(by Nayyar Afaq, 17th March 2009)
March 2009 – On one hand, terrorism and extremism is getting their roots deep in society, while on the other, the country is suffering a worst form of financial meltdown. On one side, armed forces and intelligence agencies are getting maligned through international campaign, and on the other, an environment is getting set that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are not in safe hands. This time when nation needs to be united to face and defeat the challenges, there is a cat and mouse game in play among the political parties and a vast majority is considering Lawyers’ Movement as the only solution to the problems of Pakistan.
The time when a Long March and sit in (Dharna) for indefinite period was announced by the lawyers’ leaderships, and when a worst form of law and order crisis was setting up on roads, embarrassing Pakistan in the international community, government of Pakistan surrendered to the demands of lawyers, and announced for the restoration of Mr. Iftikhar Chaudhry. It seems a right moment to make some enquiry of so called lawyers’ Movement.
This movement is based on the perceptions that Mr. Iftikhar Chaudhry is the symbol of independent and free judiciary, and that all the mess is created by President Musharraf, who was not happy by him over his suo moto actions, and that the reference was forwarded by the Prime Minister Shoukat Aziz due to his personal grudges with Chief Justice, over the decision against Steels Mills issue.
Steels Mills Issue-Unspoken facts:
August 7, 2006- A day before the judgment of Steels Mills, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry rang the military secretary of President Musharraf and asked for a sitting with him at Army House to discuss the details of the judgment. President allowed him to come and also did call Attorney General of Pakistan. When all three sat together, President said, “I don’t know the legalities, but all what I would like to say is that you took suo-moto action against the privatisation of Steels Mills. I believe in the dignity and honour of the Supreme Court. So, whatever be the judgment, it must not lower your dignity and honour, but remember government is doing a good job for privatisation. Please don’t try to hamper this process.”
Then both the attorney General and Chief Justice discussed the legalities and came out with a mid way solution. Chief Justice himself told President Musharraf that a good via media is brought out and he is going to give this as a decision the next day. Then Chief justice went to the bench and told that President himself has decided to cancel the privatisation of Steels Mills. So, without any idea of betrayal, 12 member bench of Supreme Court gave exactly the opposite decision to what expected by the government.
In 1985, soon after being established, it was planned to increase the productive capacity of Pakistan Steels Mills Corporation (PSMC) to 2.2 million tons annually to make it economically feasible. Unfortunately, the successive governments did not take personal interests and concerns in this project and finally the debt over Steels Mills reached to 19 billion rupees till year 2000 and the amount required for increasing its productive capability reached more than 200 billion rupees. The biggest challenge after 12th October 1999 coup was to bring Economic stability in the country. Musharraf did manage to convince Shoukat Aziz to resign from City Bank and to come back to Pakistan and serve the homeland. The economic situation was like a nightmare. Foreign reserves were remained only 0.7 billion dollars and sanctions were upon Pakistan due to nuclear explosions. No one was willing to take ‘risk’ of investing in Pakistan. After military coup, the situation was even more difficult. It worried Shoukat Aziz, but he accepted the challenge. He made a win-win policy for economic revival. The core of the policy was deregulation, liberalisation and privatisation. It worked well, and a confidence of investors recovered in Pakistan. Even during those years after 9/11, when Pakistan and Indian armed forces were alert stand by on borders with eye to eye balls contact, investment did not stop coming in Pakistan and Stock Markets shown good trends. Things were going fine and in the positive direction, but the suo moto action by Chief Justice hampered the overall process by shaking the confidence of the investors.
