Understanding Pakistan Project Team August 3rd, 2007
By: Athar Osama
In early June of 2007, with the Presidential Reference against the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhary, before the full-bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP), we asked our visitors the following question:
How should the current constitutional crisis be resolved?
The visitors had five choices to pick from. These were:
- CJP reinstated by the Court
- Gen. Musharraf admits his mistake (and withdraws the reference)
- CJP resigns from office and enters politics
- Gen. Musharraf resigns as Chief of Army Staff
- Caretaker government is installed
Clearly, the choices provided for the survey went far beyond the the legal domain of the current case in the Court and encompassed the potential far reaching implications of the decision itself. In doing so, they attempted to incorporate the considerable damage that the reference had already done to General Musharraf’s credibility among Pakistani and international audiences as well as his the hold onto power. Many of us also noticed, and felt quite dismayed, by the use of public office in open political activities that were below the dignity of these offices. These excesses were committed by both sides.
General Musharraf and his advisors wore military uniforms and used the perks and privileges of their offices to openly engage in political lobbying for the rigtheousness of the Presidential reference as did Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary, who used all the perks, privileges, and protocols–atleast the ones that he could still afford to use–as he openly lobbied the nation for his innocence and against the sitting government. It was high political drama of the highest calibre never before witnessed in the state of Pakistan. Partly to incorporate this element into the equation, but also somewhat selfishly too, a demand was made by Mr. Altaf Hussain of the Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM) that should the CJP resign and enter politics, his party would support his case against the presidential reference. Of course, a similar offer should have also been made to the sitting General as well for he too, in the past, has been guilty of holding onto one office while lobbying for another. Understanding Pakistan readers saw it all coming…