31 January 2008

An Independent Judiciary

Pakistani Justice Breaks Silence

The deposed chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, has sent a letter to a number of foreign leaders reminding them that, despite his recent travels, Musharraf is not a good man.

Throughout the letter, Mr. Chaudhry referred to the president as General Musharraf, underlining the constitutional questions surrounding the legality of his leadership. Mr. Musharraf was army chief when he took power in a bloodless coup in 1999 and was elected president in 2002 and again last October by national and provincial assemblies. Legal challenges remain related to his dual military-civilian role, as well as to whether he had already served the constitutionally allowed number of terms.

Musharraf is a dictator, and he's trying to play up that that he was (nominally) elected. He tries to down play the harsher things he does. And apparently, while on his travels, he talked trash about the judiciary he has dissolved.

Chaudhry is under house arrest, of course they don't call it that, just like we don't call them prisoners of war. But there are people with guns outside the house that don't let anyone in to talk to him and don't let him out. His daughter snuck the letter out.

Mr. Chaudhry insisted that he would continue his struggle for the independence of the judiciary. “There can be no democracy without an independent judiciary, and there can be no independent judge in Pakistan until the action of Nov. 3 is reversed,” the letter read. “Whatever the will of some desperate men, the struggle of the valiant lawyers and civil society of Pakistan will bear fruit. They are not giving up.”

Despite all the things that have gone wrong in Pakistan, there are still people who are willing to say things like this, to talk about democracy with such hope. People who don't see the will of the people as something that can be bought, sold, ignored, or twisted beyond recognition. There are people who see democracy as an idea that could really work for them.

I suppose thats part of the reason I keep coming back to Pakistan on Thursdays, I want our democracy to work, to really reflect our will. But Pakistan is just approaching democracy, where as we are in an older democracy and we've become so desensitized to it that we can't see the cracks.

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