A PPP message, meant for the deposed chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, to persuade him to resign in the “national interest” or to get ready for conditional reinstatement, has bounced back without even reaching the honourable judge. Sources said that on the desire of PPP Co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari some leading lawyers, who are close to the deposed CJ, were approached to soften Justice Iftikhar but the effort failed as not even a single messenger dared to take up the issue with the deposed chief justice.
Athar Minallah, senior lawyer and the spokesman for the deposed chief justice, was also one of those contacted by the PPP either to seek resignation from Justice Chaudhry or make him ready for some conditions attached to his restoration. Athar, instead of conveying the ruling party’s message to the chief justice, cautioned the letter bearer.
Athar when contacted admitted that he was approached by the PPP, adding that he never communicated the PPP message to the deposed chief justice but rather snubbed the person who had approached him for the same reason.
A source, who has family relations with Justice Iftikhar, also got it confirmed from the deposed chief justice that no one had talked of the conditions. The source said that perhaps those who know Justice Iftikhar would think many times before making any such offer to him. Athar said that he was asked by the PPP representative that it would be in the best national interest if Justice Iftikhar resigned.
“I was told to convince Justice Iftikhar to quit,” the lawyer leader said, adding that another option presented was the conditional restoration of the respected judge. “I told them clearly forget that the chief justice would resign or would agree to any condition for his reinstatement,” he said.
Justice Iftikhar, he said, has become a symbol for the independence of judiciary and the rule of law in the country.
Athar said that he advised the PPP leader, who had approached him, to clear their minds of false impressions about the chief justice. “Justice Iftikhar cannot be tamed or serve like a slave,” Athar said, adding the whole judicial movement was not meant to give this nation a tamed chief justice but a really independent one.
Athar said that acceding to any condition for the reinstatement would mean compromising the real goal of independence of judiciary, which was neither acceptable to Justice Iftikhar nor to the lawyers fraternity. Athar said those interested to get back Justice Iftikhar as a tamed chief justice were badly mistaken. “There is no question of any compromised restoration of the deposed judges,” Athar said.
According to a PPP source, Asif Ali Zardari also expected from Aitzaz Ahsan to convince Justice Iftikhar to resign but Aitzaz Ahsan did not oblige his party’s co-chairperson.
Since March 9, 2007 repeated efforts were made by the cronies of ousted dictator General (retd) Musharraf to get a resignation from Justice Chaudhry. On March 9, those pressurised him to resign included five Army generals but he said he would not. Later, more efforts were made to convince Justice Iftikhar both through coercion and temptation but the honourable judge never wavered and stood like a rock. Even now when the whole of Pakistan is disappointed over the repeated summersaults of the PPP top leadership on the judges issue, Justice Iftikhar is said to be in high morale and pretty optimistic that the ongoing struggle would bear fruits.