Justice should be done but only under due process, with balance and equity
“The avaricious are complainants and judges too. Who to appoint counsel, whom to seek justice from?” asked our great poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz at another time, when he too was incarcerated for ‘treason’.
Banay hain ahle hawas muda’ee bhi munsif bhi
Kissay vakil keratin, kis say munsafi chahain?
Good that Faiz Sahib wasn’t also imprisoned for terrorism. Though those too were bad times but not as bad as today. Then Pakistanis had hope; today they are hopeless. Our systems are hurtling towards their natural metamorphosis. Better this way than by force for then they become martyrs and return as zombies to haunt us.
Last week Gen Musharraf appeared before a high court for placing certain judges under house arrest, which is a bailable offence. But the judge attached a terrorism charge to it, denied him bail and ordered police to arrest him. Many lawyers say that he cannot and it was another case of overstepping. Once denied bail it is up to the interior ministry to order police to arrest the accused. The police did not. Musharraf is hardly going to go looking for the police to arrest him.
Since the police didn’t arrest Musharraf, he went home. His security whisked him away because the anti-Musharraf lawyers there were in such a black mood that they feared they might attack him. It is security’s job not to be too careful and take things for granted. But a clearly partisan media that Musharraf the ‘dictator’ made independent of the state but not of the Big Business-Big Politics Combine started the ridiculous rumour that he had scampered. A paper we know well, otherwise fairly balanced called him a ‘runaway’ general. Why would Musharraf voluntarily return to face the music only to scamper? Why without getting the US-UK combine to get cases against him withdrawn or the Saudis to get him a pardon and whisk him away to one of those carbuncles they call ‘palaces’? He came knowing the knives were naked, the cases against him alive and the terrorists ready. The next day this same paper’s headline screamed: “The general submits to justice.” Musharraf returned voluntarily and embraced justice. I find it comical that he has been placed on the Exit Control List whereas he should have been placed on the Entry Control List and saved our powers a lot of confusion.
It was also comical that while Gen Musharraf was in the anti-terrorism court the real terrorists dressed like Dracula were beating up a boy outside. Probably he was pro-Musharraf. It is certainly everyone’s democratic right to protest peacefully but not to cause mayhem. This is what our flag bearers of democracy and liberalism are: if you agree with them you are good; if not they will throttle you. And they resent it when you call them ‘liberal fascists’. The classic definition of fascism is the use of the most progressive rhetoric to further the most retrogressive ends. If they were true democrats and liberals they would not take oaths under provisional constitutional orders to protect their jobs, join unelected cabinets and seek offices of any kind.
Perhaps our hapless powers didn’t seriously expect Musharraf to return and so were not prepared for it. There is no precedent for them to follow, no template to adopt. Caught in utter confusion they are thrashing around like beached whales, unwittingly putting Musharraf’s life at greater risk by dragging him around from home to court to some police establishment to an anti-terrorism court. No one is saying that real justice shouldn’t take its course; of course it must but only under due process with balance and equity. They have no right to present the general on a platter to terrorists and potential killers. If, God forbid, anything happens to Musharraf his blood will be on their hands. With police brandishing fearsome weapons milling around him in the name of security, do they know that there is not another assassin amongst them, like Salman Taseer’s police ‘bodyguard’ shot him in the back like a coward?
This coldblooded, self-confessed assassin has many supporters amongst the ‘lawyers’ who showered flower petals on him and still lionize him. Are terrorist lovers terrorists or is Musharraf who fought them both? These ‘lawyers’ beat up judges, contrary lawyers, journalists, cameramen, photographers and politicians. They are officers of the court but like serial contemnors they repeatedly bring the judiciary into contempt by their hooliganism. They obviously don’t know the law. Judges in an egalitarian state where blind justice prevails equitably and every citizen is equal before the law should have cancelled their licenses and imprisoned them for mayhem and causing grievous bodily harm – or are they scared of them? The chief justice took nary any notice. But I suppose some citizens are more equal then others, what? This state has become Bedlam.
The government instituted this particular case against Musharraf for placing certain judges under house arrest on the instructions of the judiciary. Some of the same judges are still in various courts, including the chief justice, whether they sit on the bench hearing it or not. There is such a thing as influence. Judges are the injured party, complainants and adjudicators all at the same time, as Faiz lamented. Can judges be judges in their own cause? Can anyone? Is it due process? Many of these judges legitimized the 1999 countercoup and took oath under Musharraf’s first PCO. Are they Lilly White clean or are they a danger to Snow White? A partisan judiciary and a partisan media are the last thing a real democracy needs. They become democracy’s death knell.
Try Musharraf certainly in all cases that have been filed against him, no one is saying otherwise, but try all his “aiders, abettors and collaborators” too and only under due process. If the state doesn’t display wisdom, balance and equity and justice doesn’t flow from the courts it will soon start flowing through the barrel of a gun toted either by the army with gloves off or terrorists who don’t know what gloves are. God help us then. No one wants that for then there will be grave injustices. The prosecutors and persecutors of today will become the prosecuted and persecuted of tomorrow. We have dug ourselves into a ditch yet we continue digging. If we don’t stop digging the ditch will become our grave.
If they think that this will prevent future army interventions they could unwittingly hasten it. Just as the lawyers felt humiliated by the treatment meted out to their chief and came out in protest, the army will also feel humiliated with Musharraf’s hounding and could come out in protest in its own way. I would love to hear today’s chatter in the barracks and the messes.
If putting judges under house arrest is terrorism, then what is giving bail to numerous terrorists who went on to commit heinous acts of terrorism? Lack of evidence forsooth such outdated and ineffective laws and procedures must be changed. This was the first point in the 2007 Proclamation of Emergency. Nobody in his right mind could disagree with it. The blood of all those killed by the terrorists is on the hands of those magistrates and judges that gave them bail. So too the responsibility for the pain of those maimed and the lives destroyed of the victims’ families.
They would also try Gen Musharraf for treason under Article 6 for the 2007 emergency but not for the 1999 countercoup which the Supreme Court legitimized and became “aiders, abettors and collaborators”, as did the then president, the initial cabinet, politicians, generals, bureaucrats, editors and journalists who supported it. But in an act of legal terrorism against our collective intelligence, the last parliament of geniuses indemnified them all. If the 1999 countercoup had not been legitimized there is no way the 2007 emergency could have happened. You cannot take cognizance of the effect and not the cause.
Which Article 6 are they going to try Musharraf under, the one that obtained in 1999 and 2007 or the new one changed by the last parliament? The first didn’t contain the word ‘abeyance’, the second one does. The conclusion seems sadly inescapable that the amendment was Musharraf specific for he didn’t impose martial law nor abrogated the constitution but only put some of its articles in abeyance for a time – for 42 days in 2007 during which time he retired from the army. Is this their devious gambit of trapping him while saving their own skins, those who sat in the late parliament courtesy the NRO and pardons? Our late parliament of geniuses should have known that laws are made for dispensing justice, not extracting revenge. If these geniuses think that by indemnifying them the “aiders, abettors and collaborators” of 1999 they are off the hook they have another thought coming. There is manmade justice on earth and Divine Justice perpetually going on in Heaven. The wheels of God grind slowly but they grind exceedingly fine. There is no way that Musharraf can be tried for ‘high treason’ only for the 2007 emergency and not for the 1999 countercoup along with all “aiders, abettors and collaborators”. That justice should not only be done but also be seen to be done is axiomatic; so too impartiality that should not only obtain but also seen to obtain.
The writer is a political analyst. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org