Pakistan: The Way Ahead

The whole Pakistan is overjoyed with the reinstatement of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and a happy end to the Lawyers’ Long March movement. Although apparently president Zardari is in back foot by giving the nod to to reinstate Chaudhry, it had prevented the possible chaos and anarchy if the protesters’ demands were not met.

But is it over? Adil Nazam at All Things Pakistan notes:

For some reason one has a sense that this story is not over yet. We have celebrated a reinstatement once before too. And from the PM’s speech it is not clear at all what the terms of the decision really are.

The blogger adds in a followup post:

The story is far from over. It has just taken the newest twist. It is a good twist. But we know much more is to follow. But what?

We do remember, of course, that he had been reinstated earlier too – by his peers in the Supreme Court. We also remember that promises and announcements are made by our political leaders to be broken. [..]

Tomorrow, we all have to start asking ourselves the question: What next?

The blogger goes on to make some predictions – what will happen next.

Shakir Lakhani at Chowrangi requests not to expect too much from the judges:

The Pakistani people, most of whom are highly illiterate, will be tempted to believe that the situation in the country will change overnight. They expect immediate justice from the restored Chief Justice, forgetting that immediate justice is not possible. [..]

Unfortunately, the situation will remain the same for a long time. Our justice system gives every right to the defendant and it is up to the prosecution to prove guilt. And since the looters and bribe-takers (as well as smugglers and drug barons) have plenty of money to hire the best lawyers, it will take very long to convict them (if ever).

So for now it would be wise not to expect too much from the restored judges. They can’t change the system in a few days or even months.

Kamil Hamid writes at Teeth Maestro:

While celebration is in order, the civil society movement and Pakistanis in general must understand that it is crucial this be used as a beginning for a new era of activism and the drive for justice. Sitting back at this point, and allowing “appropriate parties” to handle matters would be nothing short of disastrous.

The blogger suggests what to do next:

We fight on. We watch the judiciary with a hawk-eye fastidiousness that we have failed to apply to our institutions and politicians in the past. We ensure that our heroes REMAIN heroes and do NOT use their popularity or power for personal gain.

We put our demands forward, using the restored judiciary and maintain that, short of valid, democratic reform, nothing can interfere with the constitution.

We must continue to take to the streets and protest, but this time about issues such as our identity being hijacked by people who claim that they act in our name by strapping bombs to themselves and blowing themselves up in areas where the most people can die. We need to demand that proper action be taken against the Swat insurgency, not in the form of peace deals or military action. [..]

The list could continue for all of us, but I feel that I have made my point clear: that this can, must and will not be the end of the extraordinary movement we have built up.

1 comment

  • I would like to add that this is just the beginning of process for Pakistan’s judiciary to rid itself of the bad blood and assert its independence. Given Pakistan’s history, we have had a number of false dawns before so there is a need for the media and the public to remain extra vigilant.
    We saw during this Long March that very nearly people like Fazal-Ur-Rehman and Mazhar-Ul-Haq tried to give it an ethnic dimension by trying to pit Punjab against the smaller provinces.
    We need to keep a watchful eye on these black sheep and you as a respected journalist and academic will surely write about this issue sometime in future.

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