The Missing Judge

The Missing Judge By Fakir S. Ayazuddin
The Nation, June 27, 2008

While all Pakistan is trying to liberate the judiciary, with long marches and threats of dharnas, an old gentleman was seen on a private TV channel crying, for his bail had just been approved though he was not yet released.

He had served 22 years in various jails in Pakistan, with no charges framed nor any trial. He was moved around the country and there were no records on him. He was not a bearded fundo or Taliban. He was not a murderer, terrorist, nor a spy, nor a Baloch activist. He was Dr Ghulam Mustafa Ismail Qazi, a former ad-hoc judge of the Lahore High Court and also the husband of an army captain, Dr Mubarika, who was killed in Siachen 18 years ago (published in a local English daily, June 13, 2008), a serving judge of the Lahore High Court no less, when he was picked up, and put away for 22 years. The signature on his detention order shown on TV was authorised by Roedad Khan Federal Secretary of Interior, and had been missing for 22 years. (The same fellow who is a regular on TV talk shows and spouts holier than thou messages on TV conveniently forgetting his role in the Missing judge case).

This shows the "long arm of the bureaucracy" at its mightiest. And at its most evil. The sin committed by Judge Qazi, was to issue a notice to the wife of General Zia to appear before him in person. The judge was rendered missing for 22 years!

The ordeal suffered by Judge Qazi is inconceivable in any country let alone one with a history of a bureaucracy steeped in the British tradition of "justice" and fairplay. How then could this have happened involving players such as Mr Khan.

Now the question of Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry's missing persons takes on an urgency and his "suo moto" notices become a cause that should be followed by teams of lawyers. In fact Justice Iftikhar's action should be made "de rigeur" for all judges, as our present system leads to justice abuse, at all levels. The poor have absolutely no chance of any form of justice. They would be better off at the mercy of the panchayat, and even the US Army.

The judicial system has retrogressed in Pakistan, especially since March 3, 2007. We are progressing in many fields, but the judiciary is moving backwards at a furious pace. As the lawyers' movement has been saying repeatedly without justice their can be no progress. It is now important to realize that if a judge of the High Court of the Punjab can go missing for 22 years what chance do we normal citizens have.

The missing persons being chased by the CJ may be nothing compared to what else is hidden beneath the judicial blankets. The time has come to find out in the case of Justice Qazi, that this was not a murder, no robbery, yet 22 years of a man's life were taken away. The Lawyers must take it upon themselves to bring the culprits to book.

They cannot go unpunished, for, "justice" must be seen to have been done, and all those who were party to Judge Qazi's horrific ordeal must pay. This was an act of an evil person who chose to bend the law for his own vindictive pleasure. This must be punished to prove that we are not living in the medieval ages. Where a whim can destroy lives forever...for 22 years at least.

While the young lawyers with their new found zeal, honed to a fine edge by being on the march for 14 months and with their incurred financial losses during this period, would be doing Pakistan and their calling a huge service if they move the courts on behalf of Judge Qazi, to restore the dignity of Dr Qazi, within the power of the court - for this on merit alone is the cause celebre for the judiciary vs the executive. A truly fit example of miscarriage of justice. This would also do wonders for the restoration of the dignity of the courts, a dignity that is sadly lacking today.

While the tussle between the PPP, and the PML-N continues, this should be the first step, and would lay the groundwork for any such blunders in the future. Also if a punishment can be imposed then it would place in jeopardy any further attempts to twist the judiciary to one's selfish and illegal ends. It would seem that in the Judge's misfortune a lesson can be learned, so that the future citizens can be protected from such lapses in the legal system. It also gives a new importance to Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry's stand. These two are examples of the tussle between the executive and the judiciary, and why Musharraf's sacking of the CJ is that much more sinister.


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