PM contempt: 'For whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee'

Published: May 8, 2012

Pity the nation that demands justice for all

but is agitated when justice hurts its political loyalty.

This is part of a long addition Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa made to Khalil Gibran’s Pity the Nation in a six page additional note that was released with the detailed verdict in Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s contempt case.

Justice Khosa, who was part of the seven-member bench that had announced the verdict, says that he is in ‘respectful agreement’ with the proposed judgement authored by Justice Nasirul Mulk.

In a six page addition that he makes to the 77 page detailed verdict, Justice Khosa quotes Khalil Gibran and with “an apology” makes a 321 word addition to Pity the Nation.

He says that Gilani’s conduct in the case is indicative of a bigger malady, one which if not checked or cured may “overwhelm or engulf all of us as a nation.”

Justice Khosa then goes on to quote an extract from For Whom the Bell Tolls by John Donne

Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

Power to the people

Justice Khosa said the ultimate ownership and power of the Constitution, all organs and institutions created under it lies with the people, going on to quote the preamble of the 1973 Constitution:

We, the people of Pakistan ——- Do hereby, through our representatives in the National Assembly, adopt, enact and give to ourselves, this Constitution.

Justice Khosa said that the power to punish a person for contempt of court is also with the people, and through the Constitution they have “entrusted or delegated” this power to the courts.

Emphasising on the power held by the people, Justice Khosa said that in a situation where the executive is bent on defying a judicial verdict and is ready to go to any limit in defiance, it is the responsibility of the people to stand up and defend the Constitution and all organs and institutions to deal with the delinquent appropriately.

It shall simply be naïve to underestimate the power of the people in matters concerning enforcement of their will. The recent phenomenon known as the Arab Spring is too fresh to be ignored or forgotten.

Justice Khosa further cites the example of former president Pervez Musharraf to talk about the power held by the people. He says that Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had refused to obey “unconstitutional dictates” of Musharraf, who had held quite a few divisions. But it was the chief justice who had emerged victorious with the help of the people.

I am not too sure as to how many divisions would a population of over 180 million make!

Collective damnation

Bleak words end the six page additional note. In the conviction of Gilani, says Justice Khosa, lies our collective damnation.

He said Justice Mulk’s order is a step in the right direction as, “It kindles a flame of hope for a future for our nation which may establish a just and fair order, an order wherein the law rules and all citizens are equal before the law.”

The full version of Justice Khosa’s addition to Pity the Nation is below:

Pity the nation that achieves nationhood in the name of a religion

but pays little heed to truth, righteousness and accountability

which are the essence of every religion.

Pity the nation that proclaims democracy as its polity

but restricts it to queuing up for casting of ballots only

and discourages democratic values.

Pity the nation that measures honour with success

and respect with authority,

that despises sublime and cherishes mundane,

that treats a criminal as a hero and considers civility as weakness

and that deems a sage a fool and venerates the wicked.

Pity the nation that adopts a Constitution

but allows political interests to outweigh constitutional diktat.

Pity the nation that demands justice for all

but is agitated when justice hurts its political loyalty.

Pity the nation whose servants treat their solemn oaths

as nothing more than a formality before entering upon an office.

Pity the nation that elects a leader as a redeemer

but expects him to bend every law to favour his benefactors.

Pity the nation whose leaders seek martyrdom

through disobeying the law

than giving sacrifices for the glory of law

and who see no shame in crime.

Pity the nation that is led by those

who laugh at the law

little realizing that the law shall have the last laugh.

Pity the nation that launches a movement for rule of law

but cries foul when the law is applied against its bigwig,

that reads judicial verdicts through political glasses

and that permits skills of advocacy to be practised

more vigorously outside the courtroom than inside.

Pity the nation that punishes its weak and poor

but is shy of bringing its high and mighty to book.

Pity the nation that clamours for equality before law

but has selective justice close to its heart.

Pity the nation that thinks from its heart

and not from its head.

Indeed, pity the nation

that does not discern villainy from nobility.

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Reader Comments (66)

  • Mujtaba Khalid
    May 8, 2012 - 5:56PM

    I thought the respected judge was quoting an Iron Maiden song….which wouldv been pretty bad @$$ btw!


  • ishrat salim
    May 8, 2012 - 5:57PM

    Well said !..Sir….justice for all is the corner stone for the prosperity of a nation…..Recommend

  • Sidrah Saeed
    May 8, 2012 - 6:02PM

    Well, nations made in the name of religion end up like we’ve ended up.Insular,self-righteous,homophobic and misogynistic.Mr.Gibran is pretty much right about all the other stuff but he shouldn’t have glorified religion in his poem.


