I remember 3rd November 2007 as if it was yesterday. I was sitting at Samad Khurram’s house who was on a semester break from Harvard, he was helping me prepare for one of my exams which was in a week’s time. We were sitting on the sofa when suddenly a text message came on my phone it read, “Mubarak ho, Pakistan main Musharraf sahib ne phir martial law laga diya!” We rushed to check the TV and all channels were off, we had little information on what was going on. Yet, obviously we knew that the problem was the on going clash with the judiciary.
Samad and I started talking about the implications of what was going on, I obviously being only 17 at the time didn’t know much about the complexities or dynamics of the situation. Pervez Musharraf came on TV later that night and said that he had declared emergency in the country. For what it is worth, the lawyers’ movement had indeed inspired a lot of young people to take ownership of what went on nationally. We were appalled at the emergency and there was something within us which said we would not accept it. Amongst severe opposition form our parents for obvious reasons we would still secretly go into protests. We would tell our parents that we were going for group study or tuition or any other excuse we could come up with, and most of us would end up going to Islamabad.
There were stand-offs between police, and exams seemed to have perhaps wrongly become second priority for us at the time. Yet, we all did truly believe in what we were fighting for! We would pretend to be senior officers or government officials and call police stations to try get our fellow protestors out. A lot of my friends including Samad suffered injuries to their hands, back, faces and feet. Yet, with no regrets. The struggle was long and hard, and there were two long marches in between. Yet, the effort of all Pakistanis, our civil society, our people bore fruit. It was a long struggle but somehow Pakistan had managed to restore its Chief Justice and its deposed judges.
All of us attached a lot of hope to this judiciary. It delivered historic verdicts. We saw the start of an accountability that was much needed in Pakistan. No one can ever be perfect, but the Supreme Court of Pakistan and its judges became beacons of change that gave the youth of this country hope that not all was lost and not all was to give up in Pakistan. From investigating into the Hajj scandal, to trying to reopen the Swiss cases against our respected President, to taking notice of corruption in Rental Power Plants, to bringing to court people who could only dream of getting justice before. We were proud of our “Azaad Adliya”.
So, it was indeed a moment of extreme shock when the allegations from Malik Riaz came in against Dr Arsalan Chaudhry. Everyone was holding their breath as the stories played out on the media, and all other issues seemed to have been sidelined in the process. Could it have been that what we had believed in and put our faith in so strongly had let us down? Yet, the breath of fresh air came when a video surfaced on Youtube showing how interviews were being planted and there seemed to be a coordinated effort to malign the judiciary to lower it’s credibility. It seemed to be a coordinated effort by those who would have been affected most by an independent judiciary in the country.
What has emerged even more from this whole fiasco is that there is a need for accountability specially in the media, so such coordinated attacks can not happen again. Jang group and Geo has taken a bold step in this regard by setting to file a petition in the Supreme Court asking for an independent commission to investigate allegations against the media as well as undue sources of influence on freedom of speech by Pemra and the Information Ministry. It has become important to investigate all allegations against media anchors and journalists and it is important that the public know who they can trust or not.
The status quo tries hard to maintain situations which benefit it. It can go to any extent from maligning the judiciary and the media. Yet, as one of the many people who took part in the movement for restoring this judiciary and as one of the many people who had and still have faith in the chief justice and the Supreme Court, hope can not be so easily lost. So as Mr Jeem put it on Geo about the allegations and the attempts to discredit what gives hope to so many Pakistanis, “Main Nahi Manta, Main Nahi Janta!”
The writer is Youth Ambassador of Geo and Jang Group.
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