In my immediate response to Asma Jahangir’s victory titled “Asma Jahangir’s victory is a loss for Jang Group’s yellow journalism” I had expressed my glee over the symbolic nature of her victory. It was also heartening to see a wide variety of response to mood in this camp. That is the beauty of freedom of speech. I listen to you and you listen to me. We listened to the media for the last two years. Now it is for the people to do the talking. Coming to Asma Jahangir’s victory in the SCBA elections, it was all the more important because of some of the following reasons:
- Whether or not Asma Jahangir supports the PPP or is supported by the PPP, one thing is for sure: she doesn’t side with those people against whom we, the supporters of PPP are struggling
- Her victory came in the backdrop of an unbelievable media campaign against her. She was labeled a “crony of Zardari Camp”, “a critic of the Supreme Court”, “supporter of NRO” and what not. Her main opponent’s (a non-starter, Ahmed Awais) campaign was run by none other than the largest media house of Pakistan, Jang/The News/Geo. When all was not going in their favor, they even resorted to calling her a “Qadiani”, a derogatory term for Ahmedis. This was the final straw in the rants against her which have been about Anti-Islam, Pro-US and Pro-India
- It was also being alleged that her campaign was being run from the President House and that Babar Awan’s distribution of funds (Nawway Carore Rupay) to various Bar Associations was the reason for her strength.
Let us now discuss each point in detail:
Whether or not Asma Jahangir supports the PPP or is supported by the PPP, one thing is for sure: she doesn’t side with those people against whom we, the supporters of PPP are struggling: Asma Jahangir for sure is known for one thing – outright denouncing of:
- obscurantist forces/elements like military establishment rule of our country. The Asma Jilani v The Government of Punjab case declared that Yahya Khan’s Martial Law was illegal and that he was a usurper of power. The judgment is a landmark against the Doctrine of necessity which is pleaded by our judges when validating various military takeovers
- laws prevalent in the country that at times are not at all providing justice. We have seen laws like Zina Ordinance and Blasphemy Law being used to settle old scores. The reason is not the law itself but the interpretation of the law which is left for incomptent and inconsiderate people to comprehend. Take examples of inheritence matters where Adultery charges against a woman are very common. If you want to get rid of an opponent, it is quite easy to claim that he or she burnt the Quran or said something which was blasphemous especially with reference to Prophet Mohammad PBUH.
- In her fight against the military establishment which thrives on maintaining a strategic nature of deterrence against India, she has remained very vocal. She believes in opening up of borders and normalization of relations between India and Pakistan.
- While she supported the restoration of judges, only herself and Ali Ahmed Kurd openly denounced the judicial activism taking place in the country in the name of “rule of law”. The decision on NRO, involving the judiciary in executive and administration matters like demotion of grade 22 officers back to grade 21, the literal blackmail to get Justice Ramday as an Ad-hoc judge and retaining Justice Khwaja Sharif as CJ at LHC and other matters has been openly or behind closed doors been debated and questioned by a number of reasonable lawyers. It was only Asma Jahangir and Ali Ahmed Kurd who openly questioned the same with Kurd even asking “judges to behave as judges” while Asma calling the decision on NRO similar to one a jirga would announce.
Hence when Asma Jahangir announced her candidature for the President of the SCBA, she had to be stopped at all costs as:
- She was not liked for all the reasons mentioned above and more so she would prove a thorn in the face of using lawyers against the democratic process
- She was to fill in the shoes of a mindless and considered insane Qazi Anwar, whose antics during his adventurous tenure
included numerous attendances in talk shows like Meray Mutabiq and later Views on News of Shahid Masood and many a times as a sideshow to the likes of Ansar Abbasi, Saleh Zaafir and Tariq Butt. Off course with the SCBA President less likely to announce “Dama dam mast qalandars” and “destroying submitted cheques”who would now listen to senseless conspiracy theories on TV channels
- She was unlikely to play an appeasing role towards the media. Her statement upon winning the elections was something our right winged media never wanted to hear. She said “Mayn News aur Jang kee ghalat campaign kay bawajood jeeti hoon aur mayn unn propagandists ko batana chahti hoon, News aur Jang mayn bethayn hayn kay mayn unhayn sahafi nahee samajhti. Hum zard sahafat ko hamesha criticise karayn gay”
Now that I have spent some time explaining why she is such a thorn for the psuedo liberals, couch politicians, and establishment touts, let us come to the point that even though a number of people are commending her on her victory, they are unhappy for being percieved as a winner because of belonging to “Zardari tola” or “because of Babar Awan’s doling out of Nawway Karore Rupay”. Let us now look at certain facts:
- PPP is without an iota of doubt the largest political party of Pakistan. It gets millions of votes not just in elections it forms a government but also when it didn’t form a government in 2002, it polled the highest number of votes in the country.
- The Peoples Lawyers Forum is the legal arm of the party just like PSF being the student’s wing, number of youth organizations, Peoples Labor Bureau representing laborers across the country. According to estimates, PLF has as many as 35,000 members across the country who are practicing in either district, high or supreme courts. How competent they are is a separate matter, but the fact is that lawyers like Latif Khosa, Babar Awan, Farooq Naek, Shahdat Awan, Masood Kausar and many others have been playing their active role in defending party leaders and activists in times of need.
- If the PLF has a large number of members, it is all but natural for it to have a clout and say in bar politics.
- Another myth that “Babar Awan nay Nawway Karore Rupay baantay” is highly misleading. According to the Federal Budget of FY2011, the total amount available to the Ministry of Law and Justice for its entire expenditure is Rs. 640.75 million. For those who want to know this amount in “karores” it is Rs. Sixty Four Crores. Out of that, Rs. 41.97 million are earmarked as “Grants, Subsidies and Loan Write-Offs”. Similarly under the same head, Rs. 35.796 million were earmarked in FY2010. I suggest that those who believe in the Parliamentary form of government request PML-N MNA’s demand the exact breakup of distributions through questions in the parliament.
- Now coming to the distributions to Bar Associations, the kind of places where Babar Awan distributed funds, included places like Arifwala, Gilgit-Baltistan, Phalia, Burewala, Narowal, Sahiwal and so on. Can anyone please tell me, how many SCBA members come from these Bar Associations. The majority of SCBA members are attached to mainstream cities like Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad, Quetta and Peshawar. Even the polling took place in the above five cities as well as Multan and Abbotabad. Now if one tells me that Supreme Court lawyers who are some of the top earners in the country can be bought by a few crores of rupees by the government, then I am sorry to say that these 2000 odd lawyers that make up the SCBA make more money in a year than the total budget of the Law and Justice Ministry.
I personally feel that people shouldn’t act as sour losers. Just like any thing that is not in line with national interests is pointed towards “Amreekee sazish” similarly any catalytic event that happens inside Pakistan shouldn’t be linked to “Sadarti mehal”. We as a nation need to grow up and also stop acting gullible to the slightest of conspiracy theory which is presented by disgruntled and rejected yellow journalists and pseudo-intellectuals of our country.
To the supporters of PPP – this was a key battle. The war is just heating up. Never rest on your laurels as our struggle which Allama Iqbal pointed out in his “Sultan Tipu kee Wasiyat” continues against the very people who just can’t stand the fact that the PPP still exists after all that has been done to it.