  • Jahanzaib Haque
    May 8, 2012 - 6:02PM

    @Mujtaba Khalid:
    Metallica bro….. #Fail


  • May 8, 2012 - 6:05PM

    Justice Khosa very rightly summarize what kind of nation we are and also describe our government.We as a nation need to change a lot to stand with the world.Already a lot of countries around us are not willing to walk with us and those who are left will soon shun us because of our behavior.Its high time we learn from our mistakes and take corrective measures soon


  • Arif Khan
    May 8, 2012 - 6:06PM

    After the initial verdict came out,the ruling party sadly resorted to racist hatemongering directed towards punjab.Let’s just hope there are no racist attacks this time.


  • Hassan Bokhari
    May 8, 2012 - 6:13PM

    Why not become poet instead of a judge because it seems like you do the former better than the latter.


  • Falcon
    May 8, 2012 - 6:19PM

    Absolutely loved the poem…says a lot about us as a nation


  • Zeeshan Ahmad
    May 8, 2012 - 6:19PM

    @Arif Khan:

    It’s a time tested strategy of divide and rule.By going after punjab’s division aggressively the ruling party is playing with the emotions of the people in south punjab.Using racial hatred is a convenient strategy of distracting people away from the problem they face because of a government’s corruption and mismanagement.


  • Danish Habib
    May 8, 2012 - 6:22PM

    @Hassan Bokhari:

    Such hatefilled mentality that blindly attacks anyone daring to speak up for truth and justice is the reason our nation is on the decline today.The judge didn’t write this poem if you had bothered to read this post instead of blindly launching into attacks on the judge.


  • Zarrar Khuhro
    May 8, 2012 - 6:22PM

    @Jahanzaib Haque:
    Suitable, considering how many Masters of Puppets we have.


  • ahsan
    May 8, 2012 - 6:25PM

    @Hassan Bokhari:

    No he has done the great job. Had he not given the punishment to a person belong to the party of most Illiterate, incompetent, coward and fool persons (PPP) then you would have been happy.


  • ahsan
    May 8, 2012 - 6:27PM

    This nation is on the verge of complete disaster thanks to Bhutto’s legacy (PPP).


  • Abdul Moiz
    May 8, 2012 - 6:29PM

    It’s time to bring out the Sindh card once again.Whenever ppp gets into trouble it always uses the sindh card and the victim card to manipulate the public to gain sympathy for itself.


  • Talat Haque
    May 8, 2012 - 6:34PM

    What a pity!


  • smj
    May 8, 2012 - 6:34PM

    Another complicated and therefore inefficient verdict that left the nation hanging for days over if Geelani is eligible to hold his seat or not. WHY CAN’T THESE JUDGES SPELL IT OUT AND MAKE CLEAR VERDICTS? look at the unrest their complex judgments are creating for ordinary pakistanis.


  • May 8, 2012 - 6:35PM

    True Picture of ourt nation and our mantality. We hope our kids may see the socity where there would be respect for law and every body wouldl be equal before law, Detail Judgment especially the note of Mr. Justice Khosa sahib strength our belief that a good time is coming. A massage is given through this judgment that even Chief Executive of the Country is not above law.


  • Shahzad
    May 8, 2012 - 6:35PM

    The poet has unknowingly described our society today perfectly,although he wrote this a long time ago.It’s uncanny how perfectly this applies to us today.The only thing bothersome is the portrayal of religion as a force of good or something people should aspire towards.There is no need to glorify religion.Apart from that this poem was truly beautiful.Recommend

  • Usman Ameer
    May 8, 2012 - 6:35PM

    …..”Pity the nation that is led by those
    who laugh at the law
    little realizing that the law shall have the last laugh.”


  • Acorn Guts
    May 8, 2012 - 6:37PM

    Just read the complete note by Justice Khosa. I can honestly say I could feel the pain of a deeply hurt man in his every word. Suffice to say I have no hesitation to reflect his sentiments exactly. Yet, like Justice Khosa, I’d like to retain hope for this nation, one day, we shall throw away this old, demented and vicious political system for good.

    btw @Mujtaba Khalid: That’s a Metallica song .. ouch


  • rehman
    May 8, 2012 - 6:39PM

    what’s that? is this a moral verdict or constitutional? why judges need to put poems to justify constitutional point?


