WHERE IS THE CONSTITUTIONAL WIZARD. DOES HE HAVE AN OPINION OF THE STATE OF THE FEDERATION.
PEEP INTO THE RECENT PAST.
Wednesday, 11 April 2007
Happy with his Faustian bargainSharifuddin Pirzada, the constitutional wizard of Pakistan, is conspicuous by his absence in the current judicial crisis
By Adnan Rehmat
The really powerful in Pakistan love him while the powerless loathe him for his proximity with the powers-that-be. He seems to have been around forever. And if you're a Pakistani, 'forever' is 60 years (of the truncated country's existence). From the majestic Jinnah to Machiavellian Musharraf himself -- Sharifuddin Pirzada has been at the side of giants (genuine or otherwise) and therefore epitomises both influence and survival, features that in congruence are usually associated with gods (or perhaps their deputies such as prophets and sages).
In a country where elected prime ministers, chief ministers and ministers have been hanged, hounded, jailed, exiled or kicked around, there have only been two constants: the army and Pirzada -- all others have come and gone while these two have been around, their power un-waned.
The varieties of masks Pirzada has donned may have been harmless enough -- secretary, foreign minister, attorney general, secretary general, advisor and special assistant -- his task has been in deadly earnest and only one (save for his association with Jinnah): play kingmaker. In another age, he would not have been out of place as the grand vizier, one who ensures that the system always remains suited to the shahanshah.
When Ardeshir Cowasjee calls Pirzada the 'Aaini Jadoogar' it's because he makes constitutional articles disappear when they get in the way of dictators. And as Khalid Hasan says, he breakfasts on constitutional provisions as if they were Fauji Foundation cereals.
Such is the acknowledgement of his wares that one of the charges against Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry in the Naeem Bokhari 'indictment' letter was that the top judge treated Pirzada with respect! The feeling was not mutual, though, as expected. No less than Musharraf has credited Pirzada with starting the blame game against the chief justice. Super clear-headed that he is, he is anything but a showman -- opting to not roll up his sleeves to openly take sides in a bitter and what promises to be a bruising fight. Pirzada can opt the role of executioner against Iftikhar Chaudhry, even if it is a behind-the-scene exercise like all his exercises, because he 'earns' the right by virtue of being the one who got him appointed king of the Supreme Court. Which makes Pirzada the killer of kings -- the power of not just making them but also breaking them. Musharraf surely knows that Pirzada can serve another knight in khaki with equal if not more zest. He has already done it four times so he can do it a fifth time.
Someone who can beat democratic dinosaurs such as Bacha Khan and Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan in the game of survival is surely not a trifling matter. For Ayub, Yayha, Zia (he was attorney general for all three) and Musharraf, Pirzada has been the difference between cantankerous and crackpot dictators and practicing Machiavellian military strongmen. The billion-dollar skill that Pirzada possesses is not that he can charm a majority of high and supreme court judges into ignoring the violation of Article 6 by men in uniform but that he can craft creative convolutions of the constitution that can arm generals with 10-year National Saviourship Scholarships.
Says General K M Arif, General Zia's deputy, in his Khaki Shadows, that General Zia was not sincere about holding elections in even 1988 (the year he died) and had tasked Pirzada with pulling a rabbit out of his hat of tricks. Arif mentions that it was Pirzada who threatened Justice Anwarul Haq with dismissal and got him to grant General Zia the power to amend the constitution -- an unforgivable insertion in the judgement in the Nusrat Bhutto case made just as the un-requested three years given to Musharraf by Supreme Court judges to stay in power. Arif also discloses that Law Secretary Justice S A Nusrat was asked to own the PCO draft written by Pirzada.
Meray aziz hamwatno
'Meray aziz hamwatno' -- how has Pirzada struck fear in the hearts of millions and sunk the hearts of tens of millions more with this innocuous but deadly phrase that he puts in the First National Sermon of the Leader of the Luckless, signalling a long spell of constitutional piracy? One of the comments that Farooq Hasan, counsel representing the challenge to Musharraf's 2002 referendum mocked Pirzada's assertion in the case that granted Musharraf three years (including the power to amend the Constitution) that the army would go back to the barracks in three years thus: "He had given a similar pledge on behalf of the army in the Nusrat Bhutto case during the regime of Gen Ziaul Haq. The 90 days of Sharifuddin Pirzada ended in 11 years and if three years, which he sought for Musharraf, are calculated on the basis of same formula, a century would be required to send the military back to barracks." Perhaps that's the formula of Pirzada's longevity -- the more years in power he helps the army remain, the more he lives and the more chances he gets to do encores.
