Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s emphatic reiteration that the door for military takeover in the country has been closed forever is reassuring for those who have voiced fears that the current democratic government, for all its failures and shortcomings, might be relieved by another stint of military dictatorship. Justice Chaudhry stressed the imperatives of the rule of law and democratic system for a kind of governance that worked for the benefit of the people at large. Speaking at separate functions organised by the Sheikhupura and Sargodha Bar Associations on the occasion of the anniversary of the imposition of emergency and PCO on November 3, 2007, that led to the ouster of President Musharraf, he praised the lawyers’ movement for its unflinching resolve to have the deposed judiciary restored for the sake of the rule of law. Enjoying the full support of the various sections of society,  media, civil society and people from all sections of society, the movement was unique, and as a result lays claim to having finally buried the doctrine of necessity.

The higher judiciary’s remarks, no doubt encouraging, promise a future in which no unconstitutional measure will find support with the judiciary. Security, prices of goods across-the-board, jobs, power supply – these and a lot more of the necessities of life have been hit out of all proportion during the past more than four years and a half and the proverbial short memories of many, recall with fondness the “good old days”, ignoring the the rigours of the dictatorial rule and its long-term adverse impact. Besides, the unstable situation in certain parts of the country and the current geopolitical context hark back to the painful days of 1971.

The Chief Justice recalled that the dictators had violated the laws and subverted the constitution and, therefore, the judiciary would never again fall victim to expediency and along with Parliament never support martial law. At present, all eyes are set on the coming general elections with the hope that the successful candidates they throw up would sincerely and dedicatedly address the people’s nagging worries as a top priority, revive the perpetually sagging economy and put the integrity and solidarity of the state on a sound footing. What all are sure of is that the military’s job is defence, not governance. None claiming to subvert the constitution and laws of the country in the name of national interest will find a sympathetic audience. It is encouraging to see the Chief Justice himself, indicate he is of the same view, in his speeches yesterday. Bravo.