  • Mujtaba Khalid
    May 8, 2012 - 6:46PM

    @internet correct ppl even though it doesnt really matter to them in the slightest brigade….yea I got it wrong ohooo ab kya karoon mein…but Iron Maiden did a pretty sick cover so yea whatever


  • Ahmed HM
    May 8, 2012 - 6:46PM

    Why is it so hard for the liberal readers to accept the fact that truth, righteousness and accountability are the essence of religion, specially Islam. Why do they keep on denying this fact, despite the fact that many of you would have a QURAN KHWANI at their deaths !


    May 8, 2012 - 6:48PM

    Pity the people who should read this and act on it are drunk in their power and don’t care about anyone or anything
    Pity the people who should read this are blind
    Pity the people who should listen to this are deaf
    And Pity on the nation who have leaders who are blind and deaf to the need of the people who bring them to power


  • AmirB
    May 8, 2012 - 6:50PM

    Adding more to Justice Khosa’s addendum to the verdict,
    Pity the Nation:
    Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion.
    Pity the nation that wears a cloth it does not weave, eats a bread it does not harvest, and drinks a wine that flows not from its own wine-press.
    Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero, and that deems the glittering conqueror bountiful.
    Pity the nation that despises a passion in its dream, yet submits in its awakening.
    Pity the nation that raises not its voices save when it walks in a funeral, boasts not except among its ruins, and will rebel not save when its neck is laid between the sword and the block.
    Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox, whose philosopher is a juggler, and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking.
    Pity the nation that welcomes its new ruler with trumpetings, and farewells him with hootings, only to welcome another with trumpetings again.
    Pity the nation where sages are dumb with years and whose strong men are yet in the cradle.
    Pity the nation divided into fragments, each fragment deeming itself a nation.

    Khalil Gibran
    The Garden of the Prophet (London, Heinemann, 1934)

    From Pity the Nation by Robert Fisk


  • Shakil Leghari
    May 8, 2012 - 6:50PM

    Yes,the initial part of this poem is objectionable but i guess praising religions is a way of gaining acceptance and applause from the public.It would have been better if the poet hadn’t done it but still the remainder of the poem is excellent and a sad reflection on our country today.


  • Ali
    May 8, 2012 - 6:51PM

    The judge seems to be a Metallica fan.


  • m.b.f.h.
    May 8, 2012 - 6:55PM

    Your honor! You make me cry!
    I wish I had a poem to answer here with but it's not the time to be funny. The justice just by quoting other writers desperately has shown his helplessness due to the constitutionalism limits.
    What do you think Mr Prime Minister? I think you have done a better job than many others in keeping the government running in all weathers. You sure have won people's hearts & minds, no doubt about that. At this time your generations will benefit from what you have been preparing for___ "the sacrifice".

    To be honest it will be your and your party’s victory alone and nobody’s by boldly making the decision of replacement from the party which your lucky party has no shortage of. PPP has given so many sacrifices in the name of democracy, and this adjustment may become a check for another term in next election as the respect PPP gain in people’s hearts.


  • Hammad Rahim
    May 8, 2012 - 6:59PM

    @Shakil Leghari:

    Praising religion gets poets,politicians,media people,everyone praise and applause from society so everyone does it,that’s why the poet has also tried to present religion as something positive
    we can’t really blame him,he was a human after all and every artist,writer,poet wants adulation and congratulations from his audience and that’s why Jibran sahab added religion’s praises to his otherwise brilliant poem.


  • Was A Pakistani
    May 8, 2012 - 7:00PM

    The way he has written the verdict actually depicts emotions and hence impartiality of judges is in question


  • Its (still) Econonmy Stupid
    May 8, 2012 - 7:02PM

    It is state of the union address from Supreme Court point of view. In my opinion history will be kind to justice Khosa for calling a spade a spade. Jinha could not have said better and these words will echo fo decades to come. If taken seriously can change the course of the nation and can easily be slogan or lightening rod for Pakistan Spring.


  • naeem khan Manhattan, KS.
    May 8, 2012 - 7:04PM

    All I will say that Thank You from the bottom of heart for standing up for the rule of law and service to the nation of Pakistan. You justices made me feel proud and I could hold my head high with pride. I always believed that Pakistanis are intelligent, hard working and up right people if given a chance, it is the leadership whether military or civilian which has failed the nation for the last 60 plus years.


  • roadkashehzada
    May 8, 2012 - 7:04PM

    amazing intellectual touch of judges of pakistan. one example of intelect after long.


