Another Notch on the Democracy Belt

By Mahvish Akhtar, MMNS Pakistan Correspondent

The re-appointed Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice (Retd) Hamid Ali Mirza administered the oath to Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhary at a ceremony held in the Supreme Court Building in Islamabad. This ceremony took place on 24th of March 24, 2009, just one day after Pakistan Day which is on March 23rd of every year.  The ceremony was attended by many important and hopeful people which included, Judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Attorney General for Pakistan, Federal Law Secretary, Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan and other prominent lawyers and law office.

Dr Faqir Hussain Registrar, Supreme Court of Pakistan conducted the proceedings of oath taking ceremony.

The newly re-appointed and proud Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said on the day of his oath that the dignity of the Supreme Court will be restored as well regardless of the stories we have been hearing of corruption and ill practices. “The judiciary would have to be cleaned of corruption and no irregularities in dispensation of justice would be tolerated”, Mr. Chaudhry further explained at the beginning of proceedings in courtroom No.1.  It was a surreal experience for many, as it would surely be for the Chief Justice, as his first day in this courtroom after 16 months.

The courtroom, even though spacious, was filled beyond capacity on the day of the ceremony and there was not even any place left to stand for those people who showed up just a couple of minutes late because the seats were filled within seconds.

Justice Nasir ul Mulk and Justice Mian Shakir Ullah Jan were the two other judges at the Bench which was chaired by Chief Justice of Pakistan.

Hundreds of happy men and women including lawyers, members of civil society, family members of missing persons and media persons were among the audience. Both sons of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, Arslan Iftikhar and Balaj Iftikhar, were present at the ceremony as well. They were accompanied by senior lawyer and leader of lawyers’ movement Justice (Retired) Tariq Mehmood. Former Justice Nasira Javed Iqbal and the Chairperson of Defence of Human Rights Mrs Amina Masood Janjua were also present in the audience.

The proceedings started with the recitation from the Holy Quran and in his short address on the occasion, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry thanked lawyers for their glorious role in the movement for independence of judiciary and restoration of judges.

Of course this was a happy and joyous occasion for the people who were present there and they were very proud and excited to be here to be able witness this historical event. However, the Pakistani public is not known for its patience and its calm. We all know what happens when Pakistanis get excited whether its positive excitement or negative. This was a unique day. Even though courtroom was jam packed and tons of people were there who were very jubilant there was pin drop silence. People were their not for the purpose of entertaining themselves they were there to watch an historic event take place and that’s what they were doing. All concentration was on The Chief Justice to be and the public wanted to be a true witness to this procedure which could change so much in our country.

They understood that they had done their part. Now it was time for others to do their part and for them to show support in a different way. This is probably the first time I believe our country men and women have realized that noise is good but sometimes silence is needed for things to move forward.

All eyes were on Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and everyone was waiting for him to proceed with work and give orders as he used do before the events of November 3, 2007.

This is what it all comes down to, knowing when to speak up and knowing when to stay silent and let things and situations take their course. This is the problem we have had in the past, we have had good intentions always but we did not know what battles are worth fighting and which battles are not even battles. We used to like to just make noise. But we have learned the hard way that noise is not always the solution to everything. We have learned that we need to find what is really at the core of an issue solve that and then let things be. This lesson has been worth while so far.

So, what does this mean? Does this mean everything has gone back to normal and we will be a happy and completely democratic country again? No, of course not. If anyone things that they are deeply mistaken. Not everyone who fought for the restoration of the judges thought that these judges are innocent and have nothing up their sleeves. Nevertheless that was never the point. The point was to realize our right to having judges and to deciding our own fate as a nation.

The point was to achieve what was presented on 23rd March 1940. We were shown a dream in which Pakistanis would live with freedom and would be able to practice democracy as it should be practiced. March 24th 2009 was a realistic realization of it which in no way means we have won the war that started on March 23rd 1940 to gain freedom and democracy, however it does mean we have won yet another battle and we are ready to win some more.


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