Justice or Hypocrisy?

This past decade has witnessed a significant change in the socio-political dynamics of Pakistan. The revival of democracy , restoration of Judiciary and the 2013 transition of power were all major contributors to this change. But the return of the ‘Commando’ on 24th March 2013 brought with it a test of nerves for the soon to be elected Sharifs. Musharraf vowed to save the country and uphold the trichotomy of power this time through a political struggle, only to be buried under a tirade of legal complications solely in the name of justice. Trial under Article 6 of the Constitution was labeled as ‘historic’ by some but do we really acknowledge its historic importance? Is it really intended to provide justice or is it something else? Revenge?

For those people incognizant of Musharraf’s trial, he has been indicted for high treason under Article 6 of the Constitution, read with Section 3 of the High Treason (Punishment) Act 1973. This presumed preservation of the ‘Rule of law’ was celebrated in many quarters especially those directly affected by the November 2007 emergency.  However the most riveting thing to be noted is the convenient blind eye turned by the corridors of power towards the 1999 coup d’état by General Musharraf. Was the Nov 2007 emergency a prodigious threat to the constitution as compared to the 1999 takeover?

Article 6 when scrutinized by a lay man concerns the basic principle of high treason as stated in clause 1 . For those of you not belonging to a legal background Article 6 as amended under the 18th Amendment further states in clause 2 that any person aiding or abetting any act of high treason would equally be liable for high treason. Clause 2A further extends that an act of high treason mentioned in clause (1) or clause (2) shall not be validated by any court including the Supreme Court and a High Court.

“Aiding” or “Abetting”, these 2 words somehow answer our question as to why the ‘coup’ is not considered as high treason on Musharraf’s part. May 13, 2000: Honorable Supreme Court of Pakistan ‘unanimously’ validates Musharraf’s coup on the basis of “doctrine of necessity”. The Apex court further conferred the power on the then army chief to single-handedly amend the Constitution. Clause (2A) moreover complicates the matter. Therefore integrating the 1999 coup in Musharraf’s trial under Article 6 would indicate questioning the superior judiciary. There! I said it, enough to indict me under Article 204 (contempt of court). But can a court be in contempt of itself?

Enter the ‘Lord Denning’ of Pakistan, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudry. Best known for his suo-moto actions and the supposed quick disposal of justice the CJP was seen hell bent to get Musharraf to face the wrath of law. But was it really rule of law or mere indignation? Facts might suggest the latter.

It took one short order to stagger the entire revival of democracy when the incumbent Prime Minister was sent packing nevertheless sense prevailed on the then in power Pakistan People’s Party to avoid the skirmish with the judiciary. Yet the seemingly indomitable CJP dare not   question musharraf’s actions in 1999 but was alternatively insistent and rather expeditious in promulgating the illegality of the November 2007 emergency imposed by the General. This was not done out of love for effectuating justice but maybe because the emergency had primarily targeted justice chaudry himself or maybe because the Supreme Court’s endorsement of the coup will have to be impugned.

As the saying goes ‘Every man for himself’ sad is the fate of our beloved country as its executive bodies religiously abide by this policy. The common man knocks the doors of justice but in vain as the guardians of law are busy settling personal scores.

Till today the synopsis of our country remains unchanged. Time has seen the practice being adopted of summoning the Chief Executive of the country elected by the Majlis-e-shoora, to the apex court. Special courts  being constituted to indict a former Chief of the Army. Yet there is not even the slightest mention of the Ex-CJP appearing before a judicial commission comprising the current reigning Chief Justice, in order to answer allegations pertaining to malpractice in the 2013 general elections.

Somewhere in between this ‘Game of thrones’ Jinnah’s Pakistan lays abandoned.

It obligates me to agree with Jalib sahib “Aese dastoor ko, subh e be noor ko, mein nahi manta, mein nahi jaanta”.

Syed Kaswar Gardezi

Author: Syed Kaswar Gardezi

The writer is a student of law at the University of London and an intern at a Lahore based law firm.