‘Judges should stay, generals should go’
* SM Zafar says superior judiciary has lost prestige
* ‘Two offices bill’ does not bar Musharraf from shedding his uniform
By Waqar Gillani
LAHORE: The superior judiciary has lost its respect due to the continuous interference of the executive pillar of the state and now to regain its dignity, judges should stay and army generals should leave the government, said Senator SM Zafar, the senior vice president of the Pakistan Muslim League.
He was addressing a seminar titled ‘What should be our national priorities in the current international perspective?’, arranged by Focus Pakistan, a civil society group, on Wednesday.
Mr Zafar said the judiciary, the most important and critical pillar of the sate, had lost its sanctity because of the flaws in the judicial system and interference of the executives.
He said security and justice were the main public welfare issues of the state, but the judiciary had been hijacked by the executive. He praised the role of the Pakistan Bar Council and other lawyers associations that had protested in the federal capital on the issue of the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO).
He said the time had come for those who had been interfering in the judiciary to go. He said many judges had to leave due to the introduction of the PCO. “It is not easy to make a judge or general,” he said but generals had stayed and judges been shown the door.
“Now judges should stay and general should go,” he said.
Mr Zafar said his many foreign clients believed that there was no rule of law Pakistan. “This is damaging the image of Pakistan at the international level,” he said. “This is not because of the security concerns but because of our judicial system.”
He said it was ironic that the meaning of justice was to maneuver the judiciary to get a judgment in one’s favour. “The fact is that we do not respect the law,” he said.
Later, talking to reporters, he said that the bill allowing General Prevez Musharraf to keep two offices, which is yet to be passed by the Senate, would not bar the general from shedding his uniform.
Lt Gen (r) Moeenuddin Haider highlighted security and terrorism issues. He accused the United States of abandoning jihadis after using them for its interests in the region.
He said the Pakistan’s political and education system should be reformed. He said people felt unsafe even in mosques and homes. He said extremism and sectarianism had become major issues and suicide bombers were launching attacks in Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan.
He said madrassas had been accused of preparing terrorists, but they had not been like this until they started focusing on religious studies alone and ignoring other disciplines.
He said during the ‘holy war’ in Afghanistan in 1980, America had patronised 35,000 to 40,000 Arab militants but it did not develop the area after defeating Russia. “It would have been much cheaper at that time than it will be today,” he said. “Actually, America always serves its own interests and attracts rulers, rather than working for the welfare of the people in its areas of interest.” He criticised the American doctrine of preemptive strikes and a recent pro-Israeli law. Mr Haider appealed to Al Qaeda to not use Pakistan for its activities. He said that Al Qaeda had many supporters in political-cum-religious parties in Pakistan because Pakistan had a major role in Afghanistan’s “holy war”.
He said the Afghan war had created jihadis. “But we will have to take action against such people who support terrorism,” he said while citing the Wana operation in the NWFP.
He said Pakistan should have a “real” democracy and in that the army had no role. He said all political parties and other forces, including the army, should discuss a viable solution to the issue.
A former speaker of the National Assembly, Syed Fakahr Imam, said the toppling of democratic governments and the lack of a strong political system were the main causes of Pakistan’s problems. He said in Pakistan they had failed to evolve a legitimate political system and government. He said Pakistan was an autocracy and the removal of three prime ministers in a short span of time by one man on the basis of his likes illustrated this. He said General Pervez Musharraf was obeying America very well, but he had not succeeded in getting F-16 jets yet.
The provincial education minister, Mian Imran Masood, highlighted the Punjab government’s effort to improve the literacy rate.