The last quarter of 2013 is important as President Asif Ali Zardari completes his term in office, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Choudhry (CJP) retires, and the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Pervaiz kayani goes home after having availed of his three years extension.
Naturally, replacing them all is a real challenge. So some modification in the current policy matters may become imperative just to re-model/facelift three respective areas namely the Presidency, the Judiciary and the military respectively.
The painful history of the past military take overs reminds us of the harsh realities associated with it. But every time, the coup maker succeeded in getting validation sticker from the Apex court under the pretext of doctrine of necessity.
Originally a PCO judge himself, Mr. Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Choudhry thwarted all pressure from General Musharraf, and on 3rd November 2007 emergency/mini martial law was imposed. Those who took oath under fresh PCO stayed and the rest of the judges around sixty were house arrested.
BB’s assassination was cashed by the PPP and later on President Musharraf had to step down to make room for Zardari.
With the intervention of general Kayani, the Zardari regime finally restored the Choudhry judiciary replacing the Dogar judiciary.
Ever since, starting with repealing of NRO, Justice Iftikhar Choudhry has been passing historic judgments independently, but the PPP government has been defying all apex court verdicts.
Despite its failures to deliver, the PPP regime managed to last for full term of five years, however, the credit goes to the shrewd Zardari who occupies the Presidency since 2008.
The COAS General Kayani, a cool headed gentleman stayed away from interfering in the political matters. And Justice Choudhry didn’t invoke article 190 asking for the military intervention for his verdicts to be implemented for reason of expediency. Many believe that because of the international situation, the army has been too busy on the western border and is not in a position to take any step against the system at present and in the foreseeable future.
National Security Issue: Pakistan Tehreeq-i-Insaaf Chairman Imran Khan’s concern about national security is genuine one. He has called for a closed-door meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani before an all parties conference (APC) on national security takes place.
Nevertheless, with the issue of replacements, the uncertainty again looms over Pakistan as it’s a major challenge for the third timer Prime Minister. He must play smart this time.
Firstly, will the new chief justice be as strong as the current one enabling the apex judiciary to carry on with their verdicts without interference from any quarter?
Secondly, is there any guarantee that the cool headed Kayani has persuaded his soldiers to remain subservient to the government after he leaves office?
The major worry is if the army is just monitoring now to retaliate later.
Most probably, the incoming bosses will adopt policies different from the ones being pursued at present. If that happens, the whole picture may change abruptly with new appointments.
Suggestions for choosing criterion:
Reviewing the past makes the future foreseeable with ease: Iskandar Mirza selected Ayub Khan, Bhutto selected Zia-ul-Haq, Nawaz selected Musharraf, and all selectees went for coup against the selectors.
It’s said, “Once bitten twice shy.” This time Nawaz will have to be extra careful while choosing. He should also take civil and military administration onboard while appointing someone on such high profile position.
Another clue is, if the prime minister goes for a General who is honest, efficient, a decent human being, qualified for this position based on seniority, and a super clean record, and then there is not even a slight chance of adventurism on his part to threaten the civilian government.
Surely, the Army chief selected on the basis of strict merit will be efficient and intelligent enough to meet the national and international challenges without any reluctance in the best interest of the country.
So based on the multiple factors including seniority and the merit, the next Chief of the Army Staff and the Chief Justice of the Supreme court of Pakistan can be picked with confidence.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has no option but to adhere to the principle of sequence of seniority list; he should not violate the rule by giving extension to the retiring General as this will amount to deprive the others to avail their right.
However after the retirement of the two chiefs, the services of Mr. Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Choudhry can be best utilized as Advisor law and justice to help maintain the momentum of judicial reforms, whereas, General kayani can be retained as military advisor to the government of Pakistan for his experience with the US and the NATO, so that 2014 withdrawal takes place smoothly as scheduled.
Furthermore, the common prediction is President Zardari would leave the country before the day of losing his presidential immunity, yet anything pending against him prior to becoming the president remains open for litigation beyond doubt.
This time again, it’s up to the Legislators and Senators to elect a good person and they better avoid sending a notorious person to the presidency.
Believe or not, if a wise voting takes place, there will not be any international embarrassment as was there due to ill reputed outgoing President.
Pakistan democracy is far from maturity. It will flourish if the culture and mindset of all involved changes for the better.