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Pakistan’s Not So Honourable Judges

Zafar Bangash

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Justice is a fundamental pillar of society. It is essential for a society to function reasonably well. Without justice, turmoil ensues resulting in much suffering especially for ordinary people. While no society provides total justice, there is a modicum of justice for people to have some confidence in the system.

In many ayat of the noble Qur’an justice is emphasized: “O you who are securely committed [to Allah]! Be ever dynamic in standing up for social justice, bearing witness to the truth for the sake of Allah, even though it may be against your own selves or your parents and kinsfolk. Whether the person concerned be rich or poor, Allah’s claim takes precedence over [the claims of] either of them. Do not, then, follow your own desires, lest you swerve from justice: for if you distort [the truth] or disregard it, behold, Allah is indeed aware of all that you do!” (4:135).

In another ayah, it says: “O you who are committed [to Allah]! Be ever steadfastly active in your devotion to Allah, bearing witness to social justice [in real life]; and never let hatred of anyone lead you into the sin of deviating from justice. Be just: this is closest to being conscious of Allah’s [corrective power] …” (5:08).

“Verily, Allah demands justice and ihsaan (righteousness) …” (16:90).

In the contemporary world, justice is delivered through the courts. They are the last resort for people against the heavy-handedness of government, the bureaucracy and an assortment of other criminals. Justice must be delivered without fear or favour.

Courts, of course, are presided over by judges who take an oath to uphold the constitution and deliver judgements. In Pakistan’s case, the judges—we refuse to call them justices because they do not dispense justice—are a despicable bunch. Barring a few notable exceptions, the overwhelming majority of judges act on orders from the army. They have no regard for the rule of law or the constitution. They shamelessly violate the fundamental principles of law.

Why do judges in Pakistan behave in this manner? Unfortunately, there is a long history to their unprincipled conduct dating back to the early days of Pakistan’s creation. What the judges are doing at present is causing much harm to Pakistan and the interests of the people.

The masses have no faith in the courts because they are viewed as an extension of the military. The latter, or more precisely, the army, has declared war on the people. It has been doing this for decades but in recent years, their belligerence has intensified. The reason is that the former prime minister Imran Khan has created awareness among people about the army’s true nature.

It is not there to defend the country’s borders. Instead, it interferes in every facet of life and wants to maintain total control. There is no constitutional mandate for the army to do so but since it has the guns and tanks, the army top brass insists on dictating state policy.

Naturally, people challenge their illegal orders and actions in courts. Far from dispensing justice, the judges deliver verdicts based on what is dictated to them or handed down to them by some semi-literate colonel or brigadier.

Why do judges behave in this manner? The Pakistani elite including judges are thoroughly corrupt. They have usurped all power in the country and consider state resources as private property. They are not only corrupt but they also indulge in immoral conduct. The army’s intelligence agencies have become a pornographic industry making videos of people they ensnare in their honey traps.

Using prostitutes and call girls, intelligence operatives trap politicians, judges, police officers and bureaucrats in compromising situations. These videos are then used to blackmail them to comply with the army’s illegal orders. Not surprisingly, people succumb to such blackmail.

There are other methods as well that are used to force people to comply with the army’s demands. Many are offered bribes; this often works well since most people have no character. They are in the business of making money.

Those that resist such offers are threatened with dire consequences if they have not been ensnared in illicit sexual acts. Some courageous journalists like Arshad Sharif were murdered after driving them out of the country. Imran Riaz Khan was tortured for several months and since his release, he has not been able to speak because his torturers had poured hot water into his mouth burning his tongue. Few people, whether judges, bureaucrats, politicians or journalists are able to withstand such pressure.

We must look at specific examples of how judges are used to either whitewash the crimes of those that the army wants to install in power or tarnish the image of others by false cases against them. The cases of two former prime ministers illustrate this point.

Nawaz Sharif, a three-time former prime minister, was convicted by an accountability court for stealing the country’s wealth. He could not provide any evidence of how he got the money to buy expensive properties in England (Avenfield apartment in London) or Al Aziziya Steel Mill in Saudi Arabia for which he was convicted to a seven-year jail term and millions of dollars in fines. On December 12, 2023, the Islamabad High Court exonerated him of these charges.

On the other hand, another former prime minister Imran Khan is languishing in jail because the army wants him out of politics. The courts eagerly oblige. Even his personal character is being tarnished by making scandalous allegations against him for marrying his current wife, Bushra Bibi before the latter had completed her iddat (time a woman must wait for after divorce before she can remarry).

While such scandalous allegations have not affected Imran Khan’s reputation among the masses, the courts’ behaviour is nothing short of scandalous. On orders from the army, they are hounding Imran Khan and his party leaders and workers. There is not even the minimal standard of justice.

Pakistani judges have never had a good reputation. Their recent conduct has sunk them even lower. One wonders how low can they get. Given the despicable conduct of judges, there is no limit to their depravity.

Article from

Crescent International Vol. 53, No. 11

Jumada' al-Akhirah 19, 14452024-01-01

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