Not like this, they aren’t.Many in Pakistan prize the independent judiciary and the free media which they consider to be reliable bulwarks against government excesses, social injustice, corruption and military coups. Not that the people never find fault with the two institutions. Most of the people maintain that the judiciary has failed to provide cheap and timely justice to the common man, the Supreme Court gives too much importance to political cases and arbitrarily fixes the priority of the cases it hears while leaving others on the backburner for years. It is also conceded that the media often has a bias and an overall right wing leaning, at times amounting to support of the militants’ cause. There is however a perception that the independent judiciary and the free media have the capacity to rectify their flaws over time. Further, that democracy will fail if these were not preserved and strengthened.While the controversy generated by Malik Riaz has brought the two under attack, it has also raised uneasy questions.Malik Riaz is a real estate tycoon in the category of half a dozen richest persons in the country. He has close relations with the military bureaucracy, government high ups and opposition leaders. He makes no bones while publicly maintaining that he can open all doors by using the money at his disposal.What he has said or done during the last week has shaken the confidence of many in both judiciary and media.While Riaz pretends to have a personal axe to grind with CJ’s son Arsalan Iftikhar, claiming that he has been blackmailed by him, Riaz has cleverly dragged the SC into the dispute in an attempt to malign it. He has moved deviously. First through the media persons who are close to him he spread the story about investing approximately Rs 35 billion in Arsalan Iftikhar. Leaving his henchmen in the media do the dirty work for him, Riaz went abroad apparently or medical treatment.He returned after a few days in the full glare of the media cameras to tell the big story himself. What he said amounted to an indictment of the SC and the CJ. He maintained the SC was held hostage by Arsalan who acted as a don. He dared the CJ to deny that he had met him several times “in the darkness of night” and that the CJ had also met, along with another sitting judge of the SC, Prime Minister Gilani at the residence of one of his business associates. As the SC is hearing a case against Gilani and has ordered investigation against the prime minister’s son, the accusation are meant to defame the CJ and the SC.Malik Riaz has also put the reputation of the media on line. There were already allegations that he patronised a section of the media and had had gifted cars and in one case a villa to chosen journalists.Soon after Familygate burst into the open, accusations started flying amongst the journalist community. Two anchors crossed swords on Twitter, one accusing the other of getting money from Malik Riaz, the other responded by accusing him of working for the CIA.A sordid story of Malik Riaz’s relations with media anchors was released on YouTube on Thursday. A special talk show was arranged for Malik Riaz by Dunya TV. The anchor persons were supposed to tear the tycoon into pieces. What happened was altogether different. The footage reveals that the interview was in fact meant to allow Riaz to fire more salvos on the SC. Mubasher Lucman and Mehr Bukhari are shown receiving instructions from an “unknown” person, asking them not to “interrupt” Riaz during the interview and provide him with unlimited time.What one saw was Riaz directing the entire show, telling the otherwise brash and loud anchors which questions they were to ask and which ones were to be avoided. The way the two were cosying up to the tycoon was simply sickening. One of the anchors continued to pester Riaz with request for a plot like the one allegedly given to another anchor. Questions are now being raised not about the source of the anchors’ wealth but also of the owners of the media houses. How come that a man riding a motor bike a few years back now owns a media empire worth billions of rupees?The superior judiciary has to improve its code of conduct so that respectable judges are not found to have landed themselves in embarrassing situations. Unless it does so, its ability to do good is likely to be compromised. The professional organisations of the journalists have to stem the rot in the media. If this fails to happen a handful of tainted members of the community can play in the hands of the powers that be and cause set back to democracy.The writer is a former academic and a political analyst.