LAHORE (MIAN DAWOOD) - Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said on Saturday that the country has been misled through denying the supremacy of law and breaching the constitution.
The lawyers from Pakistan and India, judges of superior court, high courts and lower judiciary were also present at the moot, organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) at a local hotel.
The constitutional deviations and weak rule of law over a long period of time has resulted in mushroom growth of militancy and terrorism and “the state has to respond and counter these militant organisations while responses, however, have to be within the framework of the constitution,” he said.
The CJP was of the view that if constitution and law were followed in letter and spirit, there would have been no room for terrorism and all the outstanding issues could have been resolved. The country, he said, was facing a situation where peace seemed a distant dream and “we are paying price for sins of the past”.
“It is an unfortunate fact that for a long period of time, we did not treat the constitution with the sanctity it deserves. Nations that value constitution and follow it strictly have been successful in overcoming challenges they faced.”
Scholars agree that “the successive violations of the constitution and deviation from rule of law led us astray and eroded the rule of law in Pakistan”, Justice Chaudhary noted. “Such state of affairs contributed to the atmosphere of violence and lawlessness which has long afflicted us.”
“A cursory look at world history reveals the fact that economic development and law are intrinsically linked,” he said, adding that societies where discretionary powers swayed rule-based governance and where individuals were stronger than institutions, the result was chaos and anarchy where everybody loses in the end.
The leadership should not only be aware of the challenges faced by the people but should have the capacity and inclination to take on these challenges and provide workable solutions, the chief justice said. He said a combination of factors like independent and assertive judiciary, an effective media presence and confident civil society could help in producing good leadership in the country that commanded real respect of people.
“The present superior judiciary in the country is making efforts that the rule of law prevails and corruption is rooted out from the system and that a transparent and rule-based environment is created where investment flourishes.”
“Media is a keen independent observer and it gave the awareness to the people regarding the rule of law,” the CJP said, adding that he believed that in the presence of the media the movement of the rule of law and supremacy of the constitution would succeed despite some concerted efforts on part of status quo-oriented powers to disrupt the flow of history.
He said, “In the last decade, my learned brothers in the Supreme Court and I have had the privilege to give our constitutional jurisprudence a new direction. Law promise is real and if one stands for it, he is richly rewarded and one of the rewards is peace in society, leading to economic growth, flourishing trade, attraction of local and foreign investment etc.”
He said that in the last five years Pakistan’s lawyers stood up for the rule of law in all areas of life, adding that once people began to stand for the rule of law many conflicts which previously seemed impossible to resolve, started to die down and peace was once again in sight.
The CJP said that India and Pakistan were facing the same kind of challenges, and conflict between the two was the main source of terrorism in the region. Lifelong peace between the two neighbours would not be possible without establishing the rule of law, he added.
Chief Justice also stressed the importance of peace among the nations, states and institutions, and said that respecting national and international laws guaranteed peace. All religions of the world including Islam, teach peace and tolerance, he said.
The very first verse of the Holy Quran states that Almighty Allah was the most merciful and benevolent, the CJP said. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was the greatest symbol of peace and historical examples were present where Islamic institutions and leaders solved the national issues through peace, he added.
The CJP said it was unfortunate that the humankind had got fragmented into religious and ethnic divisions without understanding the true spirit of such religious thought and philosophy. The deep-rooted rifts has given rise to terrorism, bloodshed, extra-judicial killings, human rights violations and other evils that were perpetuating extremism and radicalism and effecting global peace.
But he stressed that peaceful methods of settlement of disputes were the preferred option of contemporary religions. “There have been examples where religious leaders and institutions succeeded in bringing peace through mediation and other peaceful alternatives,” he added.
He maintained that the best way to address these issues is through bridging the gaps among individuals and states by common understanding and sharing of knowledge about law, peace and religion and exploring the factors that can help in achieving the objective of global peace, the CJP said.
He said that restoration of peace and harmony through adherence to the rule of law was the increasingly acceptable means for resolving conflicts and terrorism, be it at international or domestic level. “In societies where the rule of law is weak, the law loses it force which leads the masses to violence and transgression,” he added.
He said, “The greatest contribution that the law makes is that it makes peace through pacific settlements possible. Law is an instrument of peace primarily because it creates the possibility of durable and amicable settlements. As a secondary role, the law is also helpful in dealing fairly with those who have already violated society’s peace.”
Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Yaseen Azad said that supremacy of the constitution, the rule of law and strengthening of institutions was important for democracy. “Yesterday, the Supreme Court made a historic decision that institutions which do not have any role under the constitution should not take part in politics,” he added.
Supreme Court of Pakistan judges Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Nasirul Mulk and Justice Tassadaq Hussain Jillani; Sindh High Court Chief Justice Mushir Alam; Indian Supreme Court Bar Association President Pravin H Parekh, Pakistan Bar Council Vice Chairman Akhtar Hussain; and others also spoke on the occasion.