“Mein Lieber Goring”. Hitler was replying to a Goring complaint that the Judges had behaved disgracefully in the Reichstag Fire Case. “You would think that we were on trial not the Communists”, said Goring. “It is only a question of time”. Replied Hitler. “We shall soon have those old fellows talking our language. They are all ripe for retirement anyway, and we will put in our own people”.
The government is obviously not very comfortable with the superior judiciary. Its main concern is how to subjugate it, pack it with its own people and do away with the rule of law. Surprisingly, this is exactly what Hitler did more than 60 years ago.
Pakistan is poised to descend into chaos and economic catastrophe. Evidence of a state tottering on the edge of complete dysfunction is apparent everywhere in Pakistan. The mood is of futility and despair. The government’s refusal to comply with the Supreme Court directive in the NRO case is an alarm call of the most compelling kind. The fear of conspiracy against the Supreme Court hangs heavy in the air.
Yousuf Reza Gilani is now in the dustbin of history. How fortunes fluctuate! “Not long ago, we saw him at the top of Fortune’s wheel, his word a law to all and now surely he is at the bottom of the wheel. From the last step of the throne to the first of scaffold, there is a short distance. To such changes of Fortune what words are adequate? Silence alone is adequate”.
The nation-wide jubilation which we witnessed after the Supreme Court delivered its landmark judgement in the contempt case against Gilani, was justified on many grounds. It restored the majesty of the Constitution; it proved the independence of the judiciary. Above all, it demonstrated that nobody is above law. All these are good causes for celebration. The citizens of this benighted country have, for once, been assured that there is such a thing as true accountability. They have the comfort of knowing that those who defy the Supreme Court and have grown fat and rich on ill-gotten gains at the cost of starving millions, can be brought to book.
Outwardly an illusory calm and an unreal air of bourgeois serenity seem to have settled over Islamabad. “Everything seems”, as Goethe said, “to be following its normal course because even in terrible moments in which everything is at stake, people go on living as if nothing were happening”. But a perfect storm is looming on the horizon. Islamabad is once again preparing for a collision between those who stand behind the Supreme Court, the defender of the Constitution, the Rule of Law, the protector of citizen’s liberties and those who represent the forces of darkness, whose hands are dirty, who have looted and plundered the resources of this poor country. “I can detect the near approach of the storm. I can hear the moaning of the hurricane, but I can’t say when or where it will break forth”.
Today the Pakistan stage is clogged with bad actors playing lousy parts from commanding heights. Too many conflicting agendas. Too many egos. Too many so-called leaders with dirty hands. Major absentee on the stage: the people of Pakistan, barely mentioned by anyone. How can corrupt rulers occupy any place in the political order of Pakistan? This is equivalent to asking what place should be assigned to a malignant disease which preys upon and fractures the body of a sick man.
Five years ago, a judicial earth quake remade the political terrain of our country. On March 9, 2007 to be exact, began a new epoch in the history of Pakistan. On that day Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary defied the military dictator and refused to resign. With that act of courage, he triggered a revolution and changed the course of history. This was the moment when Pakistan lifted its head and began to fight back against the dictator.
No authoritarian or corrupt ruler can afford an independent judiciary. The two cannot coexist and are bound to collide. Without an independent judiciary, the Republic cannot be made to endure. But when government falls into perfidious hands, it becomes itself the instrument of counter-revolution. No wonder, all those who do not believe in the rule of law and all those who represent the forces of darkness and counter-revolution, have joined hands once again to reverse the judicial revolution triggered by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary.
In Pakistan, the Supreme Court’s historic role has been one of subservience to military dictators. Iftikhar Chaudhry broke with the past tradition and changed all that. The nexus between the generals, corrupt rulers and the superior judiciary has snapped. An era of deference by the Supreme Court to the executive has given way to judicial independence. Isn’t it ironic that today the people of Pakistan, especially the poor, the disadvantaged and the voiceless, expect justice not from parliament, not from the presidency, not from the prime minister but from an unelected and unaccountable Supreme Court?
Today there is an intense anxiety on the part of ordinary people for decisive leadership. In this Manichean struggle, people are waiting for a stirring lead and a clarion call. It seems that while the nation craves for leadership, political leaders are equally determined not to lead them. Is it because they are all status-quo friendly and do not want to rock the boat? Isn’t it a great tragedy that today the destiny of Pakistan is in the hands of its reluctant leaders who refuse to draw the sword people are offering them?
Counter revolution does not give up easily. The first threats of counter-revolutionary activity have already begun to appear. Attempts are being made to subvert the people’s will and overturn the judicial revolution. Today the only ray of hope is the Supreme Court. People must rally round it and defend it. If people won’t even speak up in its defensc, the present corrupt order will acquire the mantle of legitimacy and permanence.
In the course of nearly four years, the government launched five successive and overlapping wars – against the N-League, the media, the judiciary, and finally against the people and history itself. All reflected a mindset to defy the Supreme Court and disregard the Constitution and laws of Pakistan for personal benefit, a quest for dirt and secrets about opponents as an organising principle. This government is not a government of the people, by the people, for the people. It has turned much of itself into a criminal enterprise.
The struggle to restore the rule of law has reached a moment of truth. Today it is a political and moral imperative for all Pakistanis to stand behind the Supreme Court and fight for our liberties and be prepared to face all consequences.
The writer is a former federal secretary. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.roedadkhan.com