Chickens are coming home to roost and some claim that it’s pure karma. They maintain that the Chief Justice of Pakistan was impaled upon his own sword of overdependence on the media. Such is the state of euphoria in some circles that people often forget that thus far, the so-called familygate is based on pure hearsay. And even if empirical evidence is presented before the Court, it will do nothing to harm the integrity of the Court as long as justice is upheld.
No, something else has gone awfully wrong. For some time, anger over the media’s indiscretions has been mounting in various circles. Not a day passes when we don’t come across people, both in uniform and in civvies, complaining about our collective inadequacies. And this time, the media or a highly pampered section of it, has bitten more than it can chew.
It all started with three anchors and one editor working for a single media group. They claim that they have seen evidence implicating Arsalan Iftikhar and that should be enough to implicate him, but the problem is that they are not forensic experts. Yet, that didn’t stop them from issuing edicts against the CJ’s son. This haste in upholding their own version of the law has seriously jeopardised the credibility of television talk shows. Imagine their cheek that when appearing before the Court, they claimed that they had no doubt about the veracity of the said evidence. Regardless of his alleged crimes, a man has once again been declared guilty and is being asked to prove his innocence. Err, was it not supposed to be the other way around?
There is no dearth of aggrieved parties who have issues with the way the Supreme Court is being run. However, this problem is bigger than having petty differences with the Court. If you allow someone to wield this kind of unfettered power that he can be the judge, jury and the executioner, and that, too, without producing even a shred of evidence, there is no guarantee that such a person will one day not turn against you. Such people can singlehandedly rock the moorings of our state and further decimate what remains of our social fabric.
It is now incumbent upon bodies like the Pakistan Broadcasters Association to take decisions to ensure that some semblance of editorial oversight and accountability remains in place. There is also a need to institute an inquiry within media groups to study the reasons behind the dramatic shift in the stated positions of some of our leading anchors, who until fairly recently used to go all dewy-eyed while talking about the greatness of our judiciary. This is very important when the indirect accuser in the case is already the richest and perhaps, the most powerful man in the country.
Finally, you must have come across some interesting demands. For instance, the president should resign so that a letter can be sent to Switzerland. The prime minister should step aside because he has already been convicted. And finally, the Chief Justice should at least go on vacation until the inquiry is over. All this to save us from the monster called conflict of interest. Isn’t it imperative then that the anchors who have framed the charges against the CJ’s son be asked to relieve themselves from their duties until the matter is settled? Charity, my dear sirs, has to begin at home.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 9th, 2012.