A great deal of hue and cry has been made about the perceived judicial persecution of Shoaib Shaikh, the courtroom catwalk of Ayyan Ali and the lack of action against others who have committed similar, or even worse, crimes. Yes, I am pointing the finger squarely at the illustrious politicians that grace the corridors of power in our country.
But why are we surprised?
We’ve seen these showcase arrests in the past. Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari were arrested during Nawaz’s government in 1997, locked in a comfortable jail cell at Karachi Central Jail, much like the comforts that Ayyan is enjoying at Adiyala Jail in Rawalpindi. We have seen the media storms before when politicians have been arrested. It all ends with a quiet handshake and the case disappears into the file room of the accountability court, never to be seen again. Meanwhile, the accused boards a flight out of the country with all their assets in hand to enjoy their lives and our money somewhere else.
The judicial system of Pakistan is a mockery of the word justice. It is the best example of a banana republic that we have as a population. In what country of the world does an elected parliament pass an amendment to the Constitution refusing to accept any judge that has taken an oath under a Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO), while all its judges are PCO judges? Did we see a single judge offer to step down of their own accord when the amendment was passed? Did a single politician or elected official demand their resignation? Was the amendment only for future judiciaries?
In what world does a Parliament strike down the amendments to the Constitution by one dictator, while allowing other amendments from previous dictators to stand untouched? Or for that matter, initiates a foolhardy exercise of a treason case against a single person for an act that took multitudes of people to accomplish? Yes, I am referring to the amendments and imposition of the emergency by former President Pervez Musharraf.
Have we forgotten that Article 6 of the Constitution says all collaborators and facilitators are guilty of treason? Better question, have you ever read the Constitution of Pakistan and understood your rights under that “sacred document”?
We all remember Khurshid Shah beating the table in the joint session of the National Assembly when the wolves were at the gates – “They can burn down the buildings. They can tear down the National Assembly, but we will not allow them to touch one word in our constitution.”
An impassioned speech from someone who sits among those who regularly violate the document they claim to hold so dear, sacred and precious.
And therein lies the problem.
We have long heard the phrase – “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely” – but I would dare to say that not one of you reading this have ever understood the implications to the fiefdom that is Pakistan.
We are the peasants that serve the various Lords of the manor. Our hard work to earn a salary is taken in direct and indirect taxes to feed, clothe and protect the Lords. Elite police units, trained through the acquisition of foreign loans which our great grandchildren will be repaying, are used to protect the manors and palaces of the Lords. The state bows to the Lords and the only resistance for decades has been the armed forces, who refuse to take a knee to the pretenders to the throne. The media dances before us telling us tales of the great and wonderful things that are being done in our names, for our benefit, and with our blood, but at the end of the day, there is still nothing new, nothing improved and nothing delivered. But the Lords have their new vehicles to take them to their private jets to be flown out of the fiefdom until it is time to return in glory and splendor.
You doubt me.
Let’s break it down.
During the musical chairs of democracy in the 1990s, we saw one government dismissed on corruption charges, only to have another come to power to face the same refrain two years later. From 1988 to 1999, Pakistan saw how the halls of power were used against the political parties to lock them in jail cells, force them to appear in courtrooms, and waste taxpayer monies on show trials and security with no result in the end.
How many politicians were convicted of corruption in Pakistan’s courts during that time?
We learned phrases like “political victimization” and “vendetta politics” during this time. Those phrases have been fed to us everyday since by political workers, the media, bureaucrats, judges and military officials standing in the dock, as a steady diet of manure to cover up the crimes they committed. If they can confuse us enough, we’ll forget for the time being what they did, until the media decides to remind us so we can get angry and protest on the streets.
We all screamed bloody murder when the dictator Musharraf offered all the political criminals the National Reconciliation Order (NRO) to set aside the cases and allow them to return to Pakistan, without fear of arrest for any of the crimes they knowingly committed. The deposed Chief Justice and the Supreme Court moved quickly to announce the law as a black law and struck it down, promising once they were restored, they would bring them all to book.
They were restored to their respective benches, yet the cases still gather dust, undecided to this day. It leaves you to wonder if part of the restoration deal that was reached between the PPP government and the Lawyers Movement included a stipulation that the NRO cases would not be touched, or would be decided in favor of the politicians, not the state.
