You have to stand guard over the development and maintenance of democracy, social justice and the equality of mankind in your own native soil. [Mohammed Ali Jinnah]

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pakistanis Rejoice Over Restoration of Justice ......SABRINA TAVERNISE (NY Times)

We had seen Sabrina Tavernise of New York Times interviewing people outside CJ's official residence, following are a few excerpts from her piece in NYT, for detailed story plz visit the link below.


ISLAMABAD — It was a day of rejoicing, of drum playing, and of smiling at strangers. Pakistan’s chief justice had just been reinstated after a two-year struggle, and for those assembled in the country’s capital to celebrate, anything seemed possible.

In the crowd, whose members included a radio announcer who was researching homosexuality and an illiterate mechanic who wore a flower pot on his head to stay cool and admitted to stealing monkeys to get by, one word was on everybody’s lips.

“Justice,” said Mr. Khan’s wife, Rubina Javed, smiling broadly. “We came for justice.”

The word was apt for the victory at hand: the restoration of the chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, to his court. But others in a jubilant crowd celebrating on Mr. Chaudhry’s lawn on Monday were working from a broader interpretation.

“Justice is the solution to the common man’s problems,” Ms. Javed said, seated on a blue scarf on the grass with two daughters and four sons, ages 6 to 18, around her. “I want justice in schools, on roads, in transportation. Now the common man is speaking.”

In the Arab world, the word is a constant companion. Islamic political movements use it in struggles against autocrats, arguing that justice is a central tenet of Islam.

But in Pakistan, the political class comes from a powerful feudal elite, which has largely avoided policies that would bring greater social equality, like land reform. With only half of the population literate, so far the strategy has worked.

“The ruling elite can get away with anything,” said Muhammad Ali, a software engineer. “They are like kings here.”

But the lawyers’ movement may be starting to change that. Though small in number, it is made up of an educated, diverse cross section of Pakistani society that includes lower middle class professionals, whose reach may extend deeper into Pakistan’s 160 million population than initially expected.

“This movement has given an awareness to the common people in Pakistan of their rights,” said Shamoon Azhar, 26, a doctoral student at the International Islamic University in Islamabad, sitting on the lawn with a large group of his friends. “This is about awareness. It’s given people confidence. It’s shown people it can happen.”

Saif Abbas, a consultant who used to work for the Asian Development Bank in Islamabad, was more clear-eyed about the meaning of the march. Pakistan is still a poor country with a vast illiterate population, and a corrupt, unresponsive ruling class, he said.

His vision for Pakistan is a “thoroughly democratic” country based on an Islamic system of governance, with a strong, powerful middle class, like that in Turkey or Malaysia. The current system will simply perpetuate the power of the mullahs on one hand, he said, and the elite, on the other, “who are totally disconnected from the people of this country.”

In that respect, the march was meaningful.

“The next government is going to fear the people who pushed this one against the wall,” he said, as a troupe of lawyers from a city in central Pakistan, stormed past.

A revolution it is not, he said. “But it’s a good beginning.”

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