Dar, who happens to be a senator and yet an absconder, and bring all of them back to face the wrath of law.

Conveniently, the N-league states that the princely sons of MNS are not citizens of Pakistan so they are not required to face the courts. Does moral high-ground mean anything to the Sharif family? On one side they intend to rule the country whereas on the other their own children are exempted from facing the courts of law in the country. The people of Pakistan need to wake up. Be grateful to yourselves and choose your leaders wisely. Voting for such people amounts to insubordination to one’s self.

In spite of public opinion, certain quarters seem to have been reborn. The move against Ahad Cheema is again commendable. For the first time in so many years, NAB seems to be trudging in the right direction. With a protective cover and support from the judiciary, the accountability watchdog may go on to bring about a change. This is a process of accountability that this country desperately needs. With leniency not being afforded to any stakeholder, the Bureau seems to be treating everyone alike without discriminating. Nonetheless they do face certain predicaments, especially, when it comes to moving against the royal family of Raiwind.

At the very outset, the federal government has refused to place the Sharif family on the exit control list. The ECL is a mechanism developed to counter fugitives and the accused from escaping the wrath of justice. Such apparatus should be used with due care and equality and not subjectively. Our incumbent leaders have out rightly refused to be neutral. And yet we claim to be part of a democratic setup. A real democracy would put Nawaz Sharif under strict watch and control and would also remove him from his supreme leadership of the Nawaz league.

Keeping optimism alive always, let us hope to see a prospering Pakistan with institutions stronger than individuals and a truer form of justice readily available to the common man in the times to come. Aristotle predicted the nature of men all those years ago;

At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst”