The joke

Fasi Zaka

Q: Why will Asif Ali Zardari be taking his oath as president during Ramazan? Ans. Because he wants the whole nation to be ready to fast for the next five years. Not a great joke, but one I wrote and sent by SMS to ten of my friends who have a lot of friends. On a personal note, I despise receiving forwarded text messages of jokes or moral guidance that seem to be very popular these days. But the only reason I did this was in response to a news item I read that the FIA is in gear to investigate the slander campaign against Asif Ali Zardari via SMS. Why the government is investigating bored individuals with time on their hands and a surplus of phone credit is anyone’s guess, but it’s a bad, bad, actually very bad precedent of the use of government resources to protect individuals.

What will the government do to the Wall Street Journal which seems to think that Pakistan is the one country that makes a compelling case against democracy (in the wake of Zardari’s presidential bid)? But truth be told, the whole rekindling of negativity is in the wake of the broken promises against the judiciary that Zardari is responsible for, reawakening the criticism harking back to the time when he was Pakistan’s most disliked individual after the moratorium of criticism in the wake of his wife’s assassination.

But what is missing is that the whole argument of the villains in the judiciary issue seems to be lopsided against Zardari only. Nawaz Sharif may be the champion of the law now, but we must remember this is the same man under whose tutelage one of the worst incidents against the Supreme Court took place, a physical assault.

The manner in which Justice Sajjad Ali Shah was taken down left a lot to be desired, and it was all under the helm of Nawaz Sharif. In a highly contorted manner, the Chief Justice was removed and another one took his place. So then, if Nawaz Sharif is the only other alternative, when he had the chance to nominate a presidential nominee he could have chosen someone that was above petty differences, was national in outlook and had an unblemished past in terms of controversy.

And he chose? Justice Saeeduzzaman. The very man who replaced Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah in that very unfortunate turn of events in the past. While Nawaz Sharif may talk the talk, he isn’t walking the walk. The resolution of the judges’ issue requires people to think above self interest; with his nomination, it doesn’t seem like he is thinking on those lines. How different is that from Asif Ali Zardari nominating his sister as the covering candidate for the presidential election?

In Newsweek quite recently Asif Ali Zardari gave an interview, and while it’s interesting to note how he abhorred revenge, the key phrase of Benazir “Democracy is the best revenge” was used often. I almost wish that the PPP were saying “The Rule of Law is the best revenge.” In a recent article Shandana Minhas wrote of the recent events in exasperation “But we didn’t kill Benazir!”

For all intents and purposes it seems that the restoration of the judges is now a dead issue, gone so long that it will require a cataclysm to bring them back, like a change in government, and that in itself will also be severely problematic for the country. When Zardari becomes president, he will take oath from a judge who has replaced those deposed.
If that oath is his promise, then it’s to the current judiciary, not the one sent packing.
The writer is a Rhodes scholar and former academic. Email: fasizaka
Source: The News, 4th September, 2008

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