I have said some of this before but given where the country is headed, it bears saying again.
I address this letter to you as a senior citizen, but more than that as a humble servant of Pakistan and of the honourable court over which you preside. I write this letter to you as one who stood outside the Supreme Court and marched on the streets of Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Lahore in the company of my family and friends and fellow travellers, for close to 18 months, demanding the restoration of the judiciary and for the re-establishment of the Rule of Law.
Let me say at the very outset that had it not been for the raw courage with which you stood up to a uniformed army dictator; or for the leaders of the Lawyers Movement, people like Aitzaz Ahsan and Munir Malik and Asma Jehangir and Athar Minallah (not to forget the inimitable and feisty Ghazala Minallah!) to name a few, we the members of civil society may never have come out to protest.
Some days there were only eight or 10 of us, My Lord, what we called the ‘usual suspects’, with more than twice our number watching us: the dictatorship’s goons, taking close-up pictures and making videos of us to unnerve us; some taking notes, others glued to their mobile telephones and walkie-talkies to show us they were making reports for and to the fearsome ‘agencies’.
We were tear-gassed and lathi-charged, our children with us who, choking on tear gas, would ask, “Why are they hitting us, Abba, we are not doing anything bad?” We were out there, My Lord, demanding that you and your brother judges and your families be released from the house arrest under which you and your children were placed. We wrote in the press, agitated the foreign media, did umpteen interviews in your support and generally did all in our little power to face down the dictatorship in civilian garb (and its helpers among the lawyers too, kindly note).
Some days we were forlorn, especially when there were so few of us and the supporters of the dictator, our tormentors, would drive slowly by the Supreme Court steps, where we would be standing in protest, and shout abuse at us and laughingly point out the little numbers that had turned out that day. But we persevered, including my family and I, at least three days a week, despite the fact that we lived in Wah Village and had to bring the child home in good time for homework and rest before another school day.
One cold winter night, we stood for hours outside the Secretariat Police Station in Islamabad to get some of the children, 17 to 20 years old, released from custody. The police had overstepped the normal methods of crowd control that day and had brutally beaten up some youngsters who retaliated, injuring a policeman and an officer slightly.
And then the elections came and the National Assembly met and, as his first act, the newly elected prime minister announced your and your brother judges’ release from house arrest, and we rushed to the Judges Enclave and marvelled at the power of parliament. Remember sir, that the army dictator was still the so-called ‘president’, still armed with 58/2-B. Yet, inside of an hour, all the encumbrances to your residences: the barbed wire across the roads, the barriers, the rocks, the sandbags had all disappeared as if they were never ever there. It was magical, and there was such peace and quiet where there had been riot police armed with weapons and tear gas just hours before that it moved many of us to joyous tears. I saw you for the first time that day, standing on the front balcony of your house acknowledging our cheers. We gave thanks to the Almighty.
It became clear to even the doubters that there was no way forward without unfettered democracy in which the people would be the final arbiters of just who their leaders should be; that elected governments must get a chance to complete their elected terms in office; that the army should have no role whatsoever to play in politics and governance, limiting itself to training (for a most unlikely war) and waiting in the barracks for the next order from the government.
All of which be as it might, I have a humble submission to make. While I will not comment on the much agitated ‘Political Question’ surrounding the case of the Murky Memo which lies before you for adjudication, my only submission before Your Lordship is that if Mansoor Ijaz is considered to have told the truth about exactly who wrote the memo and at whose behest, surely he has spoken the truth about the ISI and its dreaded ‘S’ Section too?
His words, My Lord: “… ISI embodies the scourge of radicalism that has become a cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy. The time has come for America to take the lead in shutting down … an organ of the Pakistani state that undermines global antiterrorism efforts. Pakistanis are not America’s enemies. Neither is their incompetent and toothless civilian government. The enemy is a state organ that breeds hatred among Pakistan’s Islamist masses and then uses their thirst for jihad against Pakistan’s neighbours and allies to sate its hunger for power.”
There is Breaking News too, My Lord: Omar Warraich’s excellent report in The Independent of December 13, 2011: Pakistan’s “Memogate”.
Surely, planning a coup against a constitutionally elected government also attracts Article 6 of the Constitution of Pakistan? Perhaps Your Lordship might like to consider a notice to the DG ISI to submit a reply to these charges too, after placing him on the ECL? Otherwise, sir, that other matter might just look like a lynching.
With profound regards, I am,
Your most obedient servant,
Published in The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2011.