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.