Babar Sattar vs. Babar Sattar on transparency

Mar 12th, 2012 | By | Category: The News

Babar SattarIslamabad based lawyer Babar Sattar is a regular columnist on legal issue for The News (Jang Group). As a respected legal mind writing for the nation’s largest media group, he has a special ability to influence public opinion on important issues. Mr Sattar is entitled to his opinons, of course, but we believe it is fair to note when inconsistencies in his pieces suggest that the positions he is projecting may be influenced by something other than facts.

Writing about Asma Jahangir’s critique of the Supreme Court’s interim order in the ‘memogate’ fiasco, Babar Sattar called the Court’s actions “a welcome development” for expanding the scope of fundamental rights.

Why should a matter be consigned to the dustbin merely because it involves national security, the holiest of all cows? Does it not bode well that national security has finally stepped outside the exclusive domain of the khakis? When was the last time that the army chief and the DG ISI (or any serving general for that matter) submitted himself before a court of law in Pakistan? Why should the court be expected to look away when asked to determine whether or not Pakistan’s envoy to a foreign state made an offer that compromises Article 9 and 10 rights of Pakistanis under the constitution? Would it strengthen rule of law in Pakistan if instead of being adjudicated before courts of law in full public view, the ‘troikas’ and such illegitimate centres of power in our polity continue to brawl over and resolve differences related to national security behind closed doors?

In questioning the Court’s actions on the ‘memogate’ case, Babar Sattar suggested, the Supreme Court was being treated unfairly by assumptions that the Court would treat civilians and military officials differently.

The misgivings against the Supreme Court are a product of the premature (and uncharitable) conclusion that the apex court is incapable of doing justice in a matter wherein the army chief and the DG ISI have exhibited personal interest. And these fears have not singularly been nurtured by the court’s actions or orders in the memo case, but by its omissions and indifference vis-à-vis other cases wherein the allegations of abuse of fundamental rights are much more blatant. For example, what would it take to get the Supreme Court to fix for hearing the Asghar Khan case and adjudicate the alleged involvement of the ISI in distributing funds and cobbling together the IJI?

Though he could not have predicted it, Mr Sattar got his wish and the Supreme Court took up the Asghar Khan case earlier this year. So what does Babar Sattar have to say about the importance of transparent investigations and fundamental rights now?

It is thus important that the Asghar Khan case leads to a wider disclosure of facts. Such disclosure need not be public.

Perhaps the Supreme Court is not treating civilians and military officials differently under the law, but it certainly looks like someone is.

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