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The Legal Revolution In Pakistan
They say when you obey the rules, the rules obey you.
Pakistan, a country infamous for its follies in the judicial system has something to be happy about and has a rope of hope to hold on to. One of the biggest mistakes we as citizens of Pakistan make is not to trust our judicial institutions at all. We don’t realize how powerful the law actually is. You shouldn’t complain about injustice if you never really take the stand for your rights. Nevertheless, as Pakistan moves on there has been a change in this narrative and perception among the masses.
You all might’ve seen the audacious activist Alamgir Khan who runs his Fixit campaign in Karachi against the authorities. In a recent turn of comical events, he was arrested near CM House and guess what his last words were after sitting in the police mobile, “Ye abhi badmashi dikha rahay hain, inko mei qanooni jawab dunga.” (They are bullying around right now, I’ll answer them legally.) They keep him for a day in lockup and then were forced to release him the next day. Had he reacted on the spot they would’ve had a legitimate case to victimize him in a court of law. He didn’t and he was set free. That’s the power of law, that’s how much it is willing to respect you, if you respect it.
Jibran Nasir, a 29 years old lawyer and activist, has been persistently running his campaign against the Lal Masjid cleric Abdul Aziz now. Abdul Aziz was that individual in our state who refused to accept the Constitution of Pakistan and defied the legitimacy of the Government numerous times. Nobody was brave enough to demand a case to be lodged against him for his obvious crimes. Jibran Nasir using the weapon of law, was not only successful in getting the police to lodge an FIR against him but also forced the person who defied the law openly to come forward before a Judge to listen to his bail plea.
Exiting The Dystopia
Thus, as said earlier, obey the rules and they’ll obey you. People are starting to realize this simple fact and have started fighting all their battles on legal grounds. Getting your way through Pakistan’s judicial system is tedious and cumbersome but the narrative that you won’t be served justice at all is a myth. There should be no doubt on the basic belief of Khatam e Nabooat but still there exists an extremist mindset over the issue and despite widely held strong beliefs in our society over Mumtaz Qadri, the person who murdered Governor Punjab in cold blood over blasphemy allegations, our Judiciary didn’t stand by him. Even the despised by some Federal Shariat Court gave a verdict against him. Any act committed outside the domain of law has very little sympathies in our judicial system. Even if you get away with a crime one time the system of appeal up till the Supreme Court is so strong that sooner or later you are bound to get caught one way or another.
So what initiated this revolution in Pakistan? I would say the turning point was the fall of Musharraf by the movement for restoration of Judiciary. This movement instilled the lawyers and judicial system with such zeal and spirit that they achieved the unexpected. This is when they realized their true role and worth in the state. From there on we have seen our Judiciary dismissing a Prime Minister on contempt of court, investigating an election on rigging allegations, taking suo moto notices on issues, ordering clearance of illegal settlements in the capital, forcing the provincial governments to carry out local body elections and what not. The judiciary today speaks boldly and without fear, it demands accountability and rule of law in all matters.
This is just one step in the right direction for the judiciary. In order to see the Judiciary in its true glory and might we need reforms, we need legislation and most importantly we need Parliamentarians who are willing to do this for the generations to come in true zeal and spirit. We need to keep aside our personal interests and strengthen this pillar of our society.
As we move on with our dream of nation building, I want to be hopeful about the future prospects of my country. I see these small things collectively as indicators of a slow and steady revolution. Pakistan is far from perfect but at least it’s moving in the right direction now.