Dec 18, 2009

Critical mass

By Anjum Niaz

A fly on the wall heard the incumbent on the hill tell a lawyer friend, "I'm not scared of going to jail but this time do char ko lapait ker jaon ga." The sentence is loaded, so better to leave it at that… Meanwhile haunted by a demon for over two years, we are finally free. Our nightmare is over. We've been rescued by knights in shining armour, seventeen of them who have slain the beast called the NRO. For the grievous wrong perpetrated on us by planning and executing the NRO, America and Britain stand guilty. The 180 million Pakistanis have a right to be compensated for the financial and emotional damages caused by the two. The NRO in October 2007 brought back thugs, low-lifes, murderers and absconders from law to rule Pakistan. Every self-respecting citizen suffered humiliation, anger, helplessness, mental torture and low self-esteem. The billions of dollars stolen from the people by the NRO beneficiaries got forgiven. And their frozen bank accounts and seized properties around the world handed back to them on a golden platter. Do you call this reconciliation? Do you call this democracy?

Will the International Court of Justice at The Hague entertain our plea against the US and UK? Will the UN take up the issue of external interference in the affairs of a sovereign state? You've got to be kidding! When our government itself commits the crime against its own citizens while in cahoots with foreign powers, emasculates the superior judiciary and butchers the constitution as Musharraf did, who can the people appeal to?

Certainly not to Obama or Brown! With 'Friends of Pakistan' like them, who needs enemies?

Our hero today is the Supreme Court and the seventeen judges led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry. Before we begin the accountability process, the man on the street, the housewife in the kitchen, the petty shop-owner, the labourer, the lawyer, the honest civil servant, the small fry in the military, the hardworking professional, the intellectual and the academic needs to question the ingenious role played by Washington and London in summer of 2007. No, not even a dullard, a duffer, a moron among us was duped into believing that for democracy's sake, we needed the NRO.

And yet, George Bush and Gordon Brown conspired to hatch a plot that would in one fell swoop forgive the sins of the former first couple and their corrupt coterie. We were shell-shocked when the NRO was announced and Benazir Bhutto boarded a flight to Pakistan. The whole affair was surreal and loathsome. How could sworn enemies, BB and Musharraf, co-exist? Even an idiot knew it would never happen, but our ignoramus foreign friends stringing Musharraf from afar thought their plan was fault-proof.

American Ambassador Anne Patterson and British High Commissioner Mark Lyall Grant, representing Washington and London, respectively, were the busiest pair going in Islamabad. They were brazenly in connivance with Musharraf and his advisers blatantly plotting the NRO. It was the season of shamelessness – Musharraf jettisoned Chief Justice Chaudhry along with the superior judiciary and suspended the constitution on November 3. The US and the UK kept silent.

With Benazir's death in December, Pakistan was plunged into darkness. Soon Patterson and Grant's successor, the bland Robert Blinkley, got to work on BB's widower after the PPP won the polls in February 2008. The duo were daily visitors at Bilawal House in Islamabad, the home of Zardari. What got discussed? Obviously the two hardnosed envoys negotiated tough with the widower over national security issues. Once he gave in, he was propped up into the presidency. But it's been downhill since. In the People versus America/Britain/Zardari/NRO case, the Supreme Court has declared the People victorious. Let this be a lesson for Washington and London. Never mess with the critical mass!

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