Drama in Real Life

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Iftekhar A Khan

Since the senior-most judges will occupy the exalted positions by virtue of their seniority, it’s most likely that every citizen irrespective of his status will be treated according to the law

Looking at the period of the last four years plus in hindsight, the political scene at the national level appears to be a high drama played out by the mighty and the powerful. The spectators, the confused and the bewildered public, were no more than the helpless pawns as usual. Many who remained abreast with news thought the change was imminent and that things couldn’t go on the way they were for long. The suspense continues.
During the transitory period before the PTI took over power, the police instituted 17,000 criminal cases against the members of the outgoing ruling party, as reported by the press (Reuters report). It defined the route in which way the new government would move and with what vengeance it would register new cases against its political opponents. And with alacrity, it would watch its opponents going in and out of the courts as alleged criminals. Or they would face investigations by the dreaded NAB, under its (former) chairman – man of all seasons.
More than four years later on the day of writing this piece, Imran Khan, to comply with the orders of the anti-terrorism court, appeared before the joint investigation team of the Islamabad Police in connection with a case of terrorism registered against him. He had allegedly threatened Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry during a public rally in Islamabad. He avoided appearing before the JIT as long as he could but had to lower his tall ego after the third notice served to him by the court. Recall how Imran Khan never tired of lecturing us “there’s one law for the poor and another for the rich in this country.”
The bureaucrats suffered the worst during the PTI rule. The PTI government shuttled six IGs of police in less than three years. One of the IGs in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had hardly completed a month when he was replaced by another one during the general elections of 2018. During Usman Buzdar’s tenure as chief minister of Punjab, the postings and transfers of the bureaucrats and police officers were made by WhatsApp messages. His stay in government earned the sobriquet ‘WhatsApp government’. One feels sorry a rare gem and genius like Buzdar may never become a chief minister ever again. It’s a national loss. Pun not intended.
However, the PTI government became so used to shuffling the bureaucrats at whims that a stage came when its chairman began to meddle in the appointment of the COAS. It befuddles the people the way Imran made the appointment of the COAS controversial. How can he discuss such a sensitive matter in public rallies when he is no more than a member of the national assembly? Nobody is sure when the next elections will be held in the country and who the new prime minister will be. According to the constitution, the PM at the time will have the prerogative to appoint the new COAS with the consultations of the right quarters.
But considering purely the moral grounds, the top appointments such as the COAS and the Chief Justices of the provincial courts and the Supreme Court of the country must be based on seniority, instead of the discretion of the appointing authority. Simply put, The senior most individuals both in the armed forces and the judiciary may be appointed to hold the top slots. Those who reach the upper levels of their organisations are equally capable and qualified for the top slots. Therefore, seniority alone instead of other considerations should prevail.
If this rule is implemented, we will be rid of the innumerable recurring issues the nation faces. s For instance, Justice Qazi Faez Issa is the senior most in line of promotion to the most coveted position. If a gentleman of his integrity and uprightness occupies the top slot, it will be a great service to the nation. Eminent writer Arundhati Roy commented about inequity in her book Listening to Grasshoppers: “It is always the influential who get away with murder while the wretched have only God to come to their aid.” Is our state of “rule of law” any different?