Loud message must go to everyone…: Only democracy to prevail in country: CJP

LAHORE: The Chief Justice, Mian Saqib Nisar, said on Saturday a loud and clear message must go to everyone that democracy, and only democracy would prevail in the country now and no step against the Constitution would be acceptable at all.

“Democracy is the basic structure of the Constitution, and based on this structure are the fundamental rights,” added the chief justice while speaking at the Asma Jahangir Conference, organised at a local hotel here. The theme of the moot was ‘Justice for Empowerment’, and it was organised by AGHS Legal Aid Cell. He said Pakistan’s survival lies only in democratic rule and no other system would be allowed to work at any cost. The CJ said, “Democracy is an integral part of the Constitution and it is a protector of basic rights, and there is no question of going against the law.”

Taking pride in the current justice system, the CJ said that now there is no need for anyone to knock so many times to ask for justice. “The doors of justice are open 24/7 and anyone can visit the GPO chowk and submit his/her request. I am here [for the people] 24 hours,” Justice Nisar remarked. The CJ Saqib Nisar was referring to the famous quote of Asma Jahangir: “Justice is a rare commodity in our part of the world… You knock, and you knock, and you knock, and you knock, and you knock, and one day they are going to hear.”

The CJ spoke about his association and experiences with Asma Jahangir. “Physically, she is no more with us. But I can feel her around by the virtue of your presence, the true lovers of Asma Jahangir,” he added. The CJ said the late activist inspired him to take suo motu notices on human rights issues. “Asma Jahangir worked relentlessly for human rights and democracy and because of her, I started taking suo motu notices on human rights violation cases.” The top judge shared that he took his first suo motu notice on suggestion of the late lawyer, calling her elder sister (Appa). “She showed us a way and now it is our responsibility to lessen the miseries of the oppressed people,” he added. “Asma Jahangir was a teacher. She was indomitable and did not flinch in her struggle for the oppressed and the marginalised. “I have learnt the importance and significance of human rights from her. “Asma was the finest human rights activist,” he added.

The chief justice also expressed great reverence for the teachers. Referring to the suo motu notice he took in the case of the former vice chancellor of the Punjab University Lahore, Mujahid Kamran’s arrest, he said the teachers are the most respectable figures of society. Even if they commit a mistake, they should be shown no disrespect.

Asma Jahangir’s daughter Ms Sulema Jahangir was there who stirred the conference by her heart touching remarks about her mother. “Remembering her, aches us as a family,” she said. About her struggles for making justice available to everyone, she said: “We all miss her voice for speaking out for justice, for all the minorities and for women”. A five-minute documentary on Asma Jahangir’s struggle was also screened. In the documentary, Asma was heard saying, “Human rights is not a job; it’s a conviction.” The phrase was greatly admired and repeated by the speakers in their speeches.

The other speakers included IA Rehman, Pir Kaleem Khurshid, president SCBA, Anwarul Haq. president LHBA, Kamran Murtaza, vice chairman Pakistan Bar Council, Advocate Ahsan Bhoon, an activist from India Ms Kamla Bhasin, another activist from Afghanistan, Ms Orzala Nemat, Jean-Francois Cautain, ambassador of EU to Pakistan, and Michael Kirby, former judge High Court Australia. Azam Nazir Tarar, advocate Supreme Court and former vice chairman Pakistan Bar Council, Abid Saqi, advocate Supreme Court, and former president Lahore High Court Bar Association were among the inaugural ceremony moderators.

When Asma Jahangir got silent, the world became silent. Asma was the symbol of resistance. She was the voice of the voiceless; she was the voice of the depressed and destitute people. She stood against dictatorship. She used to stand against any kind of oppression and tyranny, said the speakers. They referred to her as an inspiration for everyone in the world. They termed her death was a great loss. Indian activist and poet Ms Kamla Bhasin said Asma was a crack in every wall which divided the humanity – the walls of religion and gender. “We have to take her legacy forward,” she added. Her sayings were quoted by the speakers. The most repeated quote was “No discrimination, no exceptions, just equal justice for all.” Kamlia Bhasin also recited a poem for her on the occasion.

Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi described Asma as a brave lady and a courageous women. He said those who decide according to their conscience, are actually the courageous people. Unfortunately, our country is facing a collective failure of leadership. No one is there to unite the nation, he added. This failure could be observed in media, judiciary, politicians and in army as well. Asma used to demonstrate bravery and she knew how to work, he said. Abbasi criticised selective accountability, saying it would not work in the country. According to him, we produced only four leaders so far: Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry lauded Asma and said he respected her the most. He said the democracy is not in danger and only the corrupt people are in danger. Pakistan is moving in the positive direction under the vision of Imran Khan. He said the Right to Information (RTI) Act was made in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP), and it is considered one of the best in the world. Now, it would be introduced in the whole of Pakistan. By using the RTI act, people of the country would know about the name of the companies whose steel was used in Orange line train project.

Bushra Gohar, former parliamentarian, said unfortunately politicians have been polluted. But, she said politicians could not be labelled as traitors.