Ifitkhar Chaudhry has a really good friend. Someone that he should be ringing up every day to check on his health and his happiness, taking tea with and watching a bit of sport now and again just to have a laugh. That this person is Iftikhar Chaudhry’s best friend is inarguable, though his identity might surprise you a bit. Let’s see if you can figure it out.
While you’re thinking about it, have you been watching old Mushy in the news? The man will not quit. Speaking from his new house in the UAE, Mushy says that if he returns to Pakistan, he will become democratically elected. He says that his mistake last time was not his terrible policy of double-dealing with militants or sacking the Chief Justice or oppressing the people to ensure his own power. Rather, the only mistake he sees is that he “was a dictator at that time in the eyes of the world”. It is merely a matter of image, not substance that Musharraf believes was his mistake. Nothing a good PR campaign can’t fix.
In fact, if you listen closely you’ll notice that he’s still humming that same old tune that yesterday’s establishment can’t help but dance to – the ISI will “make a strategy of protecting themselves”, “the army is the saviour”, “the army should have a role in the constitution so that it can voice its opinion and influence what happens in the country”, etc etc etc…
Okay, time’s up. Have you figured out the answer to the question? Who is Iftikhar Chaudhry’s best friend? Here, let me give you some hints:
1. Despite the Chief Justice throwing suo moto notices at him like he’s Muttiah Muralidaran out to prove a point, this guy has never retaliated.
2. If it wasn’t for this best friend, Iftikhar Chaudhry would probably still be out of a job.
Have you figured it out now? That’s right! Though you might be surprised, but Asif Ali Zardari is the best friend Iftikhar Chaudhry has got.
Now, shall I explain? Okay, no problem. It’s really quite simple, if you think about it. Pervez Musharraf is not making this PR campaign for no reason. Musharraf is nobody’s fool, and the tune he is singing is not just an old favourite of yesterday’s establishment, there are several journalists and political figures who are trying to bring it back into fashion again. Ahmed Quraishi was asking for a coup until just recently when he softened his tone a little bit and started writing that he wished Pakistan was more like…that’s right – UAE.
Coincidence? Perhaps. But between the right-wing cabal of journalists and Altaf Bhai’s martial law wishes, the Chief Justice should be able to figure out who is his friend and who is his foe. After all, it was Musharraf and the MQM that kept Karachi paralysed to keep Iftikhar Chaudhry from the bench in 2007. He can’t honestly think that the next time would be any different.
The President and the Chief Justice have had their differences. It’s quite clear that they hold each other in some amount of suspicion, and given the opportunity, each would probably love to replace the other with someone a bit more pliable to their own wishes.
But that’s the way democracy is supposed to work. We don’t need a president that prostrates himself to a dictator in a robe, and we don’t need a Chief Justice that simply signs off on any of the president’s demands without proper consideration. Progress may be slow and it may be messy, but its progress – which is something that we didn’t have for a long time.
If Iftikhar Chaudhry tried to over play his hand and remove Zardari from office, he would be opening up a power vacuum that would quickly be filled by these right-wing elements that already threw him off the bench and under arrest once, and would love to do so again in revenge for the lawyer’s movement that cost them so dearly.
If Asif Zardari tried to remove Iftikhar Chaudhry…well, we have already seen that film haven’t we? Zardari may make mistakes, but he has made clear that he is not going to repeat the mistakes of Musharraf – that is a certainty.
And so whether he realizes it or not, the best friend that Iftikhar Chaudhry has in this world is Asif Ali Zardari.