Monday, March 12, 2007

The Pakistanis' White Band Protest

Edit: to make post *sticky* I'm forwarding the date in time.

Last night, I decided to begin a private protest at the suspension of Justice Iftikhar from Office of Chief Justice of Pakistan, by wearing a white band. The idea was shared here, and blogger MB asked the important question:

Why not black [the traditional color of protest armbands], why white?

Why White Bands?
This is why, as shared on Karachi Metblogs:

I am wearing a white band because by God, no one will take my HOPE away from me. White is mourning, white is peace, white is hope, white is optimism (in my own ability - "my" meaning any band wearer), white is my belief that when we keep working at it - tomorrow will be better.

Actually, I have a feeling that it's "begun."

"Technically correct"? Tell that to the people!
The protest is not against the "technical" move. It is to represent a feeling of despair that we feel at the brusque suspension of Justice Iftikhar - with a possibility of his sacking - when he was giving important decisions largely in the favor of the people - the 98% of the Pakistan that is ignored.

Here is an allegory to explain the ground reality:

A boy sneaks into his home late one night after an outing. He father suspects a burglar, and clubs the boy on the head in the dark.

Point: It doesn't matter whether is was the family's son, or a burglar. What matters is what was perceived, based on which a (tragic) action was taken.

It doesn't matter how technically sound the suspension of the Chief Justice is. What matters is that across the country, the decision is viewed with suspicion and received with anger. And why not? When the Chief Justice made several decisions that were not going to sit well with the powers-that-be.

Demands of the White Bands Protest

So. As a common citizen, I protest. The demands of the protest are:

1. Tell us - the people of Pakistan - the truth about the Chief Justice.
2. Take people into confidence; the government must address the nation via TV, radio, print, Internet.
3. Give fair hearing to the Chief Justice.
4. Give credit to the fact he reduced the number of cases in hearing from 36,000 to 10,000.
5. Give credit that he took suo moto action not to have the pleasure of give pains to the lawyers and the police, but to give justice to the common citizen.
6. Give credit to Justice Iftikhar for taking tough decisions on such cases as the privatization of Pakistan Steel Mills, the inquiry in to the Karachi Stock Exchange crash, and report on missing persons, among others.
7. Give credit to Justice Iftikhar for being civil-minded, and caring for such things as: murder of people during basant; rights and respect of women; commercialization of public spaces; prisoner rights; and dubious development projects, among others.
8. Stop taking the people of Pakistan for granted. We are a party - a very large and vocal party - to important decisions taken in Pakistan. Respect our opinions and sentiments. Do not aggrieve us by consistently shocking us with one autocratic decision after another.

Before the decision of the Supreme Judicial Council of Pakistan comes on March 13th, the harm done by the high-handedness of this shock decision must be minimized by taking people into confidence.

We respect the courts of Pakistan. Above that, we respect the people for whom the courts are made.

Photo: I begun protest by wearing a white arm band.
Related link: White bands for Justice

E-mail: nextbyramla AT

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