Speaking out

The outcry has been caused by the institutions

There is an outburst of criticism of the security institutions, which seems to be caused more by their excess rather than anything else. The speeches at the Asma Jahangir memorial conference in Lahore were not just critical of the government, but also of a particular institution. Former Supreme Court Bar Association President Ali Ahmad Kurd caused a stir by saying that 220 million people were being held hostage by a single general, thus going behind the government to the force that allegedly brought it to power. He was moved to say this because of the recent claim by a former Gilgit-Baltistan chief judge of how the then Chief Justice of Pakistan influenced a high court judge in his presence. This claim was rebutted by the present Chief Justice, Mr Justice Gulzar Ahmad, who said that judgments of the superior courts could not be dictated. However, there is increasing evidence that certain institutions do obtain judgments as they wish, and it seems that the level of interference by these institutions is rising.

Another speech made by pressman Hamid Mir was about how the institutions also dictate newspaper coverage. He spoke about the need for freedom of press, which is part of freedom of expression, as a necessary constituent of the freedom of judiciary, which was under attack. His own example can be joined to that of Asad Toor, whose house was invaded and who was roughed up, and Absar Alam, who was shot, as how the new order is enforced.

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Perhaps the amount of noise that is being made has to do with the increased level of interference, which is probably the result of a sense of impunity. The mission has changed from merely keeping politicians and political governments subservient, to establishing the dominance of unconstitutional forces. The only safe way out would be to allow the rule of law, which includes freedom of expression, and to abandon all further attempts to subordinate the Constitution. This should not be done out of any high-minded desire to establish the Constitution, but because the noise is growing louder, and merely indicates that the task of subordinating an entire people is beyond the ability of those attempting to do so. Despite much effort, the desire for the rule of law has not been rooted out. Someone somewhere should realize that enough is enough, and the institution, indeed the whole nation, is going nowhere with this approach.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]


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