The day when decision came out was surely very shocking for the government. President Musharraf himself had visited China and Saudi Arabia to convince them to invest on PSMC. Finally after many years, his efforts bore fruits and he got able to convince Saudi Arabia based Al Tawairqi Group of Companies to invest in PSMC. In May 2006, an open auction held in Islamabad and Al Tuwairqi Group submitted a winning bid of $362 million for a 75 per cent stake in PSMC. It was being privatized in the profit of $ 13 million (without solding the land of Steels Mills). Due to the opposite decision of Supreme Court, hundred million of dollars which were lying in our banks by Mr. Tuwairqi to invest on PSMC and to establish another steels mills were brought out of Pakistan. Disappointed by the decision, Mr. Tuwairqi told everyone to wind up and went out, as investing in this country is not safe. This was again a great shock for Pakistan’s Economy. Without wasting a single moment, President Musharraf rung up Mr. Tuwairqi and requested him not to change his mind for investing in PSMC. Unfortunately, after having a bitter experience of Supreme Court’s decision, Mr. Tuwairqi excused to invest on PSMC. This was what Mr. Iftikhar Chaudhry did with the Economy of Pakistan, but his ‘media managers’ applaud his decision as his national achievement.
Presidential Reference against Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP):
Print and electronic media in Pakistan is used to remain very active and in search of any thrilling story soon after its independence given by President Musharraf. Mr. Ansar Abbasi (The News) investigated about the Chief justice and found that always a favour was given to his son Dr. Arsalan Chaudhry, directly by the orders of CJP himself, which were mostly not on merit at all. Due to unknown reasons, he did not public this story. However, he slipped his tongue in Geo’s famous ‘Capital Talk’ in early 2007. Kamran Khan, from Geo, also brought Dr. Arsalan on telephone call in early 2007, asking about the news against him. Dr. Arsalan, the son of CJP denied the news and told media that he is going to Court to defend these allegations. CJP anxious about media reports raised this matter to President Musharraf in his meeting with him on 13th February 2007. President instructed the investigation agencies to explore the realities behind these reports. The famous letter from Naeem Bukhari stimulated the issue even more. When the investigation completed, the findings were very shocking for President. They all were going against CJP. It revealed that not even the allegations of media about his son are true but also more serious findings were brought into notice of President Musharraf, including his personal corruption and greed for protocol, for which he was not entitled for. It all worried President. CJP had been used to visit President in his office and house many times, even with his family. There was nothing wrong in the personal terms and relations between the both. President Musharraf, at this moment, however had to decide what to select. Either he had to prefer personal relations or to follow the legal course of actions.
On 7th march 2007, Prime Minister Shoukat Aziz advised him to send the findings to Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) in the form of reference to decide for the fate of CJP. Justice Jehanzeb Rahim of Peshawar High Court also filed a reference against CJP in his letter to President. This was the time, when CJP highly informed about this progress, rung DG MI, Major General Mian Nadeem Ijaz on 7th March 2007, and requested him to get the copy of reference and to hand over it to him. Next day, CJP called Abdullah Yousaf, Chairman CBR in his chamber at Supreme Court to discuss the same issue of reference being filed by Justice Jehanzeb. CJP asked Chairman CBR to favour him by making clarification to president that he was not at fault over the allegations written by Justice Jehanzeb. On the same 8th march, CJP also rang military secretary (MS) of President Musharraf to arrange an urgent meeting with president the next day. Although President was due to leave for Karachi on 9th March, to participate in the Pakistan Navy exercise “Aman 2007”, but MS rescheduled the program and asked CJP to visit by 1130 hours on 9th March at camp office of the President’s secretariat. The same night, CJP rang DG MI to be present in camp Office to assist him. On 9th March, during meeting, President informed CJP about all the findings of investigations, and asked for the clarification of his position. President told CJP that he was going to forward the findings to Supreme judicial Council. Realising that the findings are embarrassing for CJP, he gave him a way out as a courtesy move, saying, “If you find the hearings of SJC below your dignity and honour, then you can resign to avoid the case.” CJP said that he would face the allegations in SJC and would defend himself. President then signed the reference and officially it was sent to SJC for hearings.
This was what happened. Unfortunately, the media and political parties developed strange perceptions and hype was created all around the country. No one on media ever read and present the material filed in reference. There were serious allegations against the CJP. Question is whether CJP above law? Should there be no forum for his accountability? Even President is not above law. There is a procedure written clear in constitution regarding his impeachment. The media and the lawyers of CJP escaped themselves out of hearings of SJC, by using the political and media fronts, making false perceptions. By claiming that a ’dictator’ sitting in ‘Army House’ has ‘summoned’ CJP and ‘threat’ him to resign, totally wrong environment is developed, which hijacked the minds of public, and a civil disobedience sort of movement is sponsored in streets and roads of Pakistan, labelled under ‘lawyers Movement’, powered by political parties and media.
