Chief Justice proves hard nut to crack

ISLAMABAD: Long-drawn-out persuasion by the top brass of Pakistan’s elite intelligence agencies and high-ranking officials failed to convince a resolute chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to step down before a presidential reference was filed against him.

He stood like a rock, ready to face the challenge, in the hours-long persuasive sessions. A family source close to the “non-functional” chief justice quoted Justice Chaudhry as saying that during the critical Friday meeting with the president, he was given two options by General Pervez Musharraf — resign or face the reference.

“I opted not to succumb,” the source quoted him as telling the tale of his five-hour stay in the Army House on Friday. After the suspended chief justice told the president that he would never step down, the source revealed that almost 18 officials, including the top brass of the intelligence agencies, kept on swaying him, one after the other, to avail the first option, but he chose the hard one.

He, however, made it clear that he was not mistreated at any stage of the extended sessions. He was also offered lunch. He told his friends and acquaintances, who were able to meet him before the present security cordon around his official residence was clamped by the government, that he had immediately made up his mind that he would not bow out.

The source, who is still in contact with the chief justice and his family because of a not yet tracked communication means, said Justice Chaudhry had also told his sympathisers that the “charge sheet” read by the president was the replica of the much-condemned open letter of a Supreme Court lawyer, who, it is generally believed, was written as a precursor to the reference.

After an almost five-hour stay in the Army House and following his consistent refusal to quit, he was allowed to go. One obvious change he immediately noticed as soon as he came to board his staff car was the missing of the chief justice’s flag from his official limousine. Acting Chief Justice Javed Iqbal took the oath of his office at a time when the chief justice was in the Army House.

When Justice Chaudhry came back, the world had changed for him altogether. Although the government claims that the suspended chief justice is not under house arrest, within hours of his return from the Army House, the top judge’s official residence was cordoned off, the telephone lines were disconnected and even the available mobile phones were taken away. The television cable was working till Saturday morning, but it was also cut off later.

The suspended chief justice was also not provided with newspapers although he was getting the crux of the media coverage on his issue through a lone communication mean that is still breathing. Except those allowed to meet him on Sunday as has happened in selected cases, no one can get in or out.

“It’s a pity that the man who spent all his life in delivering justice to people is now himself in need of justice,” the source said, adding that the suspended chief justice is treated in a manner as if he were involved in some major corruption case. “But Justice Iftikhar’s track record speaks of his financial integrity,” the source said, adding that “Pakistan is not the property of a few in power; this is our country.”

The source said the only hope left is the media that should raise its voice for justice and it is certain that the people of conscience will come forward and do their maximum to stop this injustice.

Courtesy: The News

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