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Rulers, criminals and the judiciary

The whole country is in the grip of lawlessness. The government’s writ is totally absent. Contrary to the tall claims of those in power, terrorists strike at will and have the upper hand. World media and various institutions have declared that Pakistan’s police and judiciary are corrupt and are responsible for the malaise we are in. I agree that not everyone is “rotten”, but as the saying goes: “A single rotten apple spoils the whole barrel”.

We could consider terrorist activities as being the work of a few misguided or brainwashed people who are probably unaware of the Divine Edict stating that a Muslim who kills an innocent Muslim is doomed to hell. Our ulema and religious scholars should be emphasising this again and again in their Friday sermons.

 As far as justice is concerned, this should merely be an unprejudiced decision to settle the dispute between two parties. However, in practice, if a decision does not fall in our favour, we tend to blame the judiciary for favouritism. Since time immemorial, rulers have tried to have a pliant, submissive judiciary who will work in their favour. We all still remember how a judge appointed by Bush saved him from defeat by not allowing the recount of a few hundred votes, which might have given victory to Al Gore.

It is no different here. Judges are often blackmailed by various means, including favouring or harassing their relatives. In the olden days there were many instances of Qazis being badly treated by the rulers. However, on the whole they were respected and even the rulers were afraid of them

 In Islam there is a lot of emphasis on good governance and the dispensing of justice. In a way, good governance ensures justice and alleviates the problems faced by the people. Some of the relevant Divine Edicts are: Surely Allah loves the just (5:42). Believers! Be upholders of justice and bearers of witness to truth for the sake of Allah, even though it may be against yourselves or against your parents and kinsmen, or the rich or the poor, for Allah is more concerned with their well-being than you are (4:135). Believers! Be upright bearers of witness for Allah and do not let the enmity of any people move you to deviate from justice. Act justly, that is nearer to God-fearing. And fear Allah. Surely Allah is well aware of what you do (5:8). And when you speak, be just, even though it concerns a near of kin (6:152). Surely Allah enjoins justice, kindness and the doing of good to kith and forbids all that is shameful, evil and oppressive (16:90). Say to them (O Mohammad) “I believe in the Book that Allah has sent down. I have been commanded to establish justice among you (42:15). If the two parties of the believers happen to fight, make peace between them. But if one of them transgresses against the other, fight against the transgressor until it reverts to Allah’s command. And if it does revert, make peace between them with justice and be equitable, for Allah loves the equitable (49:9). Indeed, We sent Our Messengers with clear signs and sent down with them the Book and the Balance that people may uphold justice (57:25).

 The problem in Pakistan is that, almost from its inception, administrators have been incompetent, usually corrupt and perpetrators of favouritism and nepotism. Bad administration leads to corrupt police and judiciary. Our judiciary system fails to deliver and most of the blame lies with the administration. Our police can play games with the law – send innocent people to jail, name absentees in murder cases, etc. to extort money, etc. The judiciary is often too “cautious” to meddle in their affairs. The law of evidence is a curse, which has made our judiciary toothless, tying down their hands even when they are capable of finding out the truth. Cases are decided on the basis of evidence provided by the police and this evidence is usually tailor-made.

 In the olden days, Qazis sat on mats in mosques, deciding even difficult and complicated cases in one sitting. They would listen to all parties and then pass judgement. I do not propose that our judges leave their air-conditioned offices and sit on mats in mosques. However, we do expect quick judgements and that simple cases do not drag on for months or even years.

Often the defending or prosecuting lawyers do not turn up and the judge, rather than deciding the case, postpones it for weeks, which is exactly what the lawyers wanted in the first place. The judge may show anger at this behaviour, but that has no effect and “crooks” laugh at being able to cheat in court. The judiciary in the West never falls for such ploys and judges decide their cases, irrespective of who is present or absent.

Irreparable damage was done to the reputation of the judiciary by the likes of judges Munir, Anwarul Haq and Irshad Hassan Khan. They not only validated the rule of a usurper, but also (illegally) allowed changes in the constitution. It was an unforgiveable crime for which they should have been punished. I sincerely believe that, if our judiciary plays its role honestly and efficiently, we can become a well-disciplined nation. In my particular case, totally ignoring court orders, the interior secretary, Kamal Shah, handed over my case judgement to US ambassador Patterson almost immediately. Punished? On the contrary, he is enjoying the patronage of Rehman Malik and Asif Zardari!

 The cases of Musharraf, Ayan Ali, Hussain Haqqani, etc. are black chapters in the history of our judiciary. Those with influence can get away with anything while the poor are often jailed and/or hanged. That is our system!

Email: dr.a.quadeer.khan@gmail.com

Dr A Q Khan, "Rulers, criminals and the judiciary," The News. 2016-08-29.
Keywords: Political science , Political issues , Religious Scholars , Politics-Pakistan , World media , Terrorists , Corruption , Judiciary , Governance , Irshad Hassan Khan , Rehman Malik , Asif Zardari , Pakistan