Let us check whether President Musharraf had followed the constitutional path or not.
(1) – In the exercise of his functions, the President shall act in accordance with the advice of the Cabinet (or the Prime Minister).
(1) There shall be a Supreme Judicial Council of Pakistan, in this Chapter referred to as the Council.
(5) If, on information [from any source, the Council or] the President is of the opinion that a Judge of the Supreme Court or of a High Court,
(a) May be incapable of properly performing the duties of his office be reason of physical or mental incapacity; or
(b) May have been guilty of misconduct,
The President shall direct the Council to [or the Council may, on its own motion] inquire into the matter.
At any time when-
(a) The office of Chief justice is vacant; or
(b) The Chief justice of Pakistan is absent or unable to perform the functions of his office due to any other cause,
The President shall appoint [the most senior of the other judges of the Supreme Court] to act as Chief justice of Pakistan.
So, what President Musharraf did was simply the constitutional route followed. There were media allegations about the misconduct of CJP. CJP even himself asked President to make enquiry about them. The investigations were being made. Prime Minister advised Mr. President to send the findings to Supreme Judicial Council. Under article 48 of constitution, President was bound to act upon the advice of Prime Minister. Meanwhile CJP himself asked to visit President at Camp Office of President’s Secretariat. CJP was informed about the findings. He was willing to face the charges in SJC. Under the article 209, it was mandatory for President to send the reference to SJC, which he did.
What was unconstitutional in all that? Is Chief Justice above law? Or constitution can be hijacked by the rallies and public movements.
Unfortunately, what happened next made the social fabric of our society turned towards the worst and more worst. Supreme Judicial Council started hearings. CJP and his lawyers escaped the hearings by few excuses. They claimed that the judges of SJC are biased against CJP, and hence they must be changed. Media started campaign that President has nominated his own judges in SJC which was clearly wrong and false perceptions. The SJC was composed exactly according to the constitution, including the acting Chief Justice, two next most senior judges of High Court and two next most senior judges of Supreme Court. Then highly politicised and vocalised Aitzaz Ahsan, being invited frequently on the media channels used every tactics to provoke the feelings of public against President Musharraf and turning public in favour of CJP. The issue was sub judice and it was the contempt of court to speak about such issues live on TV channels, but everyone utilised the media forum to stimulate the public sentiments towards the movement of civil disobedience. There happened a chaos and anarchy everywhere in Pakistan. President Musharraf said hundreds of times, that whatever be the decision, would be acceptable to the government. Taking this as a weakness of him, the highly politicised lawyers of CJP made such an environment that the hearings of SJC was stopped and the petition to stop its hearing was brought into the Supreme Court. Finally, after much mess, Supreme Court gave a verdict in the favour of CJP and he was reinstated on 20th July. Everyone applaud it well, not mentioning that Supreme Court had not given any importance to the charges filed under the reference. It was not fair at all, but being a verdict of Supreme Court, President Musharraf welcomed the decision.
Besides the ‘victory’ of reinstating CJP, the track record of so called ‘Lawyers Movement’ is so embarrassing. Let us have a brief over view how this ‘victory’ is being made and how throughout, lawyers have behaved;
1-Lawyers hijacked the accountability of CJP in SJC bypassing the Article 209.
2-Contempt of Court, being made every day by speaking live on TV channels against a sub judice issue.
3-Making allegations on the brother judges of biasness and personal interests just to escape the hearings of SJC.
4-Climbing at and breaking the gates of Supreme Court, just to pressurize the government and creating law and order situation by fighting with security forces and police.
5-President Supreme Court Bar Association Muneer A. Mailk forced the lawyers to join the so called Lawyers’ Movement by starting cancelling the membership of Bar Association of those lawyers who are not joining this brigade.
6-Attack on Khalid Ranjha (Government’s counsel) by lawyers when he was stepping out of hearing of SJC.
