By Brig (retd) Farooq Hameed Khan
Those who planned ‘Get Chief Justice’ could have least imagined that the Honorable Chief Justice of Pakistan would turn the tables so swiftly and smoothly that their own leader, then Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani would be consigned to history.
While Bahria Town tycoon, Malik Riaz (MR) was clearly the instrument behind ‘Get CJ’, but who were the real masterminds? Were they the same who also masterminded Memogate, though the Memo Commission some how failed to identify them. Given the repeated humiliation suffered by PPP government in NRO annulment, the RPPs/ NICL/ Haj/ PR/steel mills corruption scams, dual nationality case and PM Gilani’s conviction, the PPP leadership had solid motivation to go for the Chief Justice (CJ).
The semi literate but highly ambitious and shrewd MR could not have mustered the courage to take on CJ without strong support and incitement from Islamabad’s top quarters. Given MR’s closeness and his full access to the Presidency/ PM House, can it be safely believed that ‘Get CJ’ was planned in corridors of power right and left of Supreme Court(SC)?
Did the security establishment have any role ? Efforts were made in certain media quarters to build the perception that the MR move was engineered by Army/ intelligence agencies that were unnerved by CJ’s growing popularity and aggressive posturing related to ‘missing persons’ cases in Balochistan.
Since both the security establishment and SC work towards the common objective of safeguarding national interests in their respective constitutional domain, therefore destabilizing the country’s apex judiciary with which the people had great emotional expectations and hopes, would only add to the prevailing instability in the country. The security setup would have blundered if it sponsored such a plan. Furthermore, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry had over the years emerged as the nation’s savior in his crusade against the forces of corruption which won him country wide admiration including the armed forces.
Many reputed anchors who were privy to Dr. Arsalan related documentary evidence, but had surprisingly kept a lid over the matter, were forced to reveal the same only after the Group Editor of a leading newspaper broke the Dr. Arsalan – Malik Riaz story in a sensational Washington interview, followed by its posting on You Tube . This senior journalist had earlier on also exposed the Memorandum conspiracy against Pakistan’s national security after Mansoor Ijaz’s infamous article in UK’s Financial Times on Oct 10 last year.
Was it a coincidence that ‘Get CJ’ was timed with Memo Commission report reaching the SC and start of proceedings in the Speaker’s ruling case? Who were the actors of the ‘London plan’ that aimed to discredit and embarass CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry during his International Jurist Award ceremony in London on May 28 this year? Was this plan pre-empted by the timely revelations of that senior media man from Washington?
Those who orchestrated this massive MR led onslaught must have been taken aback with CJ/SC’s counter offensive. Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry pulled the rug from under his detractors through prompt suo moto notice of bribery allegations against his son Dr. Arsalan followed by two member SC bench’s instructions to Attorney General to investigate Dr. Arsalan, MR and MR’s son in law.
With contemnor MR being caught on the wrong foot for ridiculing the SC in press conference and the formation of two member judges committee to investigate the planted MR interview, the ‘get CJ’ plan was contained to great extent.
A full court meeting of SC judges is rarely shown live on television screens. The latest one which showed the CJ admonishing PEMRA chief over the ‘fixed’ MR interview on a private television channel also send a powerful message that SC judges were united and any attempt to create a division within the SC would fail.
Was the ‘planted’ MR interview, the electronic media’s 9/11? Has the viewers’ confidence in unbiasedness of television anchors and genuineness of talk shows/interviews been shaken? It may take some time for viewers’ trust to recover from this shock effect that also exposed the PPP factor in the game plan.
The staged interview severely dented the credibility of those anchors whose conduct was a blow to journalistic ethics and morality. It is now time for accountability/ shake up within electronic media by its owners/management. While the anchors bubble has burst, the days of tainted anchors may be over.
Successive civil /military governments in past are culpable for patronizing MR, the petty contractor turned real estate giant who amassed fortunes as his business empire grew exponentially. He assumed the role of an influential power broker, while negotiating behind the scene political deals. Having showered largesse in cash/kind on Pakistan’s elite, whom he proudly claimed to have in his pockets, he even dreamt of becoming the country’s interim Prime Minister or Governor of Punjab. His philanthropy won him the hearts of many but raised eyebrows, too.
MR’s public confession of entering into financial transactions with the CJ’s son ostensibly to win favorable verdicts in ongoing Bahria town cases and his proud claims of using corrupt means to buy out state machinery for every legal/illegal job, surely shocked the nation. But after exploiting Malik Riaz’s scheming skills, will his patrons dump him or come to his rescue as the SC tightens the noose around their( patrons) crony?
Will National Accountability Bureau’s Joint Investigation Team be biased against Dr. Arsalan/CJ’s family and soft on MR? With NAB’s independence highly questionable, will its investigation into Bahria Town’s 62 billion Rs. scam secure the rights of the poor victims? Can MR do a favor to this country by disclosing ‘on the Quran’ details of elitist Pakistanis who benefitted from his generosities?
The Defence Housing Authority should review its real estate ties with Bahria town as these seem to tarnish the Army’s image. In fact retired military officers serving in Bahria town should resign in protest against MR’s scandalization of SC. Safeguarding the image of their parent organization to which they owe their life time allegiance reined supreme over any other consideration .
While retired military officers were within their rights to seek employment in Bahria town projects, but should instead be accommodated in Army Welfare Trust/ Fauji Foundation related projects.
Is ‘Get Chief Justice’ over? The SC rallied round the Chief Justice, who seemed to emerge stronger, though a bit shaken, despite failure of the initial MR led onslaught. The ‘Get CJ’ forces may have retreated temporarily after Gilani’s debacle but are likely to regroup and strike harder at time of their own choosing. July 12, the date of Supreme Court hearing of swiss letter reply by new Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf may determine timing of the next ‘Get CJ’ round.