Justice Isa case: of errors and consequences

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By Brigadier ® Shaukat Qadir

“Every action has an equal and opposite reaction” is a law of physics. Students of Social Sciences would be aware that a modified version of this law applies to all aspects of life as well. The modification is merely that, in other matters, the reaction may not always be exactly opposite but, reaction there always is and usually within ninety degrees of the opposite direction. The astute general of non-kinetic forces always seeks to divert the reaction as far from being in the exact opposite direction as is possible.

In the checkered history of this country, we seem to create crises of governance and then, far too often, due to the incompetence or indifference of the generals of non-kinetic forces— politicians; resort to kinetic responses to solve them. The inevitable consequence is invariably that the reaction to our response becomes ever closer to being in the exact opposite direction.

As always, Pakistan faces numerous challenges from many directions, many self-created ones. There is the economic state, terrorism and the ongoing hybrid war, Modi and India, the PTM, and then there is the judicial crisis caused by the reference filed against Justice QaziIssa, that seems to be becoming more menacing by the day.

The IED attack targeting the military on June 7 is too close to the failed attack on a military post on May 26 for there not to be a [suspected] connection. If there is one and, if the response is entirely and indiscriminately kinetic, who knows? But, what of the venerable QaziIssa and the reference filed against him in the Supreme Judicial Council?

Details of this case have been carried in the press and editorials too often for repetition here. But we do know that all Bar Councils of Pakistan and Bar Associations seem to be united in opposition to the reference. The fact that they have announced a “Show of Force” by turning up at his appearance before the SJC is a singularly errant way since it violates the very law that they seek to uphold. But then, our lawyers have never before failed in violating the law themselves.

I don’t know him personally but a cousin, whose judgement on matters of law and law practitioners, I have complete faith in, thinks very highly of Issa. And, if all that he says about Issa’s independence of legal views is correct, I would be singularly honored to meet Mr. Issa. From the news I do know that he and the current CJ, Mr. Khosa, number among the only two who challenged the previous CJ, SaquibNisar.

Everybody seems certain that the establishment is behind the move to oust Issa. I find that difficult to accept. But, before explaining why it is unlikely to involve itself in such matters, a few words on the reasoning of those accusing the establishment.

Essentially that Issa has been unusually harsh in his criticism of the role of the establishment in numerous matters, especially its role in the LabbaikYaRusoolallah’s, LYR,Dharna in 2017. Many also argue that the establishment is the only force strong enough to throw down this gauntlet. But, these are only “circumstantial” evidence.

There is no doubt that the establishment is a very strong force in all countries, but that doesn’t make it guilty. No one expressed himself more forcefully in criticism of the manner that the Dharna was handled than I. But, in fairness to the establishment it has, since the elections tamed that LYR into relative insignificance.

Most importantly. No one is more familiar with dissent than the senior military. It is to be heard, logically presented, at each conference. And therefore, if it is as powerful as everybody thinks it is, why should the establishment feel so threatened by notes of dissent, however strongly worded, when the judgments are favorable? And create a storm in a teacup; one that will spill over on their own laps.

Issa poses no threat. He is not seeking to create a movement or a party. Like me, he will continue to dissent and face the consequences proudly. Why then make a martyr of him and be dubbed the bad guys needlessly? Furthermore, there will certainly be serving soldiers who, like me, hold the view that a free and courageous judiciary which seeks to play its actual role i.e. balancing the scales of justice irrespective, including those between justice and political power, is essential to our survival.

Finally, senior military officers are all students of the strategy of war. They are familiar with all concepts of Indirect Warfare. They all know Sun Tzu’s dictum which adjures them to “flow like water along the path of least resistance till you become an inexorable force before which none can stand”. The verse of Allama Iqbal that could be attempting to answer that question

Some might also have heard the rhetorical question asking, “what would happen if an inexorable force met an immovable object?” And some few may also be familiar with Allama Iqbal’s verse that might have intended to answer this very question:

Deher mein aisheda wama ieenkee pabandee se hei, Maujko azadiyan saamaan-shewan ho gayeen.

No, ladies and gentlemen, I don’t think the establishment would risk destabilizing a country already unstable, for a nonexistent threat.

(The writer is a retired brigadier. He is also former vice president and founder of the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI)