‘Judges spring from the same milieu as the rulers’

‘Judges spring from the same milieu as the rulers’, an interview with Tariq Ali by Aoun Abbas for Newsline, October 2007

Q: How significant was Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s decision to fight back?

A: The struggle to insist on the separation of powers between the judiciary and the state, which has been very weak in this country, is very important. Judges have been cajoled, they have been bullied, and they have been fired from 1958 onwards. I remember Justice Kiyani who took a very brave step against the first military dictatorship in this country, going around universities, addressing students, speaking in a very subtle way, but encouraging us to think.

It is a fact that, by and large, judges in our country spring from the same milieu as the other rulers of the country. So that is why the decision of this chief justice to fight back was extremely important.

You know the whole world thinks that Pakistan consists of just military people, corrupt politicians and bearded lunatics. That is the image of Pakistan in the West. This particular struggle to reinstate the chief justice gave a completely different impression of Pakistan.

Q: Can the rise of the judiciary help democracy in Pakistan?

A: This struggle has revived hope in the country, but judges only interpret the law. It’s the politicians who make laws. So the judiciary is structurally limited. read more