  • Dilshad Chandio
    May 8, 2012 - 7:06PM

    Poetry and emotionalism….no recourse to law here. One should be wary of this particular gentleman’s recourse to emotions considering he is the son in law of Naseem Hasan Shah, the jude who sentenced Mr. Bhutto and then acknowledged it was done under pressure.


  • mohammed ali jawaid
    May 8, 2012 - 7:08PM

    well said Judge sahib you hit the right cord! our nation needs such wake up calls. look at the irony, look at the way our simpletons of Multan made a history and voted to victory on the same day to the party against whom the judgment was announced for ridiculing the highest court of the country! pity the Multanis!


  • Syed Hamid Ahmed
    May 8, 2012 - 7:08PM

    Before we start celebrating a poem by a Judge, which is part of a very important judgement, we need to remember, justice is something quite different than poetry, there is reason why Prophet Muhammad (saw) did not liked poetry. Poetry is beautiful and far far away from reality. With regard to judgement in case of PM’s contempt of court. Has justice been served beyond doubt? Aitzaz raised the question that can a complainant be a judge to his own complain? if complainant can and should be a judge to his/her own complain then do we need any courts? If the courts does not address the issue of presidential immunity then PM is rightful to say the court’s order are not implementable, Also what if a court is wrong in its decision? are courts the world of God? if answer is No, then please relax and look at the judgement objectively. Will history call this judgement a fair and unbiased judgement? Also please don’t forget that Pakistan’s judicial history is fraught with questionable judgments all over.


  • Sajjad Haider
    May 8, 2012 - 7:15PM

    That’s a Metallica song, not an Iron Maiden song he was quoting.


  • Singh
    May 8, 2012 - 7:36PM

    Judge is masking his incompetency with poem and every one falling for it. Basic question remain the same. Is president & Prime Minister are immune to any wrong doing or not?
    In all other country they are, as some time they take a painful decision which someone can object to. Instead looking into the core issue they take shortsighted path for cheap publicity. I think every one should look into this matter from outside not with tunnel vision. This verdict will bite every future PM or president with same vengeance.


  • Concerned
    May 8, 2012 - 9:22PM

    ‘Pity the nation’ the honourable judge is spot on in his quote about the present rulers in Pakistan but it is equally applicable to other major establishments as well.


  • Change
    May 8, 2012 - 10:37PM

    it is the right of these most illiterate, incompetent, coward and fool persons to elect their representatives (democracy). we are in a period of transition right now, things are changing. BTW people like you and me only want to comment on the news article instead of voting and bring the change.


  • asim
    May 8, 2012 - 10:52PM

    what is the use of 77-pages , 3-months ? who will read?
    For Justice to be effective it should be short and quick


  • Parvez
    May 8, 2012 - 11:24PM

    Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa – my hero.Recommend

  • Huma
    May 9, 2012 - 12:03AM

    @asim… all the lawyers will read it and it will have effect on judgments as a precedence…. although i dont have a copy yet, so havent read it.


  • Usman
    May 9, 2012 - 12:17AM

    Speechless! We as a nation don’t deserve such a good justice system. Sir, we are beyond repair, leave us to or fate.


  • Hafeez
    May 9, 2012 - 12:32AM

    Couldn’t have been expressed more eloquently and succintly as by this poem


  • asim
    May 9, 2012 - 12:36AM

    A modified version

    Pity the Nation whose leaders are convicted and criminals;
    Pity the Nation that is atomic power & behaves like a Jackal
    Possess vast natural resources but still dependent

    Pity the Nation that proclaims democracy
    but distributed it in the famlies

    Pity the Nation where justice cries for justice
    Pity the Nation where Judges are bookworms
    Courts deliver sermons speeches and statements
    but No decisions
    Where justice is impotenet & favours the elite

    Pity the Nation whose people are oppressed & in chains
    They suffer & suffer but don’t stand & rise


  • wsd
    May 9, 2012 - 12:48AM

    A great judge talks through his/her judgment and this what honorable justice Mr. Khosa has done!!!!!1Hats off to you sir.


  • academic_economist
    May 9, 2012 - 12:50AM

    @asim: if you dont understand how legal judgments work, then please refrain from making stupid comments about them. there is a reason they write long and detailed judgments and i dont have the time to waste to explain you why


  • May 9, 2012 - 12:50AM

    @Zeeshan Ahmad:

    Is there any law to punish who create racial hatred between our own communities.


  • Khosrow
    May 9, 2012 - 12:51AM

    High Five.

    Gilani is no longer our PM.

    Victory to the people, to the SC, and to justice.

    May this be a great day for a new Pakistan!


