Ever since the restoration of the judiciary, the Supreme Court has been a lightning rod for controversy with some arguing that it had finally become an equal branch of the government, while others felt it was unfairly hounding it and acting as a virtual proxy of the military. The jury is still sceptical of the intentions of the Supreme Court but its words and actions in the case of the Adiala prisoners, who were picked up by intelligence agencies — suggests — that the Court intends on using its power to hold everyone accountable. In a stunning diatribe, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry said that the ISI and MI are not superior to the civilians, that they cannot consider themselves unbound by the law and the constitution. To say that the Chief Justice’s words are unique in their unflinching honesty would be an understatement. It finally seems that we have a Supreme Court which is ready to deal with issues squarely.
The next step for the Court should be to follow its words with equally forceful actions. The logical follow-up would be to summon the heads of these intelligence agencies and ask them why they have permitted such lawbreaking measures to continue unabated. If they refuse to show up, then they, like the prime minister, should be threatened with contempt of court. The PPP government has so far not shown an appetite for taking on the military and the intelligence agencies, instead, it has left unmonitored the practice of picking up people and dumping their bodies after torturing them. Whether the Supreme Court can end the lawless rule of the intelligence agencies is open for debate since this is something no one has been able to do in our history. That they are trying should somewhat silence critics of the Court.
It is also very heartening that the Chief Justice castigated the agencies for having “set Balochistan on fire”. He had little time for the argument that the violence in the province has been ignited by foreign interlopers and placed the blame squarely on the agencies’ shoulders. This, too, needs to be followed-up with accountability and, more importantly, verdicts which show that the intelligence agencies are now firmly within the ambit of the law.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2012.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