I never read what critics have to say about my articles. Everybody is entitled to an opinion. I respect that right and will always defend it. However, my last piece on Mr Justice Markandey Katju’s advice has ruffled quite a few feathers. I was disappointed. Not because the detractors had hauled me over the coals — that part I found quite enlivening — especially the criticism by somebody who writes under the pseudonym of ‘Mirza’, who, perhaps, like others, justifiably feels that the Supreme Court is unnecessarily interfering in the operation of a fledgling democracy and not letting it function. But because 44 out of the other 54 critics appeared to convey the impression that whether or not the president is guilty is irrelevant. The government should be left alone to govern and complete its term. Only one person pointed out that el supremo had already been convicted by a Swiss court. Nobody mentioned that he was known as Mr Ten Percent. And from the arguments it appeared that when the NRO was enacted, nobody had actually been pardoned because ‘everybody was innocent until proven guilty’.
Now, I never claimed to know even one per cent of the law that Justice Katju does, even though I used to spend endless hours in the law library at the London School of Economics, along with Ajmal Mian, who eventually became Chief Justice of Pakistan. I was brought up to respect the law and hold Justice Katju in the highest esteem and praised him in my article. It is just that I firmly believe that we should sort out our political and legal problems without being told what to do by outsiders. If we sink or swim, it should be our decision, not theirs.
A couple of commentators hinted that I belong to the ‘doctrine of necessity school’ and had been commissioned to write the article in question. Sorry to disappoint you chaps. Nobody had gotten in touch with me. Not even the ISI. I write according to my conscience and believe I do so on behalf of the citizens of my country. Politically, I am left-wing, and have always attacked the cant and hypocrisy of the people in power who live like Mughal Emperors when folks in parts of the country don’t have proper drinking water and large families have to survive in wretched conditions on a pittance.
However, I learned three things in my school in India and university in England: how to distinguish right from wrong, never to hit a man when he is down, and to fight for the underdog. So when I was accused of being anti-PPP, I had a good laugh. There was a time when the PPP was in the doghouse and Benazir Bhutto’s supporters would seek me out at receptions, dinners and weddings, give me that acknowledging nod and thank me for keeping the party flag flying in my weekly columns in Dawn (2001-2004). In fact, when Mr Zardari was finally released from jail, I wrote a 1,384-word piece entitled “Free from prison at last”, which was published in Dawn on November 29, 2004. But … people change when they taste power. It is the way of all flesh.
So when President Zardari, after warding off fresh attacks from the judiciary, said quite triumphantly in a fit of euphoria that parliament is supreme and can make any law, I was grateful that we still have a Supreme Court in the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2012.
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