This news item , titled "Kurd Unhappy Over SC Verdict on NRO" caught my eye from today's Dawn. It begins:
"Ali Ahmed Kurd, the firebrand leader of the lawyers’ movement and former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, who has been keeping quiet for quite some time, surprised a lot of people on Tuesday with his blunt criticism of the way the Supreme Court was behaving. Judges should “behave like judges”, he said."
The Unhappy Kurd
We've recently also had Ms. Asma Jahangir also criticising the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) judgement in both a Dawn op-ed piece and on a talk show on Dunya TV (the written piece being much more well reasoned - though flawed - than her verbal arguments on tv), claiming that the Supreme Court had overstepped its mandate. Her basic argument was that the decision seemed like a "witch-hunt" and if the NRO was going to be declared illegal for being against the constituion, what was the point of referring it to the parliament to enact as a law if it could, that by doing so the court had tried to mock the parliament. That of course assumes that the Supreme Court had made up its mind before hearing the case that it would strike down the law. Her arguments that the court had overstepped its mandate by ensuring a monitoring process are actually also quite legally flawed since the court has long exercised the power to monitor the process of justice, not least in the case of accountability and anti-terrorism courts which also operate under the same principle. In the above news report, Ms. Jahangir is quoted as telling a seminar in Islamabad that the Supreme Court decision "appeared to be a decision pronounced by a 'jirga'."
The same report goes on to
"Mr Kurd said that an independent judiciary had been restored after a great struggle, adding that the country would become stronger if the judiciary acted in the manner expected by the nation during the struggle. “If it does not happen, it will cause a blow to national security.” "
Call me a cynic but isn't telling judges that 'they should behave like judges' and that they are 'over-stepping their mandate' and 'endangering national security' EXACTLY what General Musharraf had been doing and against which both these legal activists had raised their firebrand voices?
It would seem that everyone, including the activists of an independent judiciary, are actually only interested in getting judgements that suit their interpretation of the law. Anything else and they get sulky.