Sobriety should prevail over prejudice
Mohammad Jamil


It is unfortunate that some politicians, intellectual elite, commentariat and civil society through their statements and comments denigrate the state institutions and also stoke a clash between them. They should realize that clash between the institutions could shake up very foundations of the state, and the consequences could be dreadfully disastrous. Leaders from both sides of the political divide including Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, and leader of the opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, blow hot and cold. To prove that elected leadership is all powerful and dominating, they pass derogatory remarks about the armed forces. However, the edifice of armed forces is so structured that respect and honor comes first while professional competence is inbuilt which helps them to protect the national honor and pride. The problem is that Pakistan Army and ISI are being dragged into courts regarding cases such as the Mehran Bank scandal, issue of missing persons leading to discovery of dead bodies of those claimed to be in official custody and memo-gate case seeking court decision.

It has been acknowledged by the ‘actors’ involved in Mehran Bank scandal that the orders for distribution of money to political leaders and party heads came from a civilian head of state through his Election Cell headed by a senior bureaucrat Mr. Roedad Khan, and Pak Army had to obey the orders of civilian authority. As regards missing persons’ case, it is a complicated issue. Of course, missing persons and dead bodies of those claimed to have been in official custody must be traced. But part of domestic media’s reporting is not objective and they resort to conjectures leading to serious allegations against Pak Army/ISI, especially in the absence of information. They should make efforts to provide evidence beyond reasonable doubt to prove their insinuations against national institutions. The impact of injured image and bruised prestige of Army/ISI could be harmful for the entire nation. Court trial will bring much mud slinging on the Army/ISI which may result into deepening jealousies and contemptuous environment. Such internal smoldering has the potential to become volcanic surge.

Yes, another difficult situation has come about with the prime minister’s indictment with contempt by the honorable apex court. But the venerable judges have ruled that a prima facie case does exist to proceed further in the case. And the prime minister has stated he would obey the apex court’s summons and present himself before it on 13th February to face the charge. In fact, the process will then start, and will be completed in due course. So when the court’s final verdict is yet to come, where is no justification or ground for jumping to conclusions, as have started some grandees of the political class, commentariat and civil society. The Supreme Court should take notice of the anchorpersons and panelists including renowned retired judges and lawyers, who are weaving up scenarios prematurely as if the respectable apex court has already delivered its final verdict. This could only be the most abominable thing to do, as it shows not only disrespect to the apex court’s sanctity but also some sort of an ulterior interest to see the state’s judicial and executive branches at loggerheads.

The world over, a sub judice case is not discussed or commented upon in public forums and media so as to ensure that the judges arrive at their judgment in complete calm and tranquility without being influenced. In democratic orders, their judgments are neither debated nor dissected on public forums as an expression of full respect to and confidence in what the judges had ruled. But in Pakistan a sub judice case is like an open house, a free-for-all where so-called experts impulsively comment without any inhibitions. The worst part is that those who must be very careful about this basic rule concerning a sub judice case are found cavalierly unmindful, rather disrespectful, of it. In Pakistan, the senior lawyers and retired judges of superior courts join in media discussions and public debates on sub judice cases, and do not feel qualms in participating in such discussions. The grandees of the political class, commentariat, civil society and chattering classes better take some rest and not to add to the nation’s anguish and agony with their shenanigans in regard to this sub judice contempt case against the prime minister.

There were uncalled for remarks by Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan counsel of the Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in contempt of court case, when he said in the apex court that if it could send notices to Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif and Gilani why then couldn’t it initiate action against generals who were involved in arresting judges. Instead of defending his client, he implied as if the apex court was biased. His remarks about ‘a third party could exploit the situation arising out of tussle between the government and the judiciary’ were not in good taste. Apart from Aitzaz Ahsan, leader of the opposition Ch Nisar Ali Khan has the penchant for shooting from the hip who resorted to army-bashing during his speech in the National Assembly. Perhaps the PML-N has a strategy that one leader uses derogatory remarks against military and the other one give soothing remarks to keep the balance. On December 15, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan demanded resignation of the ISI director general over his alleged plot to oust the PPP government, as alleged by Mansoor Ijaz. On December 19, Chaudhry Nisar stated neither any undemocratic setup nor martial law would be accepted.

But on 25th December Pakistan Muslim League (N) threatened agitation if the government took any steps against the chief of army staff and director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence prior to the Supreme Court’s decision on Memogate. Chaudhry Nisar expressed apprehension that the government might try to remove COAS General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and DG ISI Lt. Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha. But in his latest comment, Chaudhry Nisar once again urged Supreme Court to investigate the Inter Service Intelligence’s (ISI) present role and the role played by it during Musharraf’s era. Which part of his blurts one should believe? It appears that on one hand the PML-N would like all NRO cases be opened, and those disobeying the Supreme Court should face the music, but on the other would not be happy if cases against him are reopened. The problem is that the PML-N leaders utter nice words for military and judiciary so long as these institutions are on the ‘right’ side. PML-N’s record with regard to the respect of institutions is dismal.