Dr. Farid A. Malik |
My late father was a habitual litigant. When I took over from where he had left in September 1991, there were twenty court cases pending. He believed in a black and white world. A compromise was unknown to him. He believed in an honest and upright existence for which he was willing to fight. Being a worker of the Pakistan Movement, first as a member of Muslim Students Federation and later an office-bearer of the All India Muslim League, he was a true fighter. He was awarded the Tehrik-e-Pakistan Gold Medal in recognition of his struggle on August 14, 1990. For him, ‘Sharafat’ was a strength – not a weakness.
I had the first formal meeting with his lawyer in late September 1991. Mian Nisar Ahmed, Advocate and a former Judge of the Lahore High Court (LHC), was perhaps the ablest legal mind of the country, in league with the likes of Manzur Qadir and Mahmood Ali Kasuri. Mian Sahib in a few minutes cleared my perception of the legal process. According to him, courts do not dispense justice, at best, they provide leverage for a settlement. He disagreed with my father’s approach of victory and defeat. I surrendered to his approach and we were able to wrap up the long-standing legal battles of my father.
When I heard the Panama Case decision I was reminded of Mian Nisar’s words. There was neither victory nor defeat. For an honest and honorable Prime Minister (PM), it was a knockout while in the absence of which it was a great relief.
Barrister Manzur Qadir had a very privileged background as compared to Mian Nisar Ahmed. He was the son of Sir Abdul Qadir a Barrister and a leading intellectual of his times. Manzur Qadir was very uncomfortable as a judge and preferred his legal practice over sitting on the bench as Chief Justice. Mian Sahib was a self-made individual. Grew up in Anarkali and established his chamber nearby at Bhatti Gate. When I met him he had moved his office on Mozang Road close to Ganga Ram Hospital. As he had moved up the ranks he understood the nuts and bolts of our legal system and worked for the best outcome for his clients, like Manzur Qadir he too was not very comfortable as a judge and returned to his legal practice.
Panama Case decision
Common law has failed miserably to punish white collar crimes. It relies on irrefutable evidence to protect the innocent.
When I heard the Panama Case decision I was reminded of Mian Nisar’s words. There was neither victory nor defeat. For an honest and honorable Prime Minister (PM), it was a knockout while in the absence of which it was a great relief. The PM continues in office for another sixty days. Their strategy is to gain time, not credibility that is what PML-N is celebrating, their continuity in office.
Common law has failed miserably to punish white collar crimes. It relies on irrefutable evidence to protect the innocent. The benefit of doubt favors the criminal in case of white collar infringements and they get away. Justice Asif Khosa’s mention of the novel ‘The Godfather’ is very apt, “Behind every great fortune there is a crime”. We need more judges like him. When we debated together or against each other at Government College, I could never imagine the heights he would reach in his profession. It is because of individuals like him that hope is kept alive.
In the original 1973 constitution, the PM was allowed only two terms for a total period of ten years.
PML-N is no ordinary political party. It is a politico-corporate empire that has the capacity to fight and swing verdicts. Even when they are convicted as in Asghar Khan’s case the decision has not been implemented. The attack on the Supreme Court stands out as the darkest day for rule of law and democracy. Unfortunately, the country and its collapsed institutions lack the capacity to contain such a lethal empire. The question is how will we get rid of them?
In an environment of ‘do-numbry’ (roguery) ethics and morality have no role. Imran Khan, Asif Zardari, Chaudhry Shujaat and Siraj-ul-Haq have demanded the resignation of the PM on moral grounds. Such a premise is unknown to the party or its leadership which blatantly claims that everyone that matters in the country is dishonest in other words according to them the high moral grounds does not exist in the political arena of the country.
Major electoral reforms are needed. Free and fair elections may not be possible but a neutral ballot can be delivered. All opposition parties should agree on some basics.
With most national institutions either in disarray or impotent by design, only the people of Pakistan can make a difference. Imran Khan’s meeting with the Army Chief carries some significance, as a neutral ballot conducted by the Khakis is the only way forward. Let there be no illusions, PML-N will win hands down due to its roguery and manipulative mechanisms which have to be checked and neutralized.
What should be done to improve this system?
Major electoral reforms are needed. Free and fair elections may not be possible but a neutral ballot can be delivered. All opposition parties should agree on some basics. In the original 1973 constitution, the PM was allowed only two terms for a total period of ten years. Later amendments should be withdrawn and Mian Nawaz Sharif should be disqualified from contesting the next elections. Biometric verification of voters will indeed help.
Those who seek justice through the courts, die without it. My father left twenty court cases undecided despite the warnings of his lawyer the brilliant Mian Nisar of Bhatti Gate. A few months before his death, he personally appeared before the Chief Justice LHC and requested early disposal of his cases. The Chief ordered short hearings of his main case. Indeed, he got short dates, but due to cases’ overload, his case was never heard. Mian Nisar used to call his clients ‘Balli’ and always sought expeditious resolution of their litigation. With his approach, the case was decided on the very first hearing that I attended but it was a compromise. To get possession of the property we had to agree on one year’s extension, both parties agreed in the presence of the judge.
When we came out Mian Nisar said ‘Balli’, your father would not have agreed to this compromise. We would have won the case but with their appeal, in the Supreme Court, your son would have to fight it out. I tend to agree with Asif Ali Zardari who has been through the legal grind that Mian Nawaz Sharif will never resign; he has to be knocked out through a democratic struggle. Musharraf was made to leave but not without an honor guard and a chariot ride, perhaps Nawaz Sharif desires the same, an honorable exit with a swan song. Let the music start.
Dr. Farid Malik is a prominent technical and management expert in mining, materials, engineering and high-tech industry; he is a regular columnist for The Nation and Pakistan Today.He is ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation. This article was first published in Pakistan Today and is republished with the permission of the author. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.