Thursday, November 8, 2007

Justices Seek Justice

Judiciary, one of the strongest pillars of a state, plays a key role in maintaining a balance between the powers of the executive and rights of the citizens. A strong and independent Judiciary, therefore, ensures the establishment of a vibrant society where every citizen is guaranteed certain fundamental rights.

Judiciary provides the root for maintaining order. It generates the respect for law in the eyes of the citizens. Together, these represent "law and order". It is not possible to keep order in a society where there is no respect for law.

There could be no sustained economic activity without law and order. And without sustained economic activity, there could be no prosperity for the citizens.

A strong Judiciary is, therefore, needed to ensure law and order, to generate sustained economic activity and to achieve the goal of being a prosperous society. Consequently, an independent and strong Judiciary is one of the biggest assets of a vibrant nation.

Pakistan, after 60 years of looming in the dark, finally set its course towards an independent judiciary. For the first time in its history the judges started redressing issues faced by the poor and needy. The transformation was so swift and so real that people, young and old, men and women, would travel hundreds of miles to come to Islamabad to knock at the door of the Supreme Court in the hope of getting justice. This was a hope that was awakening a nation which was in coma for the past 60 years.

And the honorable Justices were committed to deliver. The Supreme Court reduced the load of undecided cases from approximately 32,000 to only 7,000 by March 2007.

All this did not go too well with the dictatorial establishment. The executive arm of the state, for the first time in the history of the country, saw its power being challenged. For the first time it felt that it had to be answerable for its deeds. For the first time it was being forced to operate within the limits drawn by the constitution of Pakistan.

Finally, on Nov 3rd, 2007, Mush's patience gave way and he took the unprecedented step of displacing the Justices of the Supreme Court.

Most Justices (including the Chief Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudry) are still under house arrest in their official residences in Islamabad. Their household workers are allowed to shop for groceries only once a week. They are completely cut off from the rest of the world. Their telephone lines have been disconnected. They do not have any televisions or Internet connection.

The Chief Justice has an 11 year old son who needs constant medical attention. The son is being denied these medical facilities. His daughter was due to appear in an A-levels exam on Wednesday, but was not allowed to leave the house. Eventually, the British Council declared the official residence of the Chief Justice as an examination center to conduct the daughter's exam! There are reports that intelligence agencies are planning to move the Chief Justice from Islamabad to his private residence in Quetta.

Justice Rana Bhagwan Das, confined in his official residence, will not be able to celebrate the festival of Diwali with his family and friends in Karachi.

Justice Javed Iqbal is a heart patient and was experiencing chest pain. He was denied the facility of a doctor for hours.

Another Judge, Justice Sardar Raza Khan has been under house arrest with his entire family. They did not even have groceries and daily supplies in the first few days of the Martial Law.

It is outrageous that an illegal dictator has the cheek to treat the honorable Justices with such disrespect. Indeed, Gen (r) Mush will have to pay for his deeds, both in this world and the next.

For now, the Justices seek justice themselves. But Truth will eventually prevail and Evil will be rooted out.

Justice will soon knock on the door of the Justices. Amen.

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