Tuesday, August 9, 2011

With Friends Like These...

On Geo's Aapas Ki Baat show today, Najam Sethi referred to an interview that Imran Khan gave a few days ago and expressed incredulity that more notice had not been taken of the explosive claims the PTI chief had made. In it, Sethi said, Khan had claimed that a message had gone out from the army chief General Kayani to the Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry not to drag the army into its battles with the government, and specifically that if the Supreme Court invoked Article 190 of the constitution (requiring all executive and judicial authorities to come to the aid of the Supreme Court), it should not expect the army to come to its aid.

I was truly surprised because I too had not heard about this claim anywhere and, if true, Sethi's incredulity would be absolutely spot on. Leave aside the whole question of what Article 190 actually states - for the record, there is no mention of the military in it and, in any case, even if the SC invokes 190, it does not automatically translate into calling upon the army to intervene - if true, Imran Khan's claims should have amounted to a scandalization of the Supreme Court. Not only was he claiming that there were backdoor contacts between the army and the SC, he was actually saying that the court was willing to take into account political considerations in its judgements (yes, yes, let's leave the snide comments for the time being).

Once I started searching for where these claims appeared, it quickly became clear to me why more notice had not been taken by the media and the public over these comments. The said interview was on Dr Shahid Masood's new show on Express News, called Shahidnama, which aired first on July 27. I mean, who watches Dr S&M anyway (new hair notwithstanding)?? Perfectly understandable that it went under the radar for most people...

In any case, here is the clip... the relevant portion begins around 02:20 into the clip.




For those who do not understand Urdu, this is a translated transcript of the operative part of the interview:

IK: If the Supreme Court goes towards 190 and demands that state institutions come to its aid, which is in 190, I say the army should stand with the Supreme Court. My information is that, last October, when the Supreme Court was moving ahead on the NRO [National Reconciliation Ordinance], a message was conveyed from the army to it, that if you invoke 190, we will not come [to your aid].
SM: You're saying a very big thing here...
IK: This is my information.
SM: How reliable is it? Do you believe on [sic] it?
IK: I think it's very reliable. They gave this message then that if the Chief Justice...because then the Chief Justice backed down. I believe that...
SM: One minute Imran, let me repeat this. The army sent a message to the court not to move ahead on this, otherwise 'we will not stand with you'...
IK: Yes, 'we will not allow destabilization'. Meaning they would not let democracy be destabilized...
SM: So, the judges...
IK: ..and now they've completely ruined democracy..
SM: No, but listen to me. Why did the judges back down?
IK: Look...
SM: This is very strange...
IK: The amount of pressure this government has put on Chief Justice Iftikhar.. neither did the friendly opposition come to his aid, because in the 18th Amendment they also sat on /sided with [unclear] the Parliamentary Committee...
SM: Imran wait...
IK: Listen to me...
SM: People like us get killed in the crossfire of these silent messages. I often get killed personally. I have shared this in private with you and you know, I have often got killed in the crossfire. I mean, the message goes across to 'them' and we get hit in the crossfire...

It goes on but you get the idea. So not only did Imran Khan claim that the SC was open to receiving messages from the army/ outsiders influencing it, but that the learned judges who are supposed to dispense justice on the merits of the law without fear or favour or other extraneous considerations, allowed that message to influence their judgements. As Sethi pointed out, forget the media not taking this up, neither did the Supreme Court take notice of this clear scandalization, nor was any clarification ever issued by the ISPR, denying any of this.

Unwittingly, Immy bhai has dealt a real body blow to the institution he claims to want to strengthen. Can the Supreme Court allow this open contempt of court to pass? Can it afford not to haul Immy bhai up on charges of scandalizing the court, especially while threatening the government and others with possible contempt and condemning bureaucrats left right and centre on the same charges? Can the military afford to continue to keep mum? Let us see if DrS&M really does get hit in the crossfire once again or not.


8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Najam Sethi aur aap loag shatanion k upar aa gay ho. This is purely a matter of public discourse/discussion and any condemnation of Immy bhai should be restricted to this sphere. The Supreme court doesn't need to be encouraged to take punitive action against citizens exercising their right to free speech.

We don't need another sacred cow.

p.s: And to my knowledge the only reason the Supreme Court has been threatening possible contempt is because they feel their orders are being defied. Completely different issue, No?

Abbas said...

He's just stating something he heard from someone.

Blogger bhai, baat ka batangar banany ki kia zarurat hai - waisy bhi, jo haalat PPP or Zardari ki hukumat ne hamary mulk ore adaalti nizaam ki ki hai, usky baat kaahy ka contempt of court and kaahy ki awaam ore democracy ka khayal?

Anonymous said...

What else do you expect from the shehanshah of chootias, Imran Khan?

Magnum said...

What else can you expect from this guy?

Also, about IK supporters, even if he sells their grandmothers, they'll still be convoluting some way to justify the act.

Khan sahib is losing the plot, over and over again.

ZC said...

Anybody who carefully listens to the interview can observe that the points made with such full force by Cafe Pyala cannot be made with the certainty they exhibit.

Imran Khan makes a clear, categorical statement at first, which is that a message was conveyed from the army to the SC about not helping them. Anybody who logically looks at this can see that this does not necessarily mean that the army and SC have a set, standard channel of communication, nor that the SC solicited any response from the army before taking any decision, nor that the SC backed down only as a result of this.

Two important points that need to be brought up here:

First, yes, one can think that the SC backed down due to the army's reply, though this seems more in the conspiratorial tone that CP generally love to pan, but hey, it serves your narrative here.

Second, the way IK speaks is: clear statement. He doesn't mention the SC backing away here. Then, on SM probing him further, he repeats what he says, but nonchalantly seems to add "tab SC peechay hat gaya".

Did the CJP tell IK's source that they are backing down exactly because of army's response? IK doesn't say this and it's this part which would have been the major scoop, but IK says nothing like this, from which normally we'd understand that such a thing didn't happen...

Anyway, considering on how many cases the SC has taken the government to task and pushed them really hard, and enlisted the bureaucracy's help the Article-190 way and made clear that the armed forces have no role to play, it is very unlikely that the SC is being so easily influenced by the army.

Kazim said...

What if IK's claims are true? Did he not then just highlight an issue that needs highlighting? And so, did he not then just act to strengthen the judicial system?

You've dismissed his claims because he does not at the outset make clear his accusatory statements against the court and the army... that the court backed down because of what the army said. Political considerations might be holding him back? Many reasons.

Maybe you should focus your post on asking for more clarifications. Asking the court to investigate this "baseless" claim is a bit too much.

I'm just saying...

Reasoner said...

What a moron IK is ... SM kept on asking modus operandi by poor moron IK has no answer....

Anonymous said...

Listening to Imran Khan is like listening to a broken record - whining endlessly about "krupt" Zardari, Nawaz and company! How does that make him a visionary leader?
His desperate supporters are in for a big disappointment.