The revenge of the black panther

Published: June 23, 2012

The opening paragraph of the June 14, 2012 judgment in Suo Motu Case No 5 of 2012 handed down by Justice Jawwad S Khawaja of the Supreme Court of Pakistan reads:

“The fateful events of March 9, 2007 are now a part of our collective consciousness. Five years later, this Court has found itself beleaguered by the relics of a past that everyone knows, or certainly should know, as the same are now indelibly etched in our history. But, perhaps, the ghosts of the past do not so easily depart. In this case, the Court has found it necessary for the protection of public interest to ascertain some facts and to seek the truth in a matter of the highest national importance, which has appeared recently in the public domain, through the auspices of the media viz the institutional credibility and authority of the highest Court of the land. The facts of this case are explained in detail below. But, before we venture into laying out the facts, let us say that some of our greatest national problems will be relieved if only we realise the momentousness of what has transpired in this country since 2007, through the blood, sweat, tears and toil of our people. Those of us who continue to ignore the turnaround, do so only through denial of history”.

Indeed, one ghost of the past has not so easily departed, most extraordinarily, as Pakistan’s malignant ghosts are usually firmly put behind sealed doors. But on that March day five years ago, General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, in the short time it took to produce his reference against the Chief Justice of Pakistan (largely involving his now-famous son) — and for Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to say ‘no’ to suggestions that he resign — enticed out of the national bottle a genie and let it lose upon the nation.

The genie of the judiciary continues to captivate us. It is not sacrosanct; it has many critics as has been recently witnessed by what was indeed a conspiracy to cut the genie’s feet from under him. It was unsuccessful but it has surely planted doubt in the minds of many as to the stability of the pedestal from which the judiciary has thundered since the revival of its reputation. The matter involving the billionaire and the chief justice’s son has also done us all a favour by exposing sections of the media for what they actually are.

But it was inevitable that another individual would supplant that rather dicey issue. The event on June 19 was foreseen and there were no ‘patakhas’ involved; the man from Multan, who stood up to and rather foolishly defied the national genie — but then again, he could do no other than his master’s bidding — was sent home. Let alone having to give up the cushy position and illusion of power, with his military staff lurking behind his shoulders, he does not even have a seat in the august National Assembly. And, the poor chap has even had to surrender his record-shattering claim of being the longest serving prime minister. However, he and his family have had a good time for long enough at the nation’s expense. He is no loss and the next PM will but, again, be his master’s voice.

Well, well, the genie has saved its skin through swift, judicious and so far successful action; the Court reigns supreme.

Published In The Express Tribune, June 24th, 2012.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (11)

  • Max
    Jun 23, 2012 - 10:21PM

    Madam! The developments in Pakistan are very depressing and I have given up my hopes on its survival as a viable entity. “Contempt of court” is not a criminal offense and the respected members of the judiciary have crossed the line.


  • AS
    Jun 23, 2012 - 10:48PM

    The court ‘reigns supreme’ for now as a consequence of operating outside the parameters of settled norms of constitutional jurisprudence. We didn’t need a former judge of Indian Supreme Court to instruct us on something that has been patently obvious for quite some time now.


  • Umer
    Jun 23, 2012 - 11:01PM


    Totally agree except for the “respected” part.


  • Falcon
    Jun 24, 2012 - 12:22AM

    First of all, most likely I will never match your stature in knowledge based on the comments I have seen from you. However, here I choose to disagree with you. Why is it that if an average Joe steals our money and acts defiant, he becomes a criminal. However, on the other hand, if it is politicians and govt functionaries of our liking who plunder the wealth of the nation, they are not held accountable but rather untouchable guardians of the ‘holy grail’ of democracy???


  • LionOfPunjab
    Jun 24, 2012 - 1:11AM

    It is easy for the court to punch the toothless and weak civilians/politicians. The court could not give judgement against qadri, the killer of former governer of punjab . Why? Because the presiding judges of the ‘powerful’ court knew the price (their lives) they will have to pay for upholding the ‘justice’ . Not a single general from the corrupt brigade is or will ever be convicted by the court. Recommend

  • Logic Europe
    Jun 24, 2012 - 12:08PM

    Swift decisions? Only against government


  • Rana Amjad
    Jun 24, 2012 - 2:15PM

    Swift decisions only for one party! Is this justice Mr. CJ?


  • Anonymous
    Jun 24, 2012 - 4:28PM

    Only decisions against the democratic government???? History of judicial coup repeated by supreme court.Recommend

  • x
    Jun 24, 2012 - 7:46PM

    Bottomline: gilani and his family had looted us long enough, they have succeeded in feathering their nests for their subsequent 10 generations at the expense of Pakistanis.
    However, the next PM. Raja Rental, will be not only highly corrupt and inefficient like Gilani, but also another puppet of our president. so nothing changes.
    we need elections, and we need to out this government!


  • Max
    Jun 24, 2012 - 8:30PM

    I understand your frustrations and can relate to these. It is just a norm to address the incumbents of the institution this way.

    @ Falcon: Thank you for remarks about me. I am humbled Madam/Sir. I am looking from the perspective of democratic consolidation and strengthening the institutions. The Honorable members of the SC are imposing their hegemony thus diluting the validity of state institutions and Montesquieu theory of “Separation of Powers.” We also need to keep in mind that the apex court has been a thorn all through the history of Pakistan from “doctrine of necessity” (TamizudDin v. State, 1954) to validation of bureaucratic-authoritarian structures (Munir Report 1954). Recommend

  • Anonymous
    Jun 24, 2012 - 9:16PM

    Sir you have to prove
    Similarly if son of judge blackmails some one that needs to be brought before for swift justice .
    When particular case is 14 years old, Az wa in jail for 9 Straight years, Then same case can wait one or 2 years due to constitutional immunity to president.
    But mind set is same that of shahbaz sharif that ” we do not recognize AZ as president of Pakistan”.Recommend

More in Opinion