Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Rule of Law Versus Military Rule in Pakistan: The CJ - Kayani Debate

CJ renews stance — SC is ultimate protector of Constitution
Nasir Iqbal, Dawn, November 6, 2012

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry emphasised on Monday that missiles and tanks never guaranteed stability and security of a country nor were considered manifestation of a ‘hard power’.

“Gone are the days when stability and security of the country was defined in terms of number of missiles and tanks as a manifestation of hard power available at the disposal of the state,” the chief justice said while speaking to a delegation of the 97th National Management Course, National School of Public Policy and National Management College Lahore at the Supreme Court building.

It was more of a coincidence that the statement of the chief justice came soon after the speech of the Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Sunday’s statement by President Asif Zardari.

Speaking to a group of officers at the GHQ, Gen Kayani said no individual or institution had the monopoly to decide what was right or wrong in defining the ultimate national interest.

And President Zardari said parliament might still be under attack from certain quarters, but these were teething troubles of a genuine democratic transition and dying kicks of the old order.

But the speech of the chief justice was focused more on the importance of constitutionalism and its role in evolving economic and social development to achieve the cherished goal of a welfare state.

The CJ’s speech was prepared much earlier and the meeting with the young officers was pre-arranged since a request to this effect had been received by the court office on Oct 11, a senior court official told Dawn.

The chief justice regretted that weak administration and failure of implementation framework was writ large everywhere. “There seems to be no cohesive efforts in terms of a national framework wherein the mega issues have been tackled in an appropriate manner.”

Therefore, he said, heavy responsibility lay upon the Supreme Court judges for being the guardian and protector of the Constitution to uphold the canons of constitution’s predominance and its supremacy over all other institutions and authorities.

“The composition, powers and jurisdiction of the Supreme Court are set out by the Constitution itself and the court exercises original, appellate, review and advisory jurisdictions and its decisions are binding on all other courts of Pakistan,” he said.

The chief justice emphasised that the implementation of fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution was sine qua non of a truly independent and welfare state.

“Today, the concept of national security has been redefined as a polity wherein a state is bound to provide its citizens with overwhelming, social security and welfare nets and to protect their natural and civil rights at all costs. Thus, the executive branch of the country ably assisted by professionally trained civil service is bound to provide a conducive environment where the vast majority of people are able to make progress in various disciplines of their choices,” he said.

Strong institutions, the chief justice said, formed the bedrock for building everlasting mechanisms and sustaining socio-economic, political and cultural growth and development. For a developing country like Pakistan, the basic requirement for enhancing national growth through competitiveness was pegged on four pillars — strengthening of institutions, infrastructure, economic stability and health and education, he said.

The chief justice said: “If rules and regulations always create a level-playing field and provide equal opportunity to all under the Constitution and law, then a society is bound to grow. On the other hand, if the dice is loaded against the majority, the environment will generate frustration and distortions leading to chaos and restlessness in the society.

“If we reward merit and hard work, strictly enforce rule of law and supremacy of the Constitution and if the citizens trust the system and think it provides them fair opportunity to realise their dreams in a transparent manner and the present system has the capacity to discourage the corrupt and rent seekers and we have a system where civil and property rights are protected and contracts are fully enforced, then we can claim that the rules and regulations in practice here are transparent and fair. “But if, unfortunately, the answer is no, then the system is distorted and does not provide a level-playing field for people to achieve in life whatever they are capable of.

“The present day Supreme Court is alive to the fact that it has been restored to its original position by unprecedented struggle carried out by a consort of such professional classes as lawyers, students, media persons and civil society at large.”

For complete text of the CJ speech, click here

Kayani hits back — apparent reaction to bashing of generals
Baqir Sajjad, Dawn, Nov 6, 2012

ISLAMABAD: Riled up over onslaught of jabs against the military, Chief of the Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani responded on Monday to the critics warning them against undermining the institutions and behaving as the sole arbiters of the national interest.

“All systems in Pakistan appear to be in a haste to achieve something…. Let us take a pause and examine the two fundamental questions; One, are we promoting the rule of law and the Constitution?

“Two, are we strengthening or weakening the institutions?”, the general posed the questions at a meeting with army officers at the military headquarters.

The strongly-worded statement by Gen Kayani was immediately taken as a riposte to some of the observations by the Supreme Court in the Asghar Khan case about the ISI funding politicians in the past. But discussions with some of his aides revealed that the army chief believed that a ‘sinister campaign’ was being run against “the generals”, which not only created doubts about the military leadership, but also affected the morale of the troops fighting militancy.

Instant media reaction to Gen Kayani’s statement released late in the afternoon was hysterical with many talk show hosts lashing out at the army chief for what he had said. But hours later when people began to understand the full context of the top commander’s statement their responses were more accommodative and thoughtful.

Apart from the Asghar Khan case in which the Supreme Court held former army chief Gen (retd) Aslam Beg and ex-spymaster Lt-Gen (retd) Asad Durrani culpable for their misdeeds, the Public Accounts Committee had been actively pursuing the case against three generals and others accused of causing Rs1.8 billion losses to National Logistics Cell and the National Accountability Bureau last week began grilling three other generals for their involvement in the Railways’ Royal Palm Golf Course scam.

The court’s verdict in the Asghar Khan case had thrown open a debate about what was described as ‘unconstitutional and illegal’ involvement of the army and intelligence agencies in politics.

Last year’s Abbottabad raid had already significantly dented the army’s public standing and when the first of the evidence against the military officers began trickling into the public discourse people became more and more cynical about the integrity of the once unquestionable military leadership.

The verbal exchange that two of the three retired generals had with the media when they went to NAB for recording their statement reflected how the negative perceptions about the army personnel were playing on their minds.

Finger-pointing at the army and its affiliated agencies in the missing persons’ case also tarnished the image of the military.

The popular belief inside the military is that these problems have been further compounded by the ensuing ‘media trial’.

Although the accusations, other than the missing persons’ case, were against the retired generals, the GHQ believed that the general public and more particularly lower ranks generalised the allegations as being against the army’s top brass — thinking all to be alike.

“Gen Kayani’s statement had been necessitated due to sagging morale of the ranks,” an army officer explained.

For complete article, click here
For complete text of General Kayani statement, click here

Related Analysis:
What the army chief wants to convey, and to whom - Shaheen Sehbai, The News Missiles, Tanks Cannot Ensure Country's Security: Pak CJ - Outlook India