“Zalmo Qazi Aa Raha Hai” was one of the catchiest political slogans in Pakistan’s murky political history. Finally, today, after more than thirty years, the Qazi has arrived, but in the process, he has undergone a change of name from Qazi Hussain Ahmed to Qazi Faez Isa.
The Qazi who had coined the slogan was the leader of Jamaat-i-Islami. His slogan caught on because even then, as now, the people of Pakistan believed that the greatest “ZULM” inflicted on Pakistan, from which all other injustices were born, was that of the naked corruption by the elite.
Following the example of these elites, we, the lesser ones, also joined the party, lined our pockets, and helped destroy our value system.
This was so mercilessly destroyed that today, theft in high places is taken as a right, while the odd man trying to avoid any taint of theft is looked down upon as someone who is soft in the head!
If one reason is to be singled out as the cause of Pakistan’s steep decline from a young country soaring on the wings of hope to one stuck deep in the mire of utter disillusionment, it has to be the pursuit of unquenchable greed by its leaders in every sphere, the killings made during this pursuit, and the immunity they enjoy against the crime of this bloodletting.
The expectations regarding Justice Qazi Isa are varied to the extent of being contradictory. A few hold him up as a judge of great legal insight driven by principles. Many say he is a man of moods, and his judgments are likely to be dictated by the side of the bed he got up from. Most, including myself, see him as a judge severely compromised.
His stance on the basis of which he (or his family) sought exoneration on the charge of possessing assets beyond means amounted when stripped of all legalese, to an unprincipled assertion of a judge’s right to stand beyond the reach of the relevant law on this subject. In short, his position was that whereas lesser beings could be charged for having assets beyond their known means of income, a judge was too elevated a rank to fall within the ambit of a law made for the low and the mean.
But his greatest sin was his dismissal of the Hudaibya case, thereby providing exoneration in perpetuity to the biggest crime family in Pakistan. This was the only open and shut case of mega corruption in Pakistan’s legal history, backed by a most detailed and unshakable confession by one of the participants.
In this case, Justice Isa WILLFULLY chose to stand by the letter of the law instead of following its spirit, a window which was opened by the directions of the Supreme Court. He KNEW that this case was deliberately rendered time-barred by Chairman NAB, the highest officer of the law, who, instead of pursuing wrongdoers to their graves, chose instead to get them out of their graves to give them a fresh lease of life. Justice Issa thus cemented the efforts of the most corrupt man ever to head NAB and stood by him, instead of standing by the cause of justice.
Spiritually, it appears that both Justice Issa and the army’s high command are driven by the same impulse. While the Qazi locked the gates of jail in front of the most corrupt family in Pakistan, the army’s high command betrayed its oath and its country by overthrowing the legal government and handing the entire nation over to a group of its most acclaimed criminals. This scale of actions is indeed grand, but not in a positive sense.
Just as the high command will never be forgiven for what they have done, the Qazi is also unlikely to escape judgment. However, he has thirteen months and a week ahead of him to atone for his sins, unlike the high command, which, despite a change at its top, seems dedicated to reinforcing its original crime with ever new ones with each passing day.
If Justice Isa chooses to stand by his country as he once stood by the sordid Sharif family in the Hudaibya case, he will inevitably have to stand against the high command. His first decisive action, timely and impactful, will set the course for his own redemption as well as that of his country. This will elevate his status from the bottom drawer to the very top. The applause of a suffering people will be sweeter to him than the ceremonial trumpet that ushered him in as Chief Justice.
If, by chance, he leans in this direction, let him start with his own house of inequity. Let him expose the misconduct of Justice Amir Farooq and Judge Humayun Dilawar, metaphorically stripping them of their judicial robes and placing their wigs where they belong. This act will provide not only comic relief to the public but also legal relief to those who have suffered injustices at their hands. This initial step can then pave the way for a series of more substantial reforms.
Never has this impoverished country and its oppressed people yearned for a hero as they do today. Will the Chief Justice rise above the facade of a smirk he passes off as a smile and the harsh demeanour with which he dispenses displeasure? Will he demonstrate that his name is in harmony with the office he holds and the spirit it is supposed to embody, as it has for the past fourteen centuries?