Objection, m’lord! | Pakistan Today

Objection, m’lord!

Rein in the rabble-rousers, please

At the end of the first day of the Supreme Court hearing for the contempt notice issued to the prime minister, there was both relief and concern. Relief, because the panic over whether the contempt notice could be the harbinger of the prime minister’s exit from his post, subsided as the issue seemed to be proceeding along legal grounds. However the issue of concern that stared us in the face as our Dunya News team spent hours on the Supreme Court premises covering the high priority story for millions of Pakistanis, was one of the violation of the sanctity of the Supreme Court.

And ending of this violation, is in the hands of the Chief Justice of Pakistan, who is also the administrative head of the Supreme Court.

In the clear view of dozens of television cameras and even more journalists, contrasting with the inside calm of the court room proceedings was the stormy and aggressive sloganeering, taking place at the main door of the Supreme Court building. To our surprise, a partisan position was adopted and projected by some lawyers who began with raising pro-CJP slogans. Some lawyers responded with pro-PPP slogans. And then the crowd of pro-CJP lawyers began to expand as more lawyers walking in from the main gate and some agitated one from a side entrance, joined in. Intermittent chants of “Chief teray jaan-nisaar bay shumaar bay-shumaar”, “Hakumat kaa jo yar hai ghadaar hai, ghadaar hai.” were hurled , in louder and more aggressive tones.

Office bearers of the Islamabad bar council led this crowd of lawyers. They have earlier sent out emails and text messages urging the lawyers to come to the SC premises in support of the CJP. The following text message was sent to the Islamabad Bar members, “Respectable Members of Islamabad Bar, come forward and reach Hon’ble Supreme Court of Pakistan on 19.1.2012 at 9AM to show your commitment for the Rule of Law and respect to the Hon’ble Superior Judiciary of Pakistan. Syed Javed Akbar Advocate, President Islamabad Bar…)”. In many cases where the judges did not appear in their court room, the court staff informed inquiring lawyers that only important matters will be heard after 12 since the lawyers were protesting outside the SC. So the gathering on the premises was not merely accidental.

This rallying for the CJP has not only been a consequence of the habit sown in 2007 but indeed of the power play that has since ensued and in which the Supreme Court appears to be a player. However no less may have the government’s approach of dealing with the Supreme Court via Babar Awan sahib’s attacking and aggressive, no less disrespectful, tactics contributed to this lawyers’ politicking for the CJP. The Supreme Court sits in the middle of Pakistan’s politics with the government considering it biased against it while the opposition considers him the man who has a medicinal role for an ailing Pakistan.

While we all await the Supreme Court hearings, there is an important and related issue on which the Honourable Chief Justice should in his own wisdom and his commitment to upholding the dignity of the Supreme Court, pass an immediate order.

Irrespective of which political party or which judge such a gathering supports, it undermines the institutional dignity of the Supreme Court. The CJP surely wants to rise above all divides. He derives his mandate to facilitate the upholding of justice from the constitution, and not from sloganeering lawyers or even from political parties threatening long marches and tsunami marches.

This is not the Pakistan of 2007 in which the populist muscle became imperative because of the military ruler’s violation of the constitution and of the Supreme Court. In today’s Pakistan, the Supreme Court’s intrinsic authority and muscle, which is derived from the constitution itself, must be banked upon.

Now the incumbents too, including the chief executive, have switched to a more respectful and constitutionally mandated-attitude towards the Court. In the days ahead, while there will be intense legal battling within the Court rooms, can we request the Honourable CJP to kindly ban, with immediate effect, all gatherings and sloganeering by lawyers, to send a message to the Pakistanis of his own neutrality and credibility. The constitution and not his jaanisaars should be the source of the Chief Justice of Pakistan’s strength.

The writer is the host of Policy Matters and Director Current Affairs Dunya News. She is also a Fellow of the Asia Centre at the Harvard University.

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  1. TJ Khan said:

    How come this author's sense of outrage did not occur when the Government and its incompetent minions, so pathetically led by Baber Awan, were continually flouting the SC's honor and verdicts over the last 2 years? Those acts were a lot more sinister and destructive for the country and its institutions than this sloganeering. She does refer to Baber's indiscretions in the article but with glove hands.
    Its a shame and disappointment when the senior journalists/media persons start compromising on principles, thereby harming the media's role in nation building. The nation expects better from media.

    • observer from UK said:

      The author of the article is absolutely right to raise her concerns. No one supported Babar Awan's remarks. The outrageous behaviour of the so called lawyers outside the main gate of the supreme court was despicable. What message they were trying to send out to the masses. The appearance of Aitzaz Ahsan as a counsel of the PM was not immoral. The CJP is not sacrosanct or immune to criticism. He is going out his constitutional limits and has clearly taken the side of the jackboots who have done nothing but given misery to this nation.

  2. amjad cheema said:

    Yes this fascism must stop, its deja vu of nazi germany

  3. salman said:

    Shouldn't the same restriction apply to sloganeering PPP jiyalas or are they above decorum. The PPP and their coalition partners also made that day look like a circus sideshow.

  4. NK Ali said:

    a very hard hittibg opinion from a widely respected and erudite lady. TV channels must be feeling the envy.
    Whereas the CJP acquires his powers from the Constitution and has been neutral in his dealings, have the political parties and their supporters understood this? NO! They are still adhering to their street goondaism of yesteryears, which will be some time in curing. But then, alternately, this is the only language understood by the PPP lawyers. This had to be done to shut them up. (Act of Neccessity?). Yes!
    When the decisions will be implemented in the spirit of the judgement, that will be the time the people of Pakistan will have gone a step further in civility. The army has shown its obeisance to the law and must be appreciated. Salams to Pakistan

  5. Khawaja Rehman said:

    the CJP is no longer impartial. He is no different from the 'Justice' Dogar, "Justice' Muneer, etc.
    Analysis points towards a very pertinent point. It seems that CJP wants power sharing with the govt. and he is ready to collaborate with the generals, if his power sharing guaranteed.

  6. Shahid Malik said:

    A very balanced analysis by Nasim Zehra. Personally, I do not think Chaudhry will discourage lawyers from raising slogans in his favour. He is a highly politicised Judge. The way he selectively takes up specific cases and the kind of relief he gives is evidence enough. The tragedy is compounded when he does not make even a cosmetic correction of his behaviour.

  7. Khadim Hussain said:

    I support Shahid Malik viiews and congratulate Naseem Zehra for this article being the voices and aspirations of the people of Pakistan looking for a balanced society with politics free judiciary.

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