DEPOSED Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, in his speech on the occasion of administering oath to the office bearers of the Karachi Bar Association on Saturday, listed some of the grievances of the legal community and the general public, that it would be difficult to question. His view that the Western powers' interests had hampered the establishment of the rule of law finds proof in the American and British support of the former regime, which had indulged in wrong-doing, and open opposition to the restoration of the judiciary that wanted to undo its wrongs. Chief Justice Chaudhry, whose arrival in Karachi on May 12, 2007, had sparked brutal riots resulting in the deaths of 50-odd persons, including lawyers, visited the city to an enthusiastic reception and with what he described as mixed feelings, reflecting his sad thoughts at the loss of valuable life. He questioned the commitment to an independent judiciary of those who victimised former Chief Justice of the Sindh High Court, Sabihuddin Ahmed, and his colleagues for initiating a probe into these killings. He wondered why the Prime Minister was not nullifying the acts of November 3 (the promulgation of the State of Emergency and the PCO), reinstating the deposed judiciary and taking action against those who had deposed them, and the perpetrators of the May 12 carnage, if indeed he enjoyed the full powers of his office. Expiating on the virtues of an independent judiciary and the rule of law, he maintained that they were a prerequisite for the survival of the country. While in office, Chief Justice Chaudhry had established a cell specifically to ensure justice to the poor people from the rural areas and resolved thousands of cases, and he felt that he had been victimised for finding holes in the Steel Mills privatisation case and taking up the issue of the missing persons. And in this, his hunch was most likely right. Nevertheless, he assured that the legal community would not hesitate in rendering sacrifices in the noble cause, warning the authorities that if its genuine demands were not met, the people would come out on the streets. It is, indeed, hard to find fault with the above observations. The ball has been in the court of the PPP-led government for so long. The longer it stays, there the trickier it will be to deal with it. It must be acknowledged by the powers that be that an independent judiciary and the rule of law are two of the key pillars of a smoothly functioning democratic order. They are the best guarantee against injustice, and help firm up institutions required to sustain democracy.