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Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry policy speech

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After being promised “mehngaai kam karay ga” and a panacea for all problems ailing Pakistan, Iftikhar Chaudhry has been restored (by hook or by crook, with no examination of accusations against him).

However, now that he is in power, if he does something that is good.

Whether he was corrupt or not (since his own lawyers thought he was not “sahih” but was a way to get at Musharraf), he is standing at a unique moment of support from lawyers around the country. And he CAN make some changes.

The “lawyer’s movement” was a PPP sponsored movement, which was designed to put Musharraf under pressure for better terms for Benazir’s return to Pakistan. This resulted in improved conditions for her (NRO). According to Sheikh Rashid recent interview, Benazir wanted 2 out of 3 things – Musharraf did not want to allow NRO, but Chaudhry brothers insisted that she be allowed NRO, but to NOT remove the 2 time limitation (which would prevent her from becoming PM again).

However after PPP support petered out (having achieved their goal), the “lawyer’s movement” lost much of it’s momentum (and much of it’s PPP “jiyala” lawyer base – which is substantial and vocal).

After that it could only rely on the (mostly non-lawyer, since Nawaz Sharif is not well represented among lawyers) support of Nawaz Sharif. Result is the “Long March” from Lahore to Islamabad which was dominated by PML-N with scarcely a lawyer to be seen. Lawyers were active, but their numbers were not the same as when PPP was financing the movement.

Lawyers were paid Rs. 4000 by Nawaz Sharif to “enter” Islamabad (according to Geo TV report on that day).

However AFTER all of that, the lawyers movement has acquired a place as “a player” in the political arena. Or to be more precise, the MEDIA has decided it is a player and to be consulted on all issues. Whether this is legitimate or not is another matter.

What it HAS done is it has placed the Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry in a position to make sweeping reforms of the judicial process. Even if he was corrupt before, the process he has gone through may have convinced him that he is here for “a higher purpose” and may motivate him to make changes. Whether he has the sagacity of mind to make changes where they are needed and to not make changes which are NOT needed is not clear so far.

While judges are supposed to dissassociate themselves from being too close to lawyers who appear before them, the fact remains that judges and judicial process in Pakistan was rife with corruption (with the oft repeated phrase “judge khareed lo, lawyer ki kya zaroorat hai” or something like that).

It is possible that this CJ (using his political clout that does exist at the moment) to strong arm through all the corrupt judges to make those changes that are needed. The judges for that matter (even the corrupt ones) MAY be feeling they are at the cusp of great change and they MIGHT be willing to mend their ways (though this will NOT make stupid judges suddenly wise and intelligent).

It IS correct that while among the lawyers there are MANY lawyers who make their living off being pimps for police and judges (i.e. are conduits for paying off police and judges – in fact, one of the presidents of the Islamabad Bar Council had just such a reputation), the great number of them CAN probably be convinced that eradication of corruption is best. In the heat of the moment they may wind up supporting measures which DO reform the system.

However it will mean that in the long run many of the current lawyers will no longer be able to earn a living, as they will need to do real lawyering – a number of “lawyers” cannot write a decent application since the standards for entry are extremely low. Prior to the explosion of TV media (which has made it a lucrative business), the print media and lawyering were the careers of last resort, since there were not as many barriers to entry. Lawyering was also relatively independent and this is one of the reasons why a lot of “jiyalas” (who had interrupted educational careers) wound up as lawyers.

Links:
1/5 Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry policy speech – AAJ TV – May 14, 2009
2/5 Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry policy speech – AAJ TV – May 14, 2009
3/5 Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry policy speech – AAJ TV – May 14, 2009
4/5 Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry policy speech – AAJ TV – May 14, 2009
5/5 Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry policy speech – AAJ TV – May 14, 2009

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Written by pwyoutube

May 15, 2009 at 7:49 am

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