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”.
August 14, 2007