Judicial Jitters in Pakistan. A look back..

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From Dr Hamid Hussain

Controversy about judiciary is seen as a novel phenomenon in Pakistan.  Found this piece from the vault written in 2007.  It is long but provides context of current status.  There is a coming ‘food fight’ among senior judges.  A sitting senior judge has leveled the accusation that court benches are formed at the advice of intelligence agencies and that phones of judges are being taped.  This is the first salvo and more fireworks in store.   When politics is militarized and judiciary and army brass politicized, then system will always be wobbly.  Read it if you have some spare time but I’ll advise to take some aspirin before reading it.

“The keenest sorrow is to recognize ourselves as the sole cause of our adversities”.    Sophocles

Hamid

Defence Journal, June 2007

Judicial Jitters in Pakistan – A Historical Overview

Hamid Hussain

‘Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please’.   Mark Twain

Pakistan is in the throes of a judicial crisis since March 2007.  On March 09, 2007, general Pervez Mussharraf summoned chief justice Muhammad Iftikhar Chaudry to army house.  He was asked some tough questions and then asked to resign.  Chief justice held his ground and refused.  He was kept at army house for several hours so that an acting chief justice could be sworn in.  Justice Javed Iqbal was sworn in as the senior most judge justice Rana Baghwan Das was out of country.  Chaudry was given the title of ‘suspended’ chief justice and his case referred to Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) for action.  This started a crisis where majority of the people denounced the cavalier manner in which general Mussharraf dealt with the chief justice.  Legal community fully supported chief justice by boycotting courts and bringing out processions on the streets.  Now every one is waiting for the final scene of the drama which may take a while.  Current crisis has brought judiciary in the lime light.  This article will give a historical overview of the role of judiciary in Pakistan and its interaction with both civilian and military rulers.

In every country, there is a continuous struggle for accumulating more power between different state institutions.  Executive tries to get a free hand and does not like legal restraints.  Judiciary tries to put some breaks on unchecked powers of the executive.  This struggle keeps some semblance of balance of power.  However, a politicized judiciary is as dangerous as an uncontrolled power hungry executive.  Continue reading “Judicial Jitters in Pakistan. A look back..”

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