Editorial : CJ’s advice - Tuesday 19th April 2011

BY an extraordinary coincidence, the chief justice’s advice to the armed forces on their constitutional obligation came the day Pervez Musharraf told DawnNews TV that the basic law was nothing but a piece of paper, and that it was the country — whose interests, judging by his remarks, were defined by the armed forces — that mattered. Reminding a delegation of officers from Command and Staff College that they should concentrate on their job, CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry said on Saturday he was shocked to learn during his interaction with army officers that they were not fully aware of the significance of their oath under the constitution. A week earlier, Mr Chaudhry had asked the bureaucracy’s civilian segment not to take illegal orders from their superiors. The CJ’s advice and the retired army chief’s articulation of his political philosophy represent two strains of thought whose collision and collusion have shaped Pakistan’s history. Since 1958 four army chiefs have usurped power, abrogated or mauled the constitution, ruled with the help of claque and by design or default pre-empted the growth of democratic institutions. Their civilian counterparts willingly collaborated with the dictators and helped in the persecution of dissenters, while regrettably many in the higher judiciary considered it prudent to legitimise the military takeover more than once under the law of necessity.
Have the armed forces learnt the lesson? Going by Mr Musharraf’s virtual repetition in the second decade of the 21st century of similar remarks by Ziaul Haq, it would not be irrational to assume that anti-democracy sentiments still lurk in certain immature minds in the grip of the saviour syndrome. While we would like to believe that Mr Musharraf’s was the last military intervention, it will entail considerable resolve and sacrifice on the part of civil society to remain vigilant and thwart extra-constitutional measures to control Pakistan’s destiny through direct intervention or behind-the-scenes manipulation. Mr Chaudhry’s mild rebuke should prompt civilian and military bureaucrats to re-read Pakistan’s history. It would not take too much intellectual effort to discover the incalculable harm which anti-democratic aberrations have done to this country and its people.

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/19/cjs-advice.html

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