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Azadi ki Zabaan


If  “Azadi” was a product , marketed by the TV channels, repeating a very moving line, sung by a great singer, with deep husky voice and  touching expressions, by now we would have had almost as much ‘azadi’ as the number of  mobile phones in our country. Perhaps we forget  that  this product is  not  up for sale in the stock exchange, and the rules of ‘azadi’  are not the same as those of the market.


Nations do not have to be 500 years old to get some sense into their system.  Sixty years is a long time to shed the uneasy anxiety and uncertainty  that with each passing day, gets alarmingly  bolder  on every Pakistani face.   Our lines of identity stand muddled.  Are  we  a parliamentary or presidential  democracy,  a hardcore military dictatorship,  a theological state,  a bunch of  unruly militant tribes or  a proxy nation which has no agenda of its own?  What  newspaper headlines  are we likely to see  on the 14th  of August?  Will we suffer more suicide attacks,   imposition of  yet another emergency,  beg other nations for yet more loans,   sell off our finest land  and beaches to foreign developers,  or insist  on  eternally prolonging an illegal military rule?


Pakistan needs to understand that  ‘azadi’  is not  for  beggars.   ‘Azadi’ is for people who can think and act on their own.   The US$ 350 million ‘access to justice’ loan  brought  not a single Pakistani  even an inch  nearer to  justice.  But  the  CJs six hours in  the Army House  bridged this gap by sixty years.  This is not  merely a symbolic example.  It is the only way to acquire ‘azadi’.   So while Faiz’s “ abhi chiragh e sar-e rah ko kuch khabar hi nahin,     abhi girani e shab mein kami nahi aai”,  continues to remain just as valid on our 60th birthday,  we may have a reason to look forward at the distant light of hope  ignited by the success at the Supreme Court.  More than many others the CJ knows how corrupt and incompetent are the courts in Pakistan.  Will he set up a strong institutional mechanism to  purge all other courts of this burden, for not  every citizen can make it to the Supreme Court.    Will the  Election Commission declare the President as an unsuitable and illegal candidate  on the very first day he submits his documents for Presidential election?  Will the CJ  prohibit the state from seeking foreign loans unless they are approved by a two third majority of the Parliament?  And finally will the CJ  please remember  to ask the court registrar to look for  a lost file, that  arrived in his office some two years ago, under the title  “Mukhtaran Mai vs. (presumably) the rest of Pakistan”.


Naeem Sadiq

August 14, 2007