RAWALPINDI: Deposed chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said he refused to be dictated to by former president Pervez Musharraf, which led to the ambush of the judiciary and subsequent imposition of the November 3 ‘martial law.’
Addressing a mammoth lawyers’ convention at the District Bar Rawalpindi on the occasion of ‘black day; he described the November 3, 2007, emergency rule as virtual martial law. “The difference between this and previous marital laws is that no assembly has endorsed it so far,” he said, hoping the incumbent assembly would never approve it.
About the February 18 polls, he said former president Musharraf had no role in these elections. “These elections were to take place at all cost on completion of five years of assemblies.
“I am the custodian of several things, but, I, being the chief justice, cannot make public these things. But I will reveal some non-classified facts,” he said.
He alleged then rulers used all tactics to stop announcement of a ruling against privatisation of Steel Mills but the Supreme Court gave its verdict in line with law and the constitution. “Following this decision, Shaukat Aziz sent a message to me that Pervez Musharraf was displeased with this verdict. I told him that all the judges including me had sworn to uphold the constitution. This is the Supreme Court and it makes decisions as per the constitution. It will give no decision to please the rulers. Therefore, an 11-member bench has not given any wrong decision and it should be conveyed to Musharraf that he should not feel offended over it,” Iftikhar Chaudhry said.
“Shaukat Aziz conveyed this message to Musharraf. What followed later is known to everybody,” he added.
Expressing gratitude to the media for highlighting the court’s verdict in a better way, he said the whole nation was aware of the game that was played against him at the Army House on March 9, 2007. “Later another ruling was given against the government. This dashed all hopes on the part of the government that the judiciary would side with it,” Iftikhar said.
“Later messages were sent to me through my friends that I should respect old relations and what had happened should be forgotten. But I maintained that although judges were men of flesh, they always took decisions independently,” he remarked. “I don’t have special relations with anyone. I am a judge and I have taken oath. Even If I have to rule against my son, I will abide by law,” he said.
The most crucial cases including the exile of political leadership, the dual offices case against Pervez Musharraf and the president in uniform were pending with the Supreme Court, he said
“The third important case pertained to holding of dual offices of president and army chief by Pervez Musharraf, a petition which was dismissed by the incumbent CJ Abdul Hameed Dogar and six other judges. This was publicized in the media for personal interests. He said that he did not head any of the benches formed to review both these cases against Musharraf due to prudent and professional ethical reasons on his part.
Rumors were spread in the last week of October 2007 through different sources that emergency or martial law was going to be clamped in the country,” he said.
“I was again contacted on November. 1 was told that the matter was in my hands and if I wanted I could decide it in Pervez Musharraf’s favour since this decision was very vital to the country. If I cannot do so then I should dissolve the bench or persuade the judges for a favorable decision. But I said its was not a military regime. It was the Supreme Court where judges give decisions independently and no one interferes,” he said.
“Then another message was given that the situation was worse than October, 12, 1999, and that I could save my post as chief justice. There were only two options left before me, either to bargain at the expense of the whole nation to save my office or sacrifice my post for the sake of justice. This decision also invited the president’s displeasure and he mentioned it in his speech later. But I refused to dissolve the bench or make any interference in it,” he said.
“In the morning well-placed sources told me that martial law would be imposed and Abdul Hameed Dogar was going to take oath as chief justice of Pakistan. Those who provided this information were my well wishers. They are still standing by me,” Iftikhar said.