  • May 9, 2012 - 12:53AM


    Also thanks to Bhutto to break the country into half. we have pathetic leaders an pathetic awam..


  • Ignorant
    May 9, 2012 - 12:56AM

    People were crying for a dissenting note and the learned judge came with a reinforcing note. Salute you for your understanding of what people want.


  • Bilal
    May 9, 2012 - 1:09AM

    Pity the nation, that loves religion but likes the hijackers of Islam like Hafiz Saeed, Hakeemullah,


  • anonymus
    May 9, 2012 - 1:38AM

    Pity the nation
    When you have judges selected by attorney of Qadri
    When judges do not have legal and moral courage to sentence a terrorist.
    When judges cannot decide black and white;is PM disqualified or not?
    when judges cannot say clearly that presdient has immunity but not Zardari!
    when judges cannot take suo motto who arrests them?
    and so on
    if some one remebers that evidence against Clinton was relaease on TV when he was aking an speech in UN. so decision is released the day he left for UK.
    it was authorised by congress commitee not by judges. those wer politicians but are our judges politicains?


  • Fawad
    May 9, 2012 - 1:50AM

    The judgment is a soul searching and biting for those who do not believed in law.Their sole aim is to rule, graft and earn ill gotten wealth at the expense of poor.
    The convicted person was convicted in the past but he does not want to remember history.It is a beautiful judgment and would hurt the corrupt more than honest law abiding citizen.The ppp has always given misery, corruption and never believed in honest practices.
    The sole aim of the ruling party make while sun shines.One can not recollect time when ex prime minster both sons are involved in graft cases, wife involved in getting bank loans washed. It is history of ruling party. The president involved in graft


  • Disco
    May 9, 2012 - 5:12AM

    Justice Asif Saeed Khosa
    …. my hero


  • OS
    May 9, 2012 - 5:53AM

    Where is the justice for all? This is selective justice. I will believe in all this hogwash the day military dictators, their generals and collaborators, stand shoulder to shoulder as equals with our elected politicians humbly before the court.


  • American
    May 9, 2012 - 7:29AM

    eloquent words….. This is an instant classic;

    Summed up so much with elegance.


  • asim
    May 9, 2012 - 8:51AM

    WHAT IS THE USE OF 77-PAGES? what interpretation you make out of it?
    The public opinion can not be attributed as stupid coments; remember this determines the fate of nations….History is full of lessons.


  • Saleem
    May 9, 2012 - 9:31AM

    We may not like this poem but it depicts a true picture of today’s Pakistan. It is mind boggling what rulers, PPP & its coalition partners alike, have done to the country and where they are steering it and still no one seems to care.

    There is no respect for anyone’s life or property, neither there is any law for big crooks. Those who used to claim to protect the judicial system have sold themselves to higher bidder and now undermining it. If they don’t get verdict of their choice then they hurl shoes at judges. Indeed there is no law in a jungle! How long will this go on?


  • ahsan
    May 9, 2012 - 10:33AM


    I didnt vote in the last election becouse there was not a single party which can bring change in the country but this time i will vote becouse there is a party for which i am very much hopeful for a change in system and that is PTI.


  • asim
    May 9, 2012 - 8:31PM

    seems you are a lawyer can you please tell me a lay man what is the crux of 77 pages?
    More ambiguity or candid decision?


  • ishrat salim
    May 10, 2012 - 2:11PM

    with 90 % of our people illiterate…what makes us think that this 77 page final / detailed verdict will be understood by them when most of us cannot interpret properly & has taken a negative approach to it already without understanding ….just to oppose it for the sake of opposition is not a civilised approach…

    Khalil Gibran was not a Pakistani & not involved with any political party, but the poem seem to hv been written by him just for us….why was this poem not quoted in the past ? bcz the present situation is horrendous…thanks to PPP & its coalition partners & others….none are bothered about the country but himself….Recommend

  • asim
    May 10, 2012 - 5:11PM

    @ishrat salim:
    What to talk of uneducated people; educated people are unable to intrepret SC decisions.


  • Amer
    May 13, 2012 - 5:31PM

    pity the nation where an elected PM is hanged and the rule of generals validated, pity the naion where a person is convicted for defying court orders but those putting justice(s) under house arrest go scot free, pity the nation which punishes with iron hand the one guilty of a mere slap and garlands self confessed killers, where the street criminals dont deserve any mercy but sectarian serial killers get released,
    will general musharaf stand trial for contempt ever?


  • Ahmed HM
    May 14, 2012 - 12:00PM

    Pity on people like you !


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