7-Attack on the car of Waseem Sajjad (Government’s counsel) by the lawyers when he was on his way to attend SJC hearing.
8-Attacking and beating a journalist by lawyers in the square of Supreme Court, just because he had published some material against the CJP.
9-Attacking and beating Advocate Naeem Bukhari in the quad of Supreme Court by lawyers.
10-When Prime Minister Shoukat Aziz went to submit the nomination papers of President Musharraf in Election Commission for Presidential elections 2007, lawyers surrounded the election commission, and Prime Minister remained under siege by these lawyers’ brigade for hours.
11-Throwing black poisonous acid on the face of Mr. Ahmed Raza Qasuri (Government’s Council) by a lawyer in the premises of Supreme Court. If he had no eye glasses on face, God willing, he might lose his sightedness.
12-Attack of hundreds of lawyers on Sher Afgan Niazi. God saved his life in this horrible incident.
13-Strikes by the lawyers of the courts. Common people are suffered by much inconvenience waiting for judges and lawyers to entertain their cases.
14-Long rallies (extending even to 40 hours) by CJP and lawyers turning a sub judice case to highly politicised campaign.
After few days of apparent silence, the restored CJP again started making personal bravado against President Musharraf, security agencies and intelligence agencies. A long list of suo moto actions were made every day to paralyse the functioning of executive, legislative and law enforcement agencies. Knowing that people and media of Pakistan are supporting the actions of CJP, he did every possible thing to embarrass the government. Suo-moto action against the traffic jam in Karachi is just an example of the attitude of a person who has nothing to care about the ills growing in own judicial system. He did nothing for making improvement in the courts. Cases still were going for 20, 20 years but he did not take any steps for betterment. Once, Geo TV’s famous show “Gumnaam” showed a spy camera video of the case of bribery by one judge, but CJP did not take any action against this judge. On the other hand, the channel was charged by the contempt of court and asked to make open apologies. CJP did not take any notice of any of the illegal activities of lawyers, like beating and attacking on Naeem Bokhari or spraying of acid on Ahmed Raza Qasuri’s face. He did nothing to stop the illegal activities of Qabza mafia or No. 2 drugs etc. He never took suo moto actions against those militants who were threatening the barber shops or Cds shops. He never did care of those extremists who were blasting girls’ schools. Not caring of his own rallies, which even extended over 40 hours, he did take suo moto actions of traffic jams. Then, he started embarrassing the chiefs of intelligence agencies in courts. Once he said, “Not only you, I would even bring General [Musharraf] in my court.” He released first so called missing person after being reinstated, named Qari Abdul Basit, who was charged of the assassination attempt on General Musharraf. Supreme Court took suo moto action against Red Mosque operation. CJP in open and strong words spoke against President of this operation. Government, law enforcement forces and intelligence agencies were highly demoralised. Supreme Court started hearing the petition against the eligibility of President Musharraf to be a candidate for next term of President. Earlier, Supreme Court rejected the petition but later again started hearing the same like petition. Then, Supreme Court allowed President to be a candidate for Presidency, but bound the election commission not to announce the result. The sword of uncertainty remained hanging over the heads of the nation. After Presidential elections, Supreme Court tried to extend the decision by all possible excuses. It seems a mockery with the nation, that the hearing of petition against president’s eligibility was announced to be pending for even 10 days, just because one of the judges of the bench was going to attend the wedding of his daughter. Not only this, three times, CJP changed the compositions of bench listening the case of eligibility. It all was self evident that Supreme Court was simply planning not to allow President Musharraf to continue holding his office any more. Supreme Court was just delaying the decision against him till 15th November 2007, till the term of National assembly get completed and President Musharraf then had remained by no chance of making any amendment in constitution by the assembly. It all was nerve stressing and alarming for President. He had waited long for the full decision regarding the reinstatement of CJP to be announced by Supreme Court. Supreme Court was bound legally to release full decision in 90 days, but this period also passed without having the issuance of the full decision. Moreover, constitutionally Supreme Court was even not given by the mandate to entertain any petition against the President’s elections.
