Trust Ejaz Haider to ask the most pertinent question post restoration of CJ Iftekhar Chaudhry. What’s next? Haider, a veteran journalist, writes that the issue must go beyond the person of the CJP to the institution of the judiciary and further on to the judiciary’s interaction with other institutions of state and society. And, to the gravest threat facing Pakistan: terrorism. The difficult part is yet to come.
The problem is; the difficult part is here & now, glaring at us in the face. Government of Pakistan and NWFP signed a deal with militants in Swat last month, practically handing most of Malakand division over to them. The deal, ironically called Nizam Adl Regulation (System of Justice Regulation), ran into snags when Tehrik Nifaz-i-Shariat Muhammadi chief Maulana Sufi Mohammad asked judicial officers to stop coming to courts and said that any further court proceedings would be in violation of the agreement signed by the government.
The lawyers’ movement took on the case of CJ Chaudhry for the past two years and marched the length & breadth of the country, but will they take up the case of lawyers and session judges who are now given their marching orders by Maulana Sufi Mohammed. CJ Chaudhry was sacked by the president of the country (we are not going into the details of how credible was the election of the president) which raised the proverbial hell and rightly so. Now, this so called leader and cleric, who was jailed by the government until recently, threatens the judges and lawyers of the area and there is hardly any response to that, either from the lawyers’ community or civil society. I don’t expect champions of justice and democracy Imran Khan and Qazi Hussien Ahmed to breathe a word against this atrocity because it is brought on by their brothers in faith but what about the other upholder of democracy and rule of law Mr. Nawaz Sharif? Not a murmur from PML-N either. Does that mean that political parties in Pakistan can only stand up against the state machinery and burn and destroy public property, but cannot take on the militants who are hell bent on destroying the very fabric of society.
I am eagerly waiting for March 24th, the day CJ Chaudhry resumes office to see if he takes a suo moto action against this. After all, his claim to fame is the number of suo moto actions taken over a period of time. If he will not take this action, he will have to amend his title as suggested by Ejaz Haider to Chief Justice Pakistan sans Swat because the system Justice Chaudhry heads is not acceptable to Sufi Muhammad running his satrapy.
Lawyers’ movement played its part in the ouster of President Musharraf; can it play a part in dealing with terrorism and the likes of Taliban and Sufi Mohammed?