Pakistan’s manipulative executive, legislature and judiciary have been oppressive due to which the country is possessed by an explosive silence. Unless that silence is gone completely the status quo will remain.
Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto gave a voice to the poorest Pakistani. Then the manipulative State and its judiciary, puppets in the hands of Zia-ul-Haq, sent him to the gallows. Pakistan remained choked throughout Zia-ul-Haq’s 11 years of despotic rule. Nevertheless, the judicial murder had laid the ground for the eventual detonation of Pakistan’s explosive silence.
The second occasion on which Pakistan’s explosive silence came close to exploding was in April 1986, when Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto returned from exile. It had looked like Pakistan’s explosive silence had finally detonated and the Pakistani Dream was around the corner. But some individuals manipulating the State apparatus through the nineties did not let that happen.
On March 9, 2007, was the third occasion on which someone came around to detonate the explosive silence. Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry looked straight into the eyes of COAS General Musharraf, and said “I am not going to resign.” That video clip ignited Pakistan’s explosive silence. If one salutes the lawyers’ community a hundred times a day it will not be enough.
Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s return to Karachi on Oct 18, 2007, was the fourth occasion on which Pakistan’s explosive silence attempted to explode but, instead, devastating bomb blasts killed 180 people in her close proximity. The assassins’ attempt in Rawalpindi succeeded and Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was martyred.
Despite the Feb 18, 2008, elections and Musharraf’s disgraceful exit the Black Coat lawyers’ movement went on unabated. Many wondered how long can the lawyers go on with their Movement? Those who thought that it will fade away ignored the fact that movements based on convictions and revolving around the civil society can never be defeated.
The Black Coat army marched on empty stomachs for two years and became household heroes for their sturdy and determined stand for the restoration of the judiciary. The brave lawyers of Pakistan became the motivating factor for the political parties, the civil society, the professions, the intellectuals and the trade unions, etc., to stand for justice. For every Pakistani the lawyers’ movement became the vessel for change and justice. If it had not been for the heroic lawyers, Musharraf would still have been in power, judiciary or no judiciary, and there would not have been a single dissenting sound from anyone.
A friendly detonation of Pakistan’s explosive silence was heard in June 2008, when the lawyers’ movement held its first carnival long march to try and convince the-then new government and Parliament that they shall have to restore the Nov 2, 2007, judiciary. That friendly detonation ought to have been heard, but it was not and the judicial crisis lingered on till March 15, 2009. On that day while the long-marchers halted menacingly at Gujranwala alarm bells rang in Islamabad and the government, eventually, gave in to the emerging adverse political realities and decided to agree to the restoration of the judiciary to its Nov 2, 2007, position. Pakistan’s explosive silence had made its biggest bang, thus far, and it has drawn Pakistan closer to the evasive Pakistani Dream.
Mian Nawaz Sharif and his PML-N joining the heroic lawyers’ movement and the long march gave the movement the winning edge. An opposition political force blended its voice with that of the people of Pakistan and detonated the nation’s explosive silence in a manner never seen before. Pakistan’s explosive silence has finally detonated and it cannot be capped again; a fact that the present and future rulers of Pakistan must always keep in mind.
In the end, it was extremely graceful and statesmanlike of President Asif Ali Zardari to have agreed to restore the judiciary to its Nov 2, 2007, position. Pakistanis must also acknowledge the sincere efforts of the Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani and that of the Army chief, Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani who, together, helped resolve the crisis when every minute was taking Pakistan towards a political catastrophe. Mian Nawaz Sharif also deserves to be acknowledged for calling off the long march as soon as the judiciary was restored. On the morning of March 16, 2009, Mian Nawaz Sharif knew that the dice was heavily loaded in his favour; yet, he called off the long march and did not pursue the other contentious issues. Pakistan had come of age and was the only true winner on March 15/16, 2009.