A needed address

Chief Justice (CJ) of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry is making his presence felt outside the courtroom as well. In what can only be called a remarkably candid address to the officers of the Command and Staff College in Quetta, the CJ spoke of many things, most prominent of which were the ravages of our political system. He cautioned his audience to preserve the sacred oath they had taken to protect their country at all costs and to defend the constitution. In a rather honest overture, he reminded the army officers that the political system in the country had been overwrought with military interventions and that these stunted the growth of democratic institutions.

These are all truthful words and it is encouraging to see the highest judicial voice in the land rising to address these issues. However, there are many things that have been left unsaid for too long where these matters are concerned and this address, while honest and fair, did not delve into the details and the reasons for the constant circumventing of democracy in this country. When the CJ mentioned that military interventions have cut short the democratic process, he did not talk about the fact that, throughout the years, it has been the judiciary that has been complicit whenever a coup has been staged. Democracy in Pakistan is like a festering wound, one that, when it starts healing, the gauze of the political process is ripped off and the wound is left to bleed again. Not just the military, but the political leaders, who have made their parties their own personal fiefdoms of dynastic rule, have also given democracy a superficial cover. Consolidating the process of democracy and making strong the political process must be taken up in earnest by these very forces, not remaining silent, indifferent or acting in a manner that prevents democracy from taking root.

If this was a motivational speech, the CJ should have outlined a few other basic points. He should have asserted that the post-2007 independent judiciary would not remain silent at or complicit with any military adventurism and that the bureaucracy, that has loyally served itself and its perks all these years, should be a servant of the democratic process and the people. He should have outlined that it is vital that fresh blood be introduced into the political arena by holding intra-party elections and putting an end to dynastic politics. Everyone has a part to play in upholding the virtues of democracy and it is important that a voice like that of the CJ keep reminding the people, the military, judiciary and the politicians of these sorry facts from our history. – Dailytimes