They were given another chance to take all the politicians from a few Conservative parties down with the Asghar Khan case decision, where the Supreme Court found the former Chief of Army Staff, Aslam Beg, and Director General – ISI, Asad Durrani, along with a number of politicians were guilty of manipulating the elections during the 1990s to defeat Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party. That decision was quickly swept under the rug with a media storm of interviews decrying the facts that money had been paid, and all the guilty continue to walk free.
Wait, manipulating an election… isn’t that what the judicial commission is looking into now?
Just like the JIT, the Judicial Commission will find that the anointed political party is not guilty of any wrongdoing. It was all the returning officers fault. There will be nationwide protests, fake resignations from the government and in the end, elections will be held on schedule, because they must protect their own interests. If a government were to be elected that actually upheld the Constitution of Pakistan, everyone would be running for the hills to get out before they were locked in dark holes for the rest of their lives.
Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
For the last 7 years, we have watched Pakistan struggle to pull its head above water, drowning in international debt with nothing to show for the dollars, pounds, riyals and euros that have flowed into the country since 2008. We still suffer with electricity load shedding, and have added natural gas shortages for good measure. Corruption is still rampant and terrorists have become emboldened against the state. All while the honorable court watches, unwilling to bring anyone to justice. As a matter of fact, they have rubber stamped the current government with the Joint Investigation Tribunal’s report holding Shahbaz Sharif, Rana Sanaullah and senior police officers blameless for the Model Town murders, only to have glimpses of it repeated in Daska with 3 lawyers being shot by the police. I won’t even talk about the police highhandedness that plagues the entire Punjab province. Let’s not open that Pandora’s box today.
But let’s ask… did you expect any different? Did you honestly think that the JIT was going to return a different decision against the party that stormed the Supreme Court during their last term in power to avoid appearing before the bench on a contempt case?
You would have to be living in a cave to believe that the narrative isn’t already being crafted in the highest levels of the government and media to make sure that Shoaib Shaikh and Ayyan Ali walk away scot free for their crimes. We are already hearing the chorus and orchestra warming up. It’s a conspiracy by other channel owners to stop a new channel from being launched. She didn’t know that she was committing a crime. Sure, they were caught red-handed, the evidence is stacking up against them, but we all know how Pakistan’s judicial process works.
The only people that ever go to jail in this country are those without power or influence. And if we are to believe the rumors, Axact is backed by strong players in the establishment and underworld and Ayyan is a prized companion of former President Asif Ali Zardari. Why else do you think there is such a media offensive going on repeatedly mentioning names of other channels, telephone records being released associating the location of the calls with a prestigious location in Clifton, Karachi. Forget what the evidence proves. We don’t care about proof in Pakistan. Everyone in power is innocent because they are the target of a conspiracy from someone.
I’ll even go one step further with an incident from 27 May, 2015. Ikram ul Haq, a judge on the Bannu bench of the Peshawar High Court, after having his vehicle stopped at an Army security checkpost and asked to prove his identity, a process that took all of 45 seconds to a minute. However, his Lordship (not my word, it’s in the court order) got out of his car and told the soldier – “you go and fight on the border… if a blast had occurred, we’ll be the sufferer… I don’t want to talk to you, I’ll talk to your commander.” He then left his car and escort at the entry gate, blocking Cantt Road, and walked to his courtroom. He issued the summons to the Commander to appear and clarify the situation.
The latest on this case is that only the District Commissioner appeared in his Lordship’s courtroom, drawing more anger and the following orders:
- Contempt of court
- All of the named individuals, including the Commander, must appear in court, otherwise they should be arrested
- Army operations are illegal in settled areas
- Portion of Bannu Cantt security to be handed over to the police
Now, let’s be clear.
- Pakistan is in a state of war currently and Bannu is very close to the Taliban held areas.
- There are security protocols that must be followed by everyone, no matter who you think you are.
- If army operations are illegal in settled areas, does that mean that the terrorists can find safe haven in urban cities and strike at will?
- Cantt areas are army controlled areas and fall under the jurisdiction of the armed forces. Security cannot be handed over to the police. It doesn’t matter which city you are in, if you are entering a Cantt area, you will be stopped and checked.
I can’t get over the fact that he was so offended at being treated like a common citizen.
Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
And we are absolutely corrupted into believing that these people are the saviors of Pakistan, over and over again.