Natural Justice

Many people ask how and when and who will make Nawaz Sharif fall. I say, have faith in natural justice. Most of our prime ministers have arisen from their beds in the morning not knowing that they would not go to sleep in the prime ministerial bed that night – one went to bed as prime minister and was awoken to be told that he had been deposed.

So sez the wise old man of Karachi in pre-coup 1999. His words are relevant as Pakistan seems to be entering into a similar stage of crisis right now. Of course Natural Justice is simply euphemistic-speak for “army coup” as can be seen by earlier paragraphs in the same op-ed (“Jilani, who died last week, did us a good turn when, as Bhutto’s favourite chief of the ISI, he kept his COAS, General Zia-ul-Haq informed of the destruction planned by Bhutto and gave him enough warning for him to act as he did on July 5 1977”)

Anyway, let’s focus on the phrase natural justice. Natural justice suggests that their exists some politically neutral custodian to administer it. Quite clearly, the Cowasjee of 1999 did believe that this custodian does, in fact, exist. And therein lies the problem you see. The issue is not THE ARMY. The issue is the role of the army as the custodian of the national interest (interestingly in the eyes of groups and individuals with widely differing views on what the national interest is!), prepared to administer natural justice whenever necessary.

[In any case, the irony is that the situation which Cowasjee compares to the outbreak of World War I was of course engineered by the very person he is not so subtly calling on to topple the PML-N government which surely was incidental to Kargil at best! ]

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15 responses to “Natural Justice

  1. takhalus

    Cowasjee wrote some really good stuff about the past in those days..read the one about Fazle Haqs description of Nawaz Sharif.

    DAWN and newsline were really cutting edge in those days, the only paper to haave the inside loop in to what was going on in the Army during Kargil was Ayaz Amirs articles.

  2. Rabia

    takhalus, both Cowasjee and Ayaz Amir were calling for Nawaz Sharif’s head during the Kargil crisis.

  3. Rabia

    here’s Ayaz Amir castigating Nawaz Sharif for not “owning” Kargil:
    http://www.dawn.com/weekly/ayaz/990702.htm

    here he is again, castigating Nawaz Sharif for not being statesmanlike enough to negotiate a less humiliating outcome post-Kargil
    http://www.dawn.com/weekly/ayaz/990709.htm

    here he is praising the kargil fighters as “mujahideen in the way of Allah” and castigating Pakistani society for not subscribing to the same “spirit of jihad” as the brave fighters of Kargil
    http://www.dawn.com/weekly/ayaz/990611.htm

  4. takhalus

    don’t dispute that..he was articulating the Army group think at the time when frankly nobody in the general public had a clue about what was really going on so his insight was invaluable for the rest of us..

    Cowasjees thoughts on pak politicians are well known..still again he gives some useful insights.

  5. Rabia

    that’s true. Poor Nawaz though, I always felt like he got dealt an especially shitty hand in 1998-99.

  6. takhalus

    His ouster was wrong (i say through gritted teeth) but his hubris was incredible towards the end and at the same time he had created a situation a la ZAB in that he was virtually irremovable by any constitutional means. He was only months away from taking control of the senate, had emasculated the Supreme Court and shaken the Army. It is possible that Mush would have left well enough alone once he got his extension, but NS over reached. I can’t seem to find the link ..to a line by Fazle Haq who was a “guest” of the Sharifs while a warrant was out for his arrest in the frontier. Upon his return he commented how Sharif was ZAB’s father in the fascist sense. I suppose that is as much a reflection of the establishments bitterness with a man they invested so much in..only to find out he had his own ideas.

  7. Rabia

    that’s the interesting thing about the current situation. Gillani is also virtually irremovable by constitutional means… except that he has no independent political base so to speak which makes him dependent on either Zardari or Kayani. The interesting thing right now is that Kayani seems really ambitious or he’s really worried about Afghanistan so he’s putting a lot of pressure on the government.

    Of course Zardari is also committing political suicide for some reason only known to him. Maybe we’ll end up with that “minus one” formula after all, with Kayani giving the supreme court the go ahead to use one of the various pending cases? not sure…. It seems like Kayani would theoretically like to keep Zardari on board but he’s just too annoying for him, haha.

  8. Shahid

    I like to use this archive of the Dawn Wire Service since the best op-eds and major news are available by date basis and it becomes easy to see how the liberal newspaper of the day viewed the events:-

    http://www.lib.virginia.edu/area-studies/SouthAsia/SAserials/Dawn/dawn.html

    I have quite a good collection of newspaper scans from the ’60s and ’70s (Urdu newspapers) that I managed to get a hold on while scanning through newspaper archives sitting in the library during an extensive summer break after matriculation. It’s always good to read the time-bound analysis.

  9. Rabia

    Shahid if you start your own blog you should definitely upload the urdu newspaper scans, that would be really interesting.

  10. Shahid

    I’ll dig them up from my store when I go back home during winter.

  11. takhalus

    I have some old Heralds and newslines I’d love to archive in some way.

  12. Rabia

    we should start an online document archive about Pakistan!

  13. takhalus

    would be an idea ..what would we use?

  14. Sorry Rabia, but I disagree strongly, you can’t put Gilani, elected freely and fairly and accountable to parliament, in the same boat as Mr. Ameer-ul-Momineen, Lion of Punjab. What Takhalus says about not being able to remove him from constitutional means is absolutely correct. On the other hand, Gillani can be removed, it’s called elections, whether they’re calling early/snap variety or the scheduled 2013 variety. Can you please elaborate on why you think they are comparable because on the surface, at least to me, it’s night and day — on political/constitutional issues, this PPP govt has done very well whereas that PML(n) govt was basically a full blown authoritarian govt in civilian garb.

  15. Rabia

    by similar situation I just meant that in both cases there is no 58 2(b) or any constitutional loophole to remove the elected prime minister – I completely agree with you that Gilani’s performance is not comparable to Nawaz Sharif’s (yet!)

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