Article 41 (Clause 6)
The validity of election of the President shall not be called in question by or before any court or other authority.
Making the clear violation of constitution, Supreme Court was entertaining the petitions against President and was trying much to delay the decision till 15th November. Meanwhile, a bloody campaign of suicide attacks stimulated with so much acceleration in settled districts of Pakistan. Intelligence agencies and law enforcement forces were cornered by Supreme Court and all the fragments of the society. A form of civil war was going to develop in Pakistan. Government was in the state of semi paralysis. The general elections were near in few months. All the self exiled politicians were returning back to Pakistan with having strong lobbies behind in West. Under such state of affairs, ISI reported something very important and alarming. It was about the secret meeting of Aitzaz Ahsan with Mr. Khalil ur Rehman Ramday in the Geneva, Switzerland. This meeting was very meaningful in understandinmg what Supreme Court was planning to do with Musharraf. The case of eligibility of President was in court. Khalil Ramday was heading the bench. Aitzaz Ahsan was representing himself in court against the eligibility of Musharraf. It was legally very undesirable to set secret meetings between the judge and a lawyer. There were also various indications and reports about the foreign money involved to promote all that lawyers’ campaign. Reportedly this money was going to Aitzaz Ahsan through various channels, mostly including few NGOs and human rights’ activists. There were also the reports of Aitzaz’s undisclosed visits to India during all that campaign. Justice Rana Bhahwandas’s famous statement in very start of all that reference’s episode, “Soon, we would give good news to nation” was also something important to read between the lines.
All of a sudden, suspicions against the role of Pakistan in war against terror were being floated in international media. International community started speaking against Pakistan and starting asking for restoration of Democracy in Pakistan. To promote the dangerous agenda against Pakistan, ‘Newsweek’ magazine came out with a title story, “Most dangerous nation in the world is not Iraq or Afghanistan. It’s Pakistan”. Pakistan’s nuclear status was under a deadly threat. Ground field was well set to announce by world powers that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are not safe and that terrorists could take control of them. Although IAEA had already announced that chapter of nuclear proliferation is closed for Pakistan, but Benazir Bhutto coined a strange statement that she could allow the access of international agencies to Dr. A.Q. Khan and that she could allow American forces to operate in Pakistan’s tribal areas. On one side, a well planned campaign was going on, and on the other hand Economy of Pakistan started suffering negative trends for the first time in last many years.
President Musharraf tolerated all that but finally when he found that things are slipping away from the hands of Pakistan, and that inaction at that time would lead to total chaos and destruction and the irrecoverable damage to Pakistan, he finally decided to impose the state of emergency on 3rd November 2007. Judges were offered to take oath under new PCO. Many judges accepted this offer and many refused. Those who refused, including Iftikhar Chaudhry, started a new version of Lawyers’ movement.
Let us see what constitution allowed President Musharraf at that time.
Article 232 (1)
If the President is satisfied that a grave emergency exists in which the security of Pakistan, or any part thereof, is threatened by war or external aggression, or by internal disturbance beyond the power of a Provincial Government to control, he may issue a Proclamation of Emergency.
Article 270 AA (3)
All proclamations, President’s orders, Ordinances, Chief Executive’s orders, laws, regulations, enactments, including amendments in the Constitution, notifications, rules, orders or bye-laws enforce immediately before the date on the date which this Article comes into force shall continue in force until altered, repealed or altered by the competent authority.
What more to be lost?
We must see what Pakistan has achieved so far and what has been lost after the campaign of lawyers. Unfortunately, it seems that we have lost everything, and achieved nothing. Pakistan’s Economy is out of business now. Pakistan is now on the list of most insecure countries. Pakistan’s institutions are breaking up. Rotten politicians are back on stage. Most corrupt and incompetent leadership is on the charge of government. Pakistan’s armed forces and intelligence services are maligned nationally and internationally. Pakistan’s nuclear status is at stake. What more wrong and what more horrible can be expected.
