It’s good to learn - Kamran Shafi - November 9, 2010

Source :

I WAS fortunate enough, during a recent visit to London to attend a dear friend`s wedding, to see on BBC Parliament a telecast of a meeting of the Justice Select Committee of the House of Commons.

Appearing before the committee was the lord chief justice and president of the courts of England and Wales, the Rt Hon Baron Judge PC, QC. Judge is the lord chief justice`s family name, incidentally, his full name before ennoblement being Sir Igor Judge.

Wikipedia tells us that the Justice Select Committee scrutinises the policy, administration, and spending of the Ministry of Justice. In addition, the committee examines the work of the law officers of the Crown, the Serious Fraud Office and the Crown Prosecution Service. The committee also reviews draft sentencing guidelines issued by the Sentencing Guidelines Council.

The committee is made up of 11 members of parliament and their names according to alphabetical order are: Rt Hon Sir Alan Beith, (chair), Liberal Democrat; Chris Evans, Labour; Helen Grant, Conservative; Sian James, Labour; Jessica Lee, Conservative; Elfyn Llwyd, Plaid Cymru; Claire Perry, Conservative; Yasmin Qureshi, Labour; Linda Riordan, Labour Co-op; Anna Soubry, Conservative; and Karl Turner, Labour.

It was instructive for one such as I, a citizen of Pakistan who saw and experienced firsthand the dismissal of over 60 senior-most judges of the superior judiciary by an army dictator helped by his civilian hand-maidens (stand up the Chaudhries of Gujrat, Mushahid `Mandela` Hussain, Humayun Akhtar, Tariq Azeem, et al); then the cruel and uncivilised ways in which the dictatorship tried to quell the pro-judiciary protests; and finally the restoration of the judiciary.

It was enlightening for someone who daily reads and sees hysterical reports about a so-called stand-off between the judiciary and the government by a section of our media, case in point the recent, and so far unfounded and unproven, charge that the government was about to de-notify the judges` restoration, to see the total civility with which the lord chief justice and members of parliament interacted with one another.

The MPs questioned Baron Judge on matters ranging from certain courts being a burden on the exchequer in that they were not providing enough work hours to justify the expenditure on them, to asking him why the courts were not quickly adopting information technology which would help in reducing costs.

Elfyn Llwyd, the MP from Wales, complained that there was a seven-month backlog in cases in Wales. And so on.

The lord chief justice replied with equanimity and reasoning, agreeing that certain courts would have to be closed down and that he had himself thought the matter over.

On the courts not adopting new technology, he started to say something about funding and then stopped, smiled and said, “Let me rephrase that. Let me just say that it`s not all a triumph,” delicately putting it out that enough funding was not being provided for upgrading the technology being used in the courts. As to Llwyd`s complaint he said he was surprised that there was such a backlog and that he would look into the matter.

Not once did a frown crease his brow; not once did the MPs refer to him as Your Lordship; not once did any of the participants show annoyance. They bantered back and forth, even laughed at little anecdotes that were told to illustrate a point. It was a humbling experience to see how very civilised the relations are between the various pillars of the state in a democracy, everyone giving respect to the other and allowing it the space necessary for it to carry out its duties. tamasha

I have said before that in the (very) early late-morning (!) of my life, I have become very fragile. Little things start me off crying my heart out for our country. The tears came then, and I sat there weeping at the dire, almost unbearable state of affairs that we live through and have to endure every waking moment of our lives. If it is not one it is another. Hypocrisy seems to have become second nature to us, telling plain untruths about someone we oppose the easiest thing to do.

I have to go back to the de-notification issue, and to say that certain media houses are still pushing the story line that the government was indeed about to do the deed. This is adding fuel to the fires already burning in Pakistan with wild rumours flying about regarding a change in government.

May I once more request My Lord Iftikhar Chaudhry to order a judicial inquiry by three judges of the Supreme Court? Let the faces behind this conspiracy be exposed, whether those are faces of people in government, in our faceless and venal `agencies`, or and indeed, in the media. This is imperative.

I might add once more that Ahmad Owais, the losing candidate in the SC Bar Association elections, is on record as saying that the de-notification conspiracy was real. The SC inquiry committee should immediately ask him to provide details of the conspirators and proceed against them to the full extent of the law.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, a spokesman of the incoming Republican majority in the US House of Representatives has already announced that they will strongly oppose a withdrawal of US and Nato forces from Afghanistan according to President Obama`s plan. Now if that doesn`t put a spanner in the works for our great military thinkers and strategists I don`t know what will.

To base one`s own plans for the future of the volatile region we live in on someone else`s withdrawing (or not) their forces within a certain time-frame is mindless to say the least. But who in the world can talk sense to our Napoleons?

One is gratified to learn that the PML-N will not be part of the political conglomerate being put into place by you-know-who. It will lose its individuality if it does and joins the likes of Pir Pagara and Sheikh Rasheed `Tulli`.

No comments:

Post a Comment