Whither the winter of discontent?
As top lawyers from regional states gather in Lahore to attend a three-day international conference, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has rightly stressed the need for redefining national security not only in terms of defence but also in terms of people’s security.
The conference titled “Justice for all and impunity for none” has been organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association to provide an opportunity to the legal fraternities of the regional states to discuss and devise workable strategies to deal with identical problems confronting them.
The Chief Justice in his inaugural address emphasised that undiluted adherence to the norms and principles of the constitution and practice of rule of law were keystones to all other requisites of democracy. And he took the opportunity to clear the perception that the role of the judiciary was not that of opposition to other organs of the state but it had to work in collaboration with them to find out the ways to protect human rights and civil liberties.
There’s no doubt that the superior judiciary, being cognizant of its role, has always come to the aid of the suppressed segment of society which has yielded positive results as in the case of the recovery of missing persons. It happened after the apex court had taken suo motu notice of mysterious disappearances taking place in Balochistan and elsewhere in the country. But what appears to be lacking is the proper legislation to cope with such issues and the parliament has not been able to repeal the outdated laws impeding social justice.
The need for redefining national security cannot be over-emphasised. But the fact remains that no amount of defence can keep a nation united without surety to the rights of the people as very rightly pointed out by Chief Justice Chaudhry who referred to the disintegration of the Soviet Union despite being in possession of 20,000 nuclear warheads.
It is time the government shifted its focus from other issues and developed a system of social justice based on the concepts of human rights and, in order to achieve this objective, the state will have to do away with socio-economic disparities and regional imbalances in job opportunities.