Articles of the year 2007

Losing the Plot
Published on April 28th, 2007

The two main issues that have grabbed the attention of the media, and hence the public, are the Lal Masjid affair, and the Reference of the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. Both cases are being highlighted in the newspapers and on the streets.

The Lal Masjid affair, has created turmoil within Pakistan, and to judge by the mail being received from our Diaspora, outside as well. The flouting of the law by the Lal Masjid management within the perimeter of Islamabad, is sending signals of a weakening Government, throughout their ranks. Thus, hardliners are getting emboldened, and are upping the ante. The latest demand being the establishment of Sharia Law throughout Pakistan. This perception of weakness, is life threatening for the Government, for it could be contagious, and will engulf the whole country, destroying much of the good work that has been done by this regime. With over a hundred thousand Madrassas operating in Pakistan, the handling of the Lal Masjid affair takes on a much more serious tenor. The CJSC is yet another matter, and has ascended into a nightmare of epic proportions. Piecing together the puzzle, it would seem that some members of the intelligence convinced the President that the releasing of the Missing persons information would be damaging to the foundation of the State. Ergo the—dangerman the CJSC should go. Now we should ask, If the Government has these people, just tell the CJSC. If they are dead tell him. If they are not here but in Guantanamo tell him. The families of the 'Disappeared' must be told the truth. The People have the right to know where the disappeared are.

If they are in other (secret) areas the CJSC can be told, and he can then pass on the information to the family or not. There would have to be very compelling reasons to still hold back this information. ( I cannot imagine any circumstances forbidding this— not even National Security) If he is in an Indian jail, he is probably there for a good honourable reason, the family will understand, and given the fact that he is alive then the Family will have hope. At least there will be an end to the uncertainty.

Pakistan is now an open society, and if there are indeed cloak and dagger escapades going on, then, as we are all admirers of Bond types, we would be proud of the man, but the family should be taken into confidence. However in these cases the Strong Silence on behalf of the Government does not inspire confidence, on the contrary it shakes that very faith. The sight of the woman sprawling at the feet of the President at his public meeting is just a fraction of the torment being suffered by the poor woman, and of her family.

If this is the underlying reason for the strong statements emanating from the Cabinet, and the CJSC reference, then, the man is being pilloried for the wrong reasons, and the Government it seems has lost the plot, and the reference should be reexamined, for if indeed the CJ is guilty of such an action, then we need at least a hundred such judges. The people of Pakistan, are curious as to how both issues are going to be resolved. Will the Government capitulate in one (as already seems likely) and harden its position (untenable already) in the other, allowing both to destabilise the State. Upholding the Law in one, and while allowing the breach of Law in the other. Both are set pieces being enacted in Islamabad, in the glare of the World's Media.