If one thing was loud and clear after a hyped All Parties Conference last week, it was, when they want it, they do it. When ‘they’ want it to be done, no one dares bring any political questions or any kind of dissent. All of them at the left or the right or in the center of the political prism deemed it fit to silently say yes on whatever the holy nod came for.

In that room that day were the change-mongers recently descended from the high containers, the custodians of ‘liberal’ values with their chests adorned with umpteen badges of sacrifices, the patriots-turned-anti-establishment zealots, and the all time beloved bearded lot. All of them looked exactly the same while emphatically consenting to solutions as bizarre as the establishment of military courts. As soon as the politicians came out of the ‘yes-room’, there they were with all kinds of ‘reservations’ and ‘dissent’ on military-led justice. Till a few weeks ago, they were all together to ‘save democracy’. On that fateful day, they all forgot about it and let go of the democratic principles in favor of the military even leading the justice system.

So, it’s them. They wanted you all to gather, put your heads down and give the nation a twenty-point plan to rid us of the menace created by, well, ‘them’. What if they had still not awakened? What if they had not shook you out of your slumber? Now that you are awake finally, should we talk business? Now that you are up and stirring, should we expect you to speak out loud and tell the good general that the past could not be brushed away? When he ‘asked’ you to ‘move on’ and ‘bury the past’, did you tell him everything was linked to that dark past he wanted to sweep away? Did you tell him there could be no moving on without smashing the ghosts from that dark past? Did you tell him there could be no cleaning unless the mess is identified? Did you ask him how the mess would be identified if everything linked to that dark past is not shattered?

Can we even dare to remind ‘them’ what those ghosts of the past are? Could anyone of you gather the courage to tell him what that same ‘past’ did to the judiciary? Nothing from this fancy – and well-meaning if you insist – twenty-point National Action Plan would mean anything unless that past is undone. The past needs to be undone that made the judiciary toothless by permanently making it hostage to religion. Not only that the Islamization of the polity and of the legal system produced pygmies in judiciary and the Bars, it ended up nourishing a radical and extremist judicial penchant. The process got unprecedentedly rapid and unstoppable during the past four years of the so-called ‘free judiciary’. Coupled with the crippling of prosecution by the intelligence agencies, through demolishing the evidence-gathering process, it produced the result we all love to cuss today. Steady acquittals of most if not all, terrorists; Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi being the case in point.

Whatever little islands of justice managed to survive in the judiciary, were left to the mercy of terrorists who knew very well what to do in order to mould justice in their favor. Before the judge was sorted, the witness was dealt with befittingly. During the long trial of Malik Ishaq which lasted years, the terrorist from proscribed Lashkar-e-Jhangvi that openly claims the responsibility after killing Shias, around eight witnesses were killed. Another leading figure of the same group, Akram Lahori still operates reportedly from the jail. Any judge, who would ever want to convict them, would have a spine of steel. Or brain of plastic.

Now that the damage has been done to this institution, the entire leadership – civil and military – thought it appropriate to get consensus on dumping the civil judicial system and leaving it to ‘serve’ poor common citizens of this country while the important cases where (mostly) the state is attacked, should be taken to swift and speedy military courts. No matter if the constitution doesn’t allow it. Let’s just amend it. Make small amendments to allow military courts at the expense of the due process of law and the fundamental rights that the existing constitution guarantees its citizens. Big deal?

The military courts are for only two years they would tell you. What they won’t tell you is that the constitutional amendment they are seeking might not go back to the original position any time soon. For the hasty amendment today, there was enough Pindi-side pressure to get all the political forces agree to it. For reversing it, neither Pindi would come nor would any of the friends from the holy deserts or from beyond the Himalayas. The civil society would be left alone to fight for it with their countrywide strength of fifty people.

Let me bother you with some more danglings from the past that the General and the politicians need to remind themselves of. It was somewhere in 2005-6 when Maulvi Abdul Aziz was caught in Islamabad with heavy weapons in his car alongside a man closely related to Osama Bin Laden. He was briefly arrested but no case registered. In 2007 he led treason against the state, had armed conflict with the Armed Forces of Pakistan and killed seven jawaans of the Pakistan Army. Arrested, but acquitted in 2008 for ‘lack of evidence’. Not only was he allowed to return to Lal Masjid’s pulpit, he was given official security as well as another piece of land where a land mafia don of this country voluntarily built a madrassa facility.

After he refused to condemn the horrifying attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar and justified the brutal murder of 142 innocent students and teachers of the school, the civil society of Islamabad stood up against the Mulla. Responding to which, he threatened the state of Pakistan on December 19 to refrain from arresting him or be ready for hundreds of suicide bombers. Despite having un-bailable arrest warrants, Islamabad police are still reluctant to arrest him. He blatantly tells the media, ‘If anyone dares, they should try to arrest me.’

Back in 2007 when I was closely working with a Federal Ministry, Gen Musharraf was the country’s powerful and unchallenged in-charge, I asked an influential member of the federal cabinet why no action was being taken against the Mulla despite his repeated and blatant overreach, his answer reeked of height of cowardice and hypocrisy. “This man can beat the hell out of all of us including the military. He will bring out millions of madrassa students and we won’t be able to do anything except cow down before him, which will bring further shame,” he had said.

I could not get hold of any Cabinet member today to ask why this man was still free, but I somehow know that the answer would not be much different. If it is different, we have nothing to conclude that the state has finally made up its mind to curb all militants and their abettors.

How difficult is it to refer the case to military courts? Or better, how difficult it is for ‘them’ to get consensus on it from the group of political mules? If they can be made to say yes to military courts, an equally emphatic yes could be had for the end of Mulla Aziz too.

The writer is an Islamabad based freelance columnist. She can be contacted at marvisirmed@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter