Clarity in a fog

Published: June 12, 2018

As warped as it may sound, it took an apex court decree to unblock the computerised national identity card and passport of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf on July 11th. Had that not been done, Musharraf would not be able to return to Pakistan and submit his nomination papers for the 2018 election or even comply with the top court’s directive to attend a court hearing on June 13th. Such a scenario would be bleeding obvious to the average man on the street, yet to our officialdom this was as difficult to comprehend as learning a smattering or more of any obscure language.

And one has to feel a little sorry for the predicament of National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) Chairman Usman Mobin whose presence had to be noticed in the Supreme Court and who had to wait for clear instructions from the chief justice himself on what was to be done about Musharraf’s CNIC and passport. The interior ministry should have known better when it asked NADRA and the Directorate General of Immigration and Passport to suspend the ex-military ruler’s CNIC and passport. One supposes the ministry could always argue it was only complying with the special court conducting the treason trial of Musharraf. This encapsulates the way the state apparatus functions most of the time. It is more concerned with following orders blindly and least bothered about making sense of things. As long as it does this, we will find ourselves and our institutions working at cross purposes. The purpose, as always, should be to serve the cause of justice. By facilitating and not blocking the return of Musharraf, we can do that effectively. Such a stance also draws its utility from the sound principles of fairness and enables people to defend themselves adequately. 

Published in The Express Tribune, June 12th, 2018.

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