So far no movement or strong demonstration is made against the extremists and terrorists. Civil society and human rights activists are used to speak against them in very soft words, usually on TV screens, but not in roads. All the focus is to speak against former President, armed forces and intelligence services, which indirectly is meant to strengthen the anti-state elements. The duality of media political parties is well exposed since 2007. First, it was said that General Musharraf is not going to remove his military uniform etc, but he appointed new army chief. Then, was said that he is not going to lift state of emergency, but he lifted it up. Then, was said that general elections would be rigged for favourable results, but the entire world observed that elections were the most free, fair and peaceful. Media broke much news that former President is going to fly away Pakistan in 48 hours, but all was bogus. Then it was said that President is going to dissolve the assemblies, but even it did not happen. On the other hand, political parties are well naked as well. The same PPP, which supported Lawyers’ Movement with full energy, started speaking against this movement after being elected. Mr. Zardari signed thrice the agreements for restoration of judges, but then refused it. The time, when Lawyers’ Movement was having last breaths, the decision of Supreme Court regarding the disqualification of Sharif brothers, ignited it again. Things are crystal clear. Lawyers used the politicians and later PML-N used the lawyers for their vested interests.
All patriotic Pakistanis must open their eyes and must smell the conspiracy behind. CIA and RAW are fully active and involved behind all that mess. They had set well their assets in media to promote anarchy and disinformation in Pakistan. Media has done nothing in discouraging the extremism and terrorism. Media has promoted the international campaign more than them. The focus and concern is shifted from the issues of national interests. No one cares of the economic fall down. No one asked where the foreign reserve of 16.7 Billion dollars has gone down to 5 billion dollars in few months under democratic government. No one asks for the reason why we are forced to beg IMF. No one asks why Dr. Samar Mubarik had been forced to leave his seat. No one cares of the funds of Nuclear and missile research program being cut by more than 50 %. No one cares from where Baitullah Mehsud of Waziristan is getting satellite information and weapons and suicide jackets. No one is caring of the separatist organisations in Baluchistan. Media is not telling us that for 7 months, the funds of paramilitary and police of NWFP is stopped by the government and that Pakistan armed forces are supplying weapons to them. Media would never tell about the holiday being announced by Chief Minister Balochistan, Aslam Raeesani on 15th August 2008 to synchronise it with Indian Independence Day. Media is not focussing about the drones attacks on tribal areas. What media is speaking for is just about the lawyers’ movement. So that Pakistani nation never has been able to think of any other issues, which are far important for the sovereignty of Pakistan.
It’s all a psychological war. Nation must open their eyes. We must not been misguided by the propagandas and perceptions. Our enemies have played a dangerous double game. We must not give them any impression that Pakistan is going through a situation of civil war and disintegration. We must not suffer paralysis through analysis. We must stand for Pakistan armed forces in such state of affairs. Pakistan is not ready for British form of democracy. Pakistan is more important than democracy or constitution. Human rights, civil liberties, democracy and constitution are just the part of nation. Nation is not the part of them. We must safeguard Pakistan. Pakistan comes first.
Mr. Iftikhar Chaudhry would back in his office soon as a chief justice, as announced by Prime Minister Gilani. PML-N’s pressure tactics win. Army Chief again has shown patience and resolution to avoid playing any role in politics. But game is not ended. It’s just a start. Time not always remain the same. Future would decide about it and about the role of Mr. Iftikhar Chaudhry. There still are many constitutional and legal issues before CJ joined his office. Would he take oath under PCO? What would be the fate of those judges who have taken fresh oath PCO? Would he give the favour to those, who supported him or he would demonstrate the neutrality. Would he take the notice over NRO, when the case against it would start in Supreme Court? Would he take actions against those judges who took oath under PCO on 3rd November 2007? Would he like to reform the session courts, high courts and Supreme Courts? Above all, would he like to proof that the findings in Presidential reference were not correct and that he is not guilty of anything wrong. What if the disqualification of Sharif brothers remained hold? Would PML-N again start the violent campaign? What about those countries and the guarantees involved, which made reconciliation just before sit in (Dharna).
Let us end this article by the last words of letter of Naeem Bukhari to CJP,
“My Lord, we all live in the womb of time and are judged, both by the present and by history. The judgment about you, being rendered in the present, is adverse in the extreme.”