Malik Riaz is supposed to be very well connected, and his relationship to the President has never been really explained, except that now it seems that the allegations against the Chief Justice’s son come at a time very convenient to the President, who would like nothing more than the letters to Switzerland, which the Chief Justice wants written, not written. Malik Riaz has a lot of money, it seems, and we all know where there is honey, there are bees…
But the idea of the son being hauled up in court, and seeing the man who usually tells him to get a haircut or change his shirt, heading a bench which has summoned him, must be rare. Perhaps we can get some inspiration from the Caliph Umar, whose son was famously convicted of being drunk, and whom the Caliph personally whipped, administering the last 20 stripes of the 100-stripe punishment on the dead body of his son because though his son had died, the number of stripes were not finished.
I beg forgiveness if I am wrong, but that example applies even more forcefully because in both cases, the fathers would have been horrified by their sons because of their offices, which they may have felt had been brought into disrepute by the sons. The caliph’s son violated the father’s strict adherence to divine law, but it is worth noting that someone else convicted him. But while the caliph did not interfere in the decision, he substituted for the normal executioner. He did not try to explain his son’s wrongdoing as a conspiracy against democracy or against his family, as we have become used to hearing these days whenever famous sons are charged with involvement in anything, whether it be a Haj scam or an ephedrine scandal.
My sympathies are with the Chief Justice. One might argue that Arsalan Iftikhar might be above the age of maturity, and a qualified doctor to boot, and so, even if he is still living with his parents, Chief Justice Chaudhry has no liability for whatever he has been accused of doing, not unless it is shown that he has exerted any improper influence on his father in anyone’s favour. Indeed, the whole basis of the case is that the favours were done because the Chief Justice was thought reachable by the doer of the favours. That was wrong. In fact, it was always wrong, an impression created because the Supreme Court backed military takeovers. Presumably Malik Riaz is supposed to have thought that, as he has a connection with the military through his real-estate business, he deserves the coup treatment. But that is not the mood of the Supreme Court.
It’s painfully true, that no matter what the Chief Justice does, there will always be those claiming there can’t be any smoke without fire. However, if judgements remain decided only on merit, does anything matter? Probably not, but I’ve seen more than one government servant with a reputation for probity have his last years of service and his retirement turned into a nightmare by a child’s trying to make up for all those years of deprivation, of being forced to get by on a government servant’s pay.
Perhaps an example is the son of the Commissioner Lahore. Though still a schoolboy, he stands accused of murder, the presumption being that he wouldn’t have committed it if he hadn’t been the Commissioner’s son. Even if he gets off, and his father continues to enjoy plum postings, he won’t escape the shadow of the charge for the rest of his life, and nor will his father.
However, perhaps the Commissioner Lahore is not as badly off as the fathers of the newborn girls who were burnt to death in the Services nursery. They had probably just celebrated the birth of their daughters, when they lost them. Somehow, I was reminded of the Quranic verse “When the female (infant) Buried alive, is questioned—For what crimes was she killed?” (Al-Infitar, 81:9-10). I doubt if it is any consolation to any of the fathers that the daughter will not be there to lead him into temptation.
But leave aside the fathers. I leave the reader to imagine how the mothers must be feeling. And the Almighty, who made not just the children, but also their mothers.
But leave aside both mothers and fathers. Imagine how difficult Rehman Malik is finding it to fight the War on Terror singlehanded, now that the Supreme Court is distracting him with questions about his nationality. Didn’t it know that he is above such petty things as nationality, that he is an internationalist?
And imagine how happy was Higher Education Minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman to be presenting the Punjab budget. He is not just the first Finance Minister since Ch Mumtaz Hussain to hold both portfolios, but Ch Mumtaz, who had converted to Islam as a child, also had a minority connection, as did Mujtaba. No, Mujtaba’s father was very much a Muslim, whose Aakhri Chahar Shamba procession predated his Mayorship. But is it a coincidence that Mian Mujtaba’s father was at the end of his Mayorship when Ch Mumtaz assumed the Finance portfolio, back in 1987?