Independent Judiciary and the Future
After the decision of Supreme Court on 20th of July, where the epic Court declared the reference filed against the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry by General Pervez Musharraf as illegal, scores of people expressed their joy with regards to the decision over the media. Their delight was justified. The movement in favor of Chief Justice that started off with marked expression of State brutality, witnessed the bloodbath on the streets of Karachi, and grasped the attention of the people of Pakistan for more than four months finally bore fruit. The judiciary that kneeled down in front of the powers-that-be in Molvi Tameez-ud-din case in the 50’s finally, with the help of the hand extended by the people, stood up to its task envisaged under the Constitution.
There can be no doubt that the Supreme Court’s decision is a landmark one by all means. Its concrete effects on the jurisprudence of Pakistan can only be correctly predicted once the full reasoned judgment is out. Nevertheless, the Court’s decision can have a foreseeable deep impact on the political situation of Pakistan in the near future.
The movement for the complete restoration of Chief Justice mobilized large sections of society. Students, academics, political activists, traders, workers, journalists, doctors, and other professionals – all joined the lawyers in their protest against the military dictatorship. Such speedy mobilization surprised many who had witnessed the passivity of people even in the face of great political shifts. What became remarkable about the ‘Chief Justice movement’, as it was named, was not only that people became politically active, but also that they were ultimately received with success. The citizenry is now more convinced that their struggle can produce results, and, therefore, they will be more willing to struggle for their rights in the future. The pessimist reasoning that ‘nothing will change and everything will remain the same’ is not more a part of the political atmosphere. This air of struggle and optimism, which has become a part of the popular mood, can be highly troublesome for the status-quo in the time of come.
Furthermore, the Supreme Court is also expected to take some very necessary measures of make the atmosphere of Pakistan conducive for democracy and social justice. The pressure of people, of the very same ones who supported the judiciary and standing on whose shoulders judiciary can now bolster about their independence, shall force the judiciary to take out some counter-hegemonic measures, if it wishes to remain in a respectful position. The immediate task of the judiciary is to build a barrier around the activity of notorious intelligence agencies. All the members of the epic Court were being “bugged”, as became evident during the Court proceedings. It can be hoped that the Court will not take some steps in order to inquire into the workings of the controversial network of agencies in Pakistan. This step is not only necessary to maintain the independence of judiciary, but also any pre-requisite for the growth of anti-military political activity.
Also, the time to come is nothing short of political controversies – the elections are expected shortly, and all eyes are going to be on the uniform question. These questions will not only be discussed in the higher echelons of powers, but also amongst the general public, which is more active than before. More people will hit the streets to express their anger at any inclination towards the extension of military rule. All these issues will inevitably land in the Supreme Court for decision, which now not only enjoys the mandate of the people but also their pressure. Therefore, the Supreme Court is expected to play a very crucial role in not so distant future.
In conclusion, the recent decision of the reinstatement of the Chief Justice must be welcomed as part of the larger struggle against military dictatorship and despotism.