Bilal Qureshi has sent this piece for publication. PTH does not necessarily subscribe to these views. We are publishing this to generate debate in the interest of free speech. Raza Rumi
December 18, 2009
Dear Chief Justice Ifitkhar Chaudhury
It seems you are an activist chief justice, and are quite eager to take up Suo Moto actions supposedly to bring about justice and resolve outstanding issues that confront Pakistan.
Here are some my suggestions to you; three issues that many Pakistanis feel deserve your immediate attention:
1. Initiate Suo Moto action against the people who orchestrated an attack onPakistan’s Supreme Court at the time when the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was about to be disqualified from holding public office. If the issue of NRO, which is insignificant given Pakistan’s other challenges, can be tried and decided with such swiftness, the attack on the Supreme Court that you now chair deserves to be examined as well.
2. Seek and deliver justice to retired Chief Justice Sajad Ali Shah. Otherwise, those Pakistanis who feel your actions in negating the NRO was merely targeted at people from smaller provinces, especially from Sind, will have their fears justified.
3. Institute an independent panel that shall review corruption charges levelled against you by General Musharraf. It will only be fair if an independent body of legal experts, accountability professionals and other law enforcement official reviewed all the facts and evidence against you and make recommendations based on their findings about your suitability as a Chief Justice . Until then you should step aside so that not justice is done.
Chief Justice, are you prepared to appoint an independent panel to review the corruption charges levelled against you by General Musharraf?
Many Pakistanis find it intriguing that there is nothing in your NRO judgment against the people, prime minister and government that helped General Musharraf in creating and establishing the NRO amnesty law. Why is it that those who facilitated and backed the NRO under General Musharraf have not been held liable for their action, notwithstanding the fact they now claim to be against the very law they helped introduce in this country?
I am sure you will understand most Pakistanis feel your actions are not the first time that the Pakistan Army has played a role in undermining a civilian government using NRO or some other such excuse as a cover.
Your critics claim that the labels, the charges, the smokescreen may have change, but the end result has remained the same. For example:
1. ZA Bhutto became a victim of the cooperation between the military and part of the judiciary.
2. Nawaz Sharif was thrown out by the military and his expulsion, especially the second one, was promptly validated by the judiciary to help a military dictator strengthen his grip on power.
3. Benazir Bhutto’s governments were overthrown by the army because she was trying to take put of Pakistan’s foreign policy in the control of parliament and away from the generals.
4. And now President Zardari is being hounded out of pwer by the same forces – the judiciary and army.
Pakistanis understand why whenever a civilian leader, who is also democratically elected, tries to apply brakes on the unchecked growing power of men in uniform, there is always a crisis created, allowing the army to step in, ostensibly to ’save the country.’
Many of us feel what is happening in Pakistan is wrong, and that it should be stopped. The country should not forget that Al-Qaeeda and the Taliban have declared war on Pakistan. We feel that by exploiting heated sentiments, you, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, are playing with fire and your reckless attitude could ignite nationwide flames of hatred, division, and cynicism.
More importantly, if you do not pursue genuine corruption cases against politicians from other parties and provinces, especially PML (N) and PML (Q) with equal zeal and vigour, Pakistanis will have no choice but to believe that the sole purpose of throwing out the NRO amnesty law was to settle scores with President Zardari and General Musharraf at the cost of Pakistan’s future.
Your actions reflect a medieval mindset of revenge and tribalism, not the rule of law that so many of your supporters had expected when they campaigned for your restoration.
Looking forward to the day you appoint an independent panel to review the corruption charges levelled against yourself.