NEW YORK: Supreme Court Bar Association President Aitzaz Ahsan has said that former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz convinced President Pervez Musharraf to fire Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and played his fear that the CJ was going to deicide against him in his bid to be the President for another term. Aitzaz Ahsan sated while addressing at the New York City Bar and talks to SAJA forum about the lawyers’ movement, the prospects for reinstatement of the judges ousted by Musharraf and the role of Pakistan’s media.
Aitzaz Ahsan said: “I think Shaukat Aziz poisoned Musharraf’s ears after the Steel Mills Case, which was a judgment that was an indictment of the Prime Minister. After the Supreme Court decided that case, people started saying – including myself in speeches in the National Assembly which the Prime Minister could be indicted and ought to be indicted. So there is some evidence of the fact that Shaukat Aziz began to advise Musharraf to fire the Chief Justice [Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry] and played on his fear that the Chief Justice was going to decide against him in his bid to be the President for another term. So I think it was mainly this, a paranoia that was created in Musharraf’s mind by Shaukat Aziz”.
The SCBA President said that he thinks it was the inspiration that they got – that everyone got, that the entire country got – from the refusal on the 9th of March 2007 by the Chief Justice to surrender his discretion or to succumb to the pressure exerted upon him by five [Pakistan Army] generals. “I think that was the most inspirational moment in this entire movement. And that had kind of a carryover momentum which inspired more judges on the 3rd of November 2007 to refuse to capitulate [when Musharraf imposed “Emergency” rule” he said.
Aitzaz Ahsan pointed out that lawyers’ movement in Pakistan is unprecedented, in South Asian history; there has never been a movement like this, sustained over 16 months now, more than a year. And for both lawyers and judges, it has been the inspiration provided by one individual that has made it happen. As China Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong said: A single spark can set an entire prairie on fire.
” I have a sense that the American administration would like the judges not to be restored. Although I believe this position was originally intended not to embarrass Pervez Musharraf, I think that now that position has solidified and that Pervez Musharraf himself is not as relevant as the fear of these independent judges. Even the Americans seem to believe that independent judges may not be good for their interests in Pakistan – which is a convoluted logic, which is absolutely illogical, but I think that they now believe as much” he added.
Aitzaz Ahsan said that the first of all, the media has played a very significant and important role. Second, the gift of free media is not Musharraf’s gift; it is technology, adding that there is no way you can keep the free media out. If you keep the free media out, there will be satellite TV channels and other channels that people will begin to watch. So it’s not out of any love for free media. It’s out of the fact that there cannot now, in this day and age, be a blackout of the media. So if things will be watched by the people on other channels anyway – from Indian TV channels, for instance.
“It’ safer for the Pakistan Government to have Pakistani TV channels and to be able to influence those channels, and the government still does influence the Pakistani TV channels. They knock out TV programs that are critical, as has happened recently on Pakistani Urdu Geo Television Capital Talk show, moderated by Journalist Hamid Mir” Aitzaz Ahsan noted.-SANA