Backdoor Channel to Pak Judicial Crisis

Back channel efforts are underway to "amicably" resolve the simmering judicial and constitutional crisis triggered by the removal of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudry.

Backdoor Channel to Pak Judicial Crisis

Back channel efforts are underway to"amicably" resolve the simmering judicial and constitutional crisistriggered by the removal of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudry.

"Former Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali andPresident's Principal Secretary Tariq Aziz head the cadre of these mutualfriends who are trying to resolve the crisis," a well-placed source in theMinistry of Law told, wishing not to be named.

Sources said that Jamali was the person whoconvinced the government to lift all kinds of bars on the movement and meetingsof the suspended chief justice.

Both Jamali and Chaudry belong to Pakistan's southeastern province of Balochistan.

"Not only Mr Jamali, but various others whobelong to Balochistan province are active in this connection," confirmedKhusnud Ali Khan, editor-in-chief of an Islamabad-based newspaper and a closefriend of Jamail.

A former chief of Pakistan Air Force, Air Marshall rtd Asgha Khan,is also active in the mediation process, according to sources.

Justice Chaudry was suspended by Musharraf on March9 on charges of misconduct and misuse of authority.

The suspension has plunged the south Asian countryinto a judicial and constitutional crisis.

Several judges have since resigned their posts toprotest Musharraf's decision while lawyers and opposition activists continue toorganize strikes in solidarity with the ousted chief justice.

Many believe Chaudry is being punished for refusingto toe the official line on several issues, including the controversial file ofmissing Pakistanis, as well as his opposition to the planned re-election ofMusharraf later this year.


According to sources, three options are beingconsidered including that Musharraf withdraws reference against the suspendedchief justice, who would then voluntarily step down in the country's"interest".

The second option is to leave the matter to theSupreme Judicial Council while the third is the imposition of emergency inthe country.

Analysts say Musharraf appears to be on back-foot ascompared to Chaudry, who contrary to past judicial and political traditionsrefuses to cow to the military establishment.

"Musharraf is in an awkward position,"Sohail Iqbal, an Islamabad-based senior journalist and political analyst, toldIOL.

"If he withdraws the reference that means theallegations leveled against the suspended chief justice are false," henoted.

In this case, he believes, Musharraf would need ascapegoat to save his own skin.

"As the reference was sent on the primeminister and his cabinet's advice, therefore he and his cabinet members can bethe possible scapegoats."

Sohail believes it would be difficult for Musharrafto sacrifice Premier Shaukat Aziz, a Washington'sfavorite, because this would further weaken the military ruler, already beingpressed by the USand the EU to restore democracy.

"If the reference is not withdrawn against thesuspended chief justice, and the supreme judicial council exonerates him, thenMusharraf will have no moral right to continue to head the country."

According to the article 209 of the constitution,even if the supreme judicial council gives its judgment in favor of thesuspended chief justice, the president is
not bound to comply with that.

"If he does not comply with the judicialcouncil's judgment in line with the constitution, the ongoing protest campaignwill be further fueled," Sohail anticipates.

"Even pro-government political parties andlawyers will join the protest campaign, and the government will totally go onback seat."

Ali Khanm the editor-in-chief, says Musharraf hadanother option to keep Justice Chaudry away from the Supreme Court even he isreinstated by the Supreme Judicial Council.

"The president has the constitutional right tosend the chief justice on forced leave for indefinite period. However, am notsure whether or not he will
exercise this prerogative."

Long Way   

Sources close to the presidential house argue thatthe suspended chief justice has shown "leniency" in his stance.

"His first ever public speech is an eloquenttestimony to the fact as he did not speak even a single word about politics,and presidential reference against him," they said referring to Chaudry'saddress to Rawalpindi Bar Association.

Yet, the two camps are not near an agreement.

"Let me make it clear that so far there is nobreakthrough in this connection as Justice Iftikhar Chaudry sticks to his gunsthat the presidential reference against him must be withdrawn unconditionallybefore any kind of negotiations," said the Ministry of Law's source.

Justice Chaudry finds himself on strong footing, headded.

Hamid Mir, a senior political analyst, believes thatany kind of back channel efforts will not succeed because Chaudry is not readyto step down in any case.

"I know that some people are trying in thisregard. A former official of the intelligence bureau too had tried to become abridge between the two sides, however, Justice Iftikhar outrightly refused tostep down," Mir told IOL.

"I met Justice Chaudry a few days ago. Heappeared to be fully confident and was not looking in a mood tocompromise," he added.

"If General Musharraf withdraws referenceagainst the suspended chief justice and reinstate him, then he has to sack theprime minister and his cabinet, which he cannot afford. Therefore, in my opinion,there is hardly any chance of the success of such efforts."

Munir Malik, a senior legal expert and one of thecounsels of the suspended chief justice, insists he will not cow down.

"He is sanguine, firm in his resolve and fullyconvinced about his innocence that is why he is pressing for his open trial.Why should he bargain?" he said.

"I have heard about such reports (regardingback channel efforts), but I won't comment on that. However, I fully believethat he doesn't need anything
like this. He has the confidence of thousands oflawyers and the masses," aid Malik.

He disagreed with the argument that if Musharrafwithdraws reference against the suspended chief justice and reinstates him,then he would be in trouble.

"I believe if General Musharraf admits hismistake and withdraws his reference, the nation will appreciate him," headded.

The expert also believes that the ouster of thegovernment would cause no problem.

"Even if prime minister has to step down due towithdrawal of reference, that will not create any kind of political unrest inthe country.

"If prime minister has to step down in thiscase, then he should because he had advised a wrong step."


Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16