At last, as per ISPR release, three accused retired generals involved in the NLC case have been reinstated, of course without benefits, for further proceedings. Though all agree that the case be brought to its logical conclusion, the development has received mixed response about the adopted course.
Some critics continue to cause aspersions on the way the case is being handled, have apprehensions about the outcome and are demanding that the case be investigated by concerned civil agencies. The majority of people, however, have appreciated the step and consider it a good omen for the country’s future. To these people, it’s a new beginning — no more holy cows.
To elaborate my point, I tend to be with the latter group as the country can no more afford to nurture holy cows, may they be from any premier institution. Same is necessitated because in the last few years, military establishment’s status as a centre of gravity has diluted and the judiciary, media and the political elite have also emerged as major power centres, are individually vying to take the centre-stage and, as such, any preferential treatment to a single one would upset the entire equilibrium, disturbing the delicate balance.
In Pakistan’s peculiar environment, the military establishment still remains a major entity and people place a lot of hope in this institution. It must continue to perform, deliver and hold ruthless accountability for failings, both professional and moral. Only then its leadership would be able to meet the expectations of the masses and wield influence, directly or indirectly, on those bent upon undermining the country’s institutions.
Same is also imperative to counter the ongoing unprecedented propaganda unleashed against the military establishment by parties with vested interests, using a segment of anchorpersons/journalists. In nutshell, military must stand tall on moral and professional grounds. Fair trial of the accused in NLC case would surely enhance army’s image, though a lot would depend on the outcome.
As we flash back the unprecedented movement for restoration of the CJ, speeches of the eminent lawyers, promises and the generated hope, one thought that all our worries would be over with the onset of the ‘independent judiciary’. Unfortunately, this was not to be.
In spite of the fact that the judiciary, under the leadership of the incumbent CJ, gave some landmark decisions, the people continue to suffer due to lack of governance and justice. As a result, disillusionment is slowly setting in, a manifestation of which can be seen in the recent comments by Asma Jehangir, Ali Ahmed Kurd, Aitzaz Ahsan, etc, the stalwarts of independent judiciary movement.
The greatest damage has been done by the way Arsalan Iftikhar’s case, perceived to be a holy cow, has been handled by the judiciary and, connected with it, unchecked media campaign by PPP ‘jialas’. If judiciary is to regain its ascendency, an imperative for the country to survive, justice must be seen as done in Arsalan Iftikhar’s case.
Media, in the last few years, has emerged as a major power centre to reckon with and has many laurels to its credit. However, as compared to the other power centres which are institutionalised, the media remains rudderless and consequently, a few anchorpersons have become holy cows who feel that they are beyond the institutions, the government and even the state. They have gained mastery over twisting facts in pursuance of self-conceived or externally motivated agendas for certain personal gains.
Just to quote a few examples of a self-righteous anchorperson; he urged General Musharraf to take action on Lal Masjid in front of other colleagues and once the operation was undertaken, became its greatest critic. On memo-gate, he openly sided with Haqqani and condemned Mansoor Ijaz, for reasons known to many, but after the findings of the judicial commission, never bothered to admit that he was wrong. He is the main exponent of Army/ISI bashing campaign, commencement of which unfortunately coincided with the US-Pakistan Army stand-off in the aftermath of 2nd May 2011 and Salala incidents.
Any keen observer would note discrepancies in his arguments but he still thrives, has become the holiest of all cows and untouchable. Probably, President Zardari, the grand master, is the only one who knows the art to tame such anchorpersons. For others who choose to pursue principled journalism, self-accountability, where required, is the best course to adopt. A strict code of conduct would surely be in order to prevent misuse of this powerful instrument.
And finally the political leadership, whose lack of commitment to ‘accountability’ can be gauged from their inability to bring in the new Ehtisab bill. Resultantly, in spite of a vibrant media and a proactive judiciary, corruption in the government machinery is rampant, destroying the national economy like a termite. With investigation agencies under their fold, the top political elite have become holy cows who cannot be touched.
To sum up, things cannot continue the way they are. If this trend is to be reversed, the majority of masses must stop considering corruption as a ‘non-issue’ and holy cows must remain no more in political elite, judiciary, military establishment and the media — all must be treated equally as per law of the land.