The memogate inquiry shows how political cases are wasting the precious time of the courts and creating one embarrassment after another for the Pakistani state. If media reports are to be believed, the military and the ISI have already backtracked on their earlier zeal to get this issue further explored. The architect of the memo controversy, General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, has retired and one hopes better sense will now prevail. At the same time, the principal character, Mansoor Ijaz, has been exposed as a vacillating, and an unreliable ‘witness’ during the proceedings. Yet, our Supreme Court wants to proceed with the case and the inquiry commission has been given additional time to investigate the unsigned memo.
Mr Ijaz had earlier claimed how Husain Haqqani wanted to become the president of Pakistan with the help of the US. Nothing could be more bizarre than this wild claim, which only indicates the mild psychosis that Mr Ijaz might be suffering from. In fact, by dragging the Indian Kashmiri leader and scores of other parties, Mr Ijaz has indulged in the art of making an allegation and then refuting it the very next day. It is clear, even to Haqqani’s detractors, that his nemesis has little or no credibility.
Haqqani’s request to give his testimony via video link from London has been turned down by the inquiry commission. It has directed him to appear in person as per the terms agreed with the Court. It is important to note that this facility was provided to Mr Ijaz. Thanks to zealous media personnel and their shenanigans (joined these days by the planted social media ‘activists’), Haqqani has already been branded as a ‘traitor’. Given the number of jihadi and ‘patriotic’ lunatics who operate with impunity, Mr Haqqani faces a clear danger in coming to Pakistan at least, until the ‘facts’ of the memo case are established. So far, facts have been a casualty in the entire process.
Earlier, Mr Haqqani was debarred by the Supreme Court from leaving the country; and an extraordinary premium was placed on what the army and intelligence chiefs had said. Haqqani’s lawyer was called a tantrum-throwing lady (forgetting that she herself has faced death threats for her brave activism) and untenable binaries were created between the ‘legal’ and ‘political’ sides of the case. Suffice it to say, the memo case is largely political and every party has had an axe to grind through it — from the media to the opposition leader.
The lawyers’ movement had rekindled the hope that our justice system would be reformed to provide quicker and cheaper relief to millions of petitioners. Thus far, this remains an unrealised goal. Even the lawyers who mobilised as a political force have done nothing to improve how the bars and the profession work. As a mob, the lawyers continue to show how they are completely unregulated and get away with committing violence against the media, police, hapless subordinate judges, not to mention offering prayers for Osama bin Laden.
Citizens have a right to ask why three serving chief justices of high courts are investing huge amounts of their precious time in handling the bizarre claims (and counter-claims) made by Mr Ijaz, when they should be attending to their core mandates of managing the high courts and thousands of subordinate courts. There are roughly 1.2 million cases pending in Pakistani courts and the cost of litigation is soaring due to a virtually unaccountable legal profession and corruption in lower courts. The Supreme Court has time and again reminded us that it is representing the people’s will and is answerable to the people only. Perhaps, nothing is as pressing for the ‘people’ than the denial of justice they are facing.
The Urdu media and internet forums are full of edicts against Mr Haqqani and sections of the establishment feel betrayed by his critical book on the Pakistan military. The least we can do is not to expose a man of his intellect to the rogue elements in the country. For the record, I have never met Mr Haqqani and hold no brief for his past adventures with the intelligence agencies. All I know is that he deserves a fair deal by a country he has tried to serve and defend in difficult times when everyone and his aunt have been wanting to ‘punish’ Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 2nd, 2012.