Sunday, December 2, 2007

Interview with Muneer A Malik

The following is an interview with Muneer A Malik, by Hissaan, a student of LUMS. It was taken before he was shifted to Karachi.

1. How are you feeling Sir?

I think I’ve turned the corner. My kidneys have started to function and I’m off dialysis. Tomorrow (28/11/07) I will be discharged from PIMS and will leave for Karachi.

2. I know that you have been asked this question a number of times, but now with the student community and other members of the civil society also joining you, let’s clarify any ambiguities and set the record straight. What are the aims of the lawyers mov’t?

We wanted to bring apart from lawyers other segments of the society like students, doctors, teachers and other professionals together. We looked for the largest common denominator and then decided that there are three aims of this movement and we are clear on this from the beginning. Rule of law, Independence of the judiciary and ‘Cause and Effect’- to elucidate causes and implications for the periodic intervention of army in the politics. Every society has people with different political ideologies. They may be secular, leftist, communists, Taliban and so on. Yet there is another significant segment who would strive for personal gains and try to force themselves into limelight to achieve just that. By sticking to our raison d’ĂȘtre , and the fact that the lawyers movement has no political affiliation, we have been able to bind the legal community together until now. We need other members of civil society who have no political affiliations, like students to be in this movement. We do not want student politics of yore like NSF to muddle our focus. We want institutions like LUMS to come forward, who represent the cream of this society and also have the intellect for a positive input.

3. At this present moment, I would ask what do you think this movement has achieved and what more is in the agenda?

We have managed to make 2 irreversible changes in the country. Number one, we have made the meaning of justice clear. We have shown that judiciary is a not a pawn to be used by the establishment for reaching their nefarious goals, a practice inherited from our colonial masters. With this we have changed minds forever - Minds of both the judiciary and the people. This is reflected by the pro-activity of the judiciary which is unprecedented in the history of the country! It is the first time that a majority of the judiciary has refused to do bow down to the rule of the army boot. We have supported the judiciary in their endeavor to find their rightful place in the state. Now our target is to to make the political parties realize that Pakistan’s fate must be governed by the masses and not from anywhere else. We realize that there is a capitalistic mafia, which would resist our efforts but we are ready to slog on.

4. It has often been claimed that you are politicizing this movement. What do you have to say about that?

The governing clique whether its army or a civilian is a matter of politics and it does concern me. What I am not involved in, is partisan politics.

5. How do you see the 1973 constitution and its effectiveness considering the numerous amendments? Do you think that the revival of judicial activisim would make any difference in improving the situation?

What we have to understand is that the constitution is an organic document. This means that it is open to interpretations at different. For example let’s look at the 14th amendment in the USA constitution. The blacks and whites in the United States drank from different waters, went to different schools, had segregated motels but were considered ‘separate but equal.’

Later it was said that the notion that ‘separate but equal’ is inherently unequal. The problem in Pakistan is that the interpretations have been done by the army and they have used the doctrine of necessity at their whim. In an article I wrote, late Justice Durab Patel was skeptical, that how could few judges stand against military might. But we feel that we have turned a corner and unlike previous judges the present judiciary would be able to interpret the constitution in its spirit. In the Ramday case the doctrine of necessity was buried forever. This is why the government has resorted to extra-constitutional measures.

6. Musharraf has said that elections will be held under the emergency. This means that there is a possibility that the legitimate judiciary might not be restored. How hopeful are you about the rein-station of the judges?

I feel that participating in this charade would be giving a lifeline to this tottering regime. Let me tell you that this is a defining moment for Pakistan. If the legal community remains together, supported by the students and if the political parties can play their cards intelligently, this might be over. There has to be an end to this. How can a brigadier, who replies only in yes sir and no sir, is a vice-chancellor of an educational institute that seeks to find the truth. How can people who refer to non army people as ‘bloody civilians’ rule the very same people? They may use all the tricks like the martial law but it behoves us not to let them succeed. There has to be an end to this and I repeat that this is a defining moment.

7. Lawyers movement is being supported by the student community. LUMS, QA, FAST and other various instiutions have joined the struggle. This might be the revival of moribund student politics. How can this nascent movement become more mainstream and effective?

I believe that this it is the repression of the student unions that has been a source of strength for the student unions. The student unions should not be an extension of the political parties but should be a vanguard of the political parties. They are bright people. They are clean people. They don’t have vested interests. They are selfless. They should be the vanguard of the political parties. Look at Indonesia. Suharto’s regime was toppled by the students. You people have a lot of potential.

Malik Muneer also said that he was proud of the LUMS and the student community. He said that he is grateful for their support and expressed his wish to visit LUMS someday. Interviewed on the 27th of November 2007 by Hissaan Butt

1 comment:

shahid khattak said...

Thinks Hissan Butt, U met the one , who are real hero .
Judges, lawyers,students(who stands against the martial law)have replaced politicians as heroes.
They must understand the situation and must fight for Restoration Of Judiciary, Media and democracy.