All kinds welcome
Pirzada's emphasis on principles of longevity to constitutionally illegal military takeovers is so straightforward that religious issues do not compromise it. He has worked with secularist Musharraf and religious Zia with equal devotion. Which is why even Jamaat-e-Islami cites his editorship of books to prove Maulana Maudoodi's pan-Islamism and the fact that he was the first choice of Pakistan's largest madrasa, the Jamia Binoria of Karachi, to fight their case against expulsion of foreign students from the country even though he was serving the secularist Musharraf.
Fiddling with the Founder's faith
And on the 'secular' side, Pirzada draws his mythical halo of pre-eminence from his association with Quaid-e-Azam by serving him on his staff as secretary. However, few know that despite the knowledge that Jinnah was from the Shia faith, he deposed against this. After Jinnah's death, sister Fatima and then prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan jointly filed a petition in the Karachi High Court describing Jinnah as a Shia Khoja Mohammedan and sought that his will may be executed under the Shia inheritance law. Again, when Fatima died in 1967, another sister Shirin Bai claimed her property under the Shia law. But this claim was contested in 1970 by Hussain Ali Ganji Walji in the high court maintaining that both Jinnah and his sister were Sunnis and hence the property be disposed of in accordance with the Sunni inheritance law. Pirzada appeared as a witness in the case deposing that in 1901 Jinnah broke from the Ismaili Shia faith and became a Sunni when his sisters married Sunnis. In December 1976, the court rejected Walji's plea against Bai's claim on Fatima's property under the Shia law, which effectively meant the court had accepted the Jinnah family as Shia. This was not the only paradoxical reference to the Jinnahs. He is on record as having claimed of having proof that Pakistan's first First Lady was murdered and refusing to share it.
Bad Pied Piper
Aitzaz Ahsan when requested in December 2005 to join a committee on constitutional reforms set up by the Supreme Court Bar Association refused because of the co-nomination of Pirzada. He declined with a scathing indictment of Pirzada. With Mr Pirzada on it, it may indeed be termed as the committee on 'Constitutional Deviations', Aitzaz wrote. "We all have our faults. But Senior Advocate Mr Sharifuddin Pirzada stands out as an example of all that a lawyer and jurist must not be....
"I think that we have, for too many decades, been in awe of the 'success ethic' that Mr Pirzada so eminently represents. If a man attains success, a high office or riches, we choose to overlook and condone entirely the means that he may have adopted to attain that success, status or wealth. That is the unfortunate lesson that our children will also learn from us. But enough is enough. It is time now to call a spade a spade..."
The trails of treason
Many have tried but nobody has better described Pirzada than Pirzada himself. On September 6, 1998, columnist Cowasjee quoted Pirzada's own words about himself thus: "Accept me as I am, with warts, blemishes, briefcases and all. If it were not for all the weak and corrupt governments of Pakistan, I would not be where I am today." So there you have it: the man happy with his Faustian bargain even as five generations of Pakistanis have suffered at his hands.
Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada senior advisor to the prime minister & senior advocate, Supreme Court
Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada; Bar-at-Law; Born on 12-6-1923; Graduate in Law from Bombay University, India in 1945; Senior Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan; Ambassador-at-Large; Honorary Secretary to Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah from 1941-44; Secretary, Bombay City Muslim League in 1945-47; Chairman, Publicity Committee of Bombay Provincial Muslim League during General Elections 1945-47; Managing Editor of the Daily Morning Herald, Bombay, 1947; Member of various National and International Commissions and Associations, also led Pakistani Delegation to United Nations in 1960; Chairman, Quaid-e-Azam Biographic Committee; Foreign Minister of Pakistan, 1966-68; Advisor to the Constitution Commission of Pakistan; Attorney General of Pakistan, 1968-71; Chairman, U. N. Human Rights Sub-Committee on Minorities 1977; Member, International Law Commission; Chairman, Experts Committee for drafting the statutes of Islamic International Court of Justice (O.I.C); Federal Minister of Law and Parliamentary Affairs and Attorney General of Pakistan, 1977; Attorney General and Law Minister, 1978-84; Chairman, Company Law Commission (1981); Represented Pakistan in International Tribunal on Runn of Kutch, 1965 and also before International Civil Authority, Montreal in the over flight case; Secretary General O.I.C 1985-88; Ambassador-at-Large; Caretaker Foreign Minister, 1993; Awarded 'Nishan-i-Imtiaz' in 1998; Received High Awards from France, Germany, Jordan, Syria and South Korea; Honorary Senior Advisor to the Chief Executive of Pakistan; Member, National Security Council 1999; Ambassador-at-Large 1999; Judge Ad-hoc, International Court of Justice 2000; Honorary Senior Advisor to the Chief Executive of Pakistan on Foreign Affairs, Law, Justice and Human Rights 2000.