Justice Markandey Katju: Terrible times are coming to Pakistan

Justice Markandey Katju

By Justice Markandey Katju–

(Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own)

It was announced on Thursday, November 2 that parliamentary elections in Pakistan will be held on February 8, 2024.

The eminent Pakistani journalist Moeed Pirzada has described the development as a ‘scripted drama ‘. Another senior Pakistani journalist Sohrab Barkat of siasat.pk was even more critical.

Strictly speaking, elections should have been held in early November 2023 as mandated by Article 224(4) of Pakistan’s Constitution, but we need not go into that. The Pakistan Constitution is more followed in its breach, and is often consigned to the dustbin. All opinion polls indicate that former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party enjoys support of about 90% Pakistanis, and will sweep the polls if there are free and fair elections.

However, the Pakistan army, the real ruler of Pakistan, is determined that Imran Khan, who is in jail since early August (having been convicted by a corrupt judge Humayun Dilawar in a blatantly unfair trial, and facing close to 180 criminal cases foisted on him on trumped-up charges) should never come back to power again.

In this situation, four eventualities can be foreseen:

  1. Imran Khan dies in jail, by poisoning (as he suspects) or is ‘suicided’
  2. Elections are not held on February 8, 2024
  3. There is heavy rigging in the elections
  4. A court in Pakistan declares the PTI an illegal organization, and thus and ineligible to participate in the polls.

The first three outcomes seem unlikely.

In the first, if Imran Khan dies in jail there will be a huge outcry, not only in Pakistan, but all over the world. As regards the second, any postponement of elections, which should constitutionally have been held in November 2023, will just not be acceptable or tolerated. In the third case, large scale rigging may not be possible since there will certainly be international and national observers and media monitoring of the process.

But the last one will not be difficult. The Pakistan judiciary has proved itself loyal to the Pakistan Establishment (meaning, the army) ever since the then Chief Justice of Pakistan Munir propounded the devious ‘doctrine of necessity’ in 1954 to validate army coups.

Subsequently, the Pakistan Supreme Court in 1979 upheld former Prime Minister Bhutto’s death sentence, evidently on orders of Gen Zia-ul-Haq, thereby showing it to be more loyal than the king, and is even willing to commit judicial murder if so ordered by the army.

The recent behavior of the Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court Aamer Farook in passing orders at breakneck speed in favor of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whom the army wants installed as the next PM, also reveals the judiciary’s true colours.

Nawaz Sharif had been convicted and sentenced to 10 years jail by a Pakistan Court in 2018 for huge corruption, but later fled to London, ostensibly for medical treatment, though he was doing politics there.

Now he has returned to Pakistan with great fanfare, and already treated by the army, and all authorities (evidently on the army’s  instructions), as the next anointed PM. By installing Nawaz Sharif as the next PM the generals are feeling very pleased with themselves. They little know what is in store for them, for other army officers, and for their families.

The people of Pakistan are seething with rage due to the reign of terror unleashed against them. About 10,000 have been arrested, tortured, jailed on trumped up charges after the events of May 9 (which many believe were scripted and stage managed), and some even ‘disappeared’.

The people seem silent, cowed down by the fear stalking the land. But they are in their hearts vengeful and full of anger, and that anger will burst into action in the not too distant future.

I do not wish to sound alarmist, but this speech of Mark Antony in Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’ can give an idea of the times coming in Pakistan:
“A curse shall light upon the limbs of men;
Domestic fury and fierce civil strife shall cumber all the parts of Italy;
Blood and destruction shall be so in use and dreadful objects so familiar;
That mothers shall but smile when they behold their infants quarter’d with the hands of war;
All pity choked with custom of fell deeds: And Caesar’s spirit, ranging for revenge, with Ate by his side come hot from hell, Shall in these confines with a monarch’s voice Cry “Havoc!” and let slip the dogs of war;
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth with carrion men, groaning for burial.”
~ Julius Caesar: Act 3 Scene 1

I do not wish to frighten anyone, but it is time someone told the Pakistani generals the truth: terrible times are coming to Pakistan, and it is entirely due to the misdeeds of the Pakistan army.

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