Thursday, March 15, 2007

How Gandhian!

In the US's most-valued non-NATO ally, the moderately enlightened Dictator has been trying to push out the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. It has provoked some public reaction.

(For those that don't follow the news from that part of the world, we have going on a wrestling match of General Musharraf versus Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.)

Whatever the Chief Justice's faults, by all accounts, he was at least activist regarding human rights. It is not clear however why the General is after him. Charges have been brought against him, to be heard by a Judicial Council. In the meantime the C.J. is subject to various harassment.

Dawn columnist Ayaz Amir :

"When the Chief Justice and his wife, Begum Iftikhar Chaudhry, walked out of their house on Tuesday morning, refusing to sit in any official car and insisting they would rather walk to the Supreme Court – where the Chief Justice had to appear before the Supreme Judicial Council to answer the reference filed by Gen Musharraf – the Chief Justice was roughed up by the Islamabad police and pushed into a waiting car."

"....when the car carrying him finally arrived before the gates of the Supreme Court, the people assembled there, unable to keep their emotions in check, lost all control and stormed the vehicle and pulled him out. Amidst deafening cheers and much jostling (but this was jostling of another kind) they swept him towards the doors of the Supreme Court.

They would have broken the doors and entered the building itself but it was the Chief Justice who bade them go back. And you know what? Even in that melee the crowd obeyed. This is what moral authority is all about. With it you don’t need bayonets to have your way. Without it, not all the bayonets in the world can come to your rescue."


Perhaps at this auspicious hour in their history, I should resist reminding them of the cunning Hindu that the Pakistanis detest.


B Raman at points out that Musharraf's campaign against al Qaeda is a charade, and that many Pakistanis have been "disappeared" on that pretext.

"7. Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury, who has been suspended by Musharraf as the Chief Justice of the Pakistan Supreme Court provoking an embarrassing controversy, suspected that there was a large element of charade in respect of the arrests of Al Qaeda suspects and tried to go into it while enquiring into a large number of petitions regarding missing persons. This is not the first time that Musharraf has tried to intimidate Judges. He has done it at least 20 times since he seized power in October,1999. Whereas in the past he let his subordinates do the intimidation and avoided his personal involvement, this time he personally got involved by calling the Chief Justice to his office and unsuccessfully trying to force him to resign on the ground that he was damaging the reputation of the army and the ISI. His personal involvement this time shows the state of his panic and his anxiety to prevent the truth from coming out. "


See, being a tinpot dictator is no good! If you want to disappear people without consequences, you have to be the POTUS. Anyway, count Justice Chaudhury among the collateral damage of the "Global War Against Terror".