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Judged & Found Wanting PAGE 4 THEWORLDTODAY.ORG FEBRUARY 2008 When former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s son Bilawal became the leader of her Pakistan People’s Party, following her assassination, he told the crowds that ‘My mother always said democracy is the best revenge’. Yet, despite the fact parliamentary elections are now scheduled for February 18, Amnesty International sensed a general mood of hopelessness during a recent visit to the country. ‘Pakistan is lost’ was a refrain heard in many places. | INDEPENDENT THINKING ON INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS PAKISTAN AND THE RULE OF LAW IRENE KHAN SECRETARY GENERAL, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL p EOPLE FEEL DEJECTED ABOUT THE CURRENT political landscape. On the one hand, even Benazir Bhutto’s die-hard critics, including those in the human rights community, came to see her as the country’s best chance for positive change. True, they recognise her many flaws, including an unimpressive human rights record during her previous terms in of±ce, but believed she was older and wiser and things would have been different. On the other hand, there is a fear that the government will resort to harassment, intimidation and vote-rigging to remain in power. Not that ±xing election results is anything new in Pakistan. But this time around, any aggrieved parties will be able to do little about it, given that elections are supervised by judicial of±cers accountable to the Election Commission – ‘in cahoots with the executive’ – and ultimately to the superior judiciary hand-picked by General Pervez Musharraf. Even if the elections are free and fair, people believe that there is not much a new parliament can do as long as the independent judiciary is not restored, the changes Musharraf made to the constitution are not reversed, and the west ‘continues to meddle’. CLEAR PATH Although the present situation is grim, there is a clear path out of it – if only the Pakistani establishment displayed the will and courage to do what is right for the country rather than think only of its narrow interests and permanence in power. Almost a year ago, there were signs that some were indeed moving in that direction. Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry departed from the Pakistani tradition of judicial compliance with the executive and challenged the government on several issues, including enforced disappearances linked to the ‘war’ on terror. When Musharraf suspended the Chief Justice – in breach of the United Nations Principles for the Independence of the Judiciary – thousands of people, led by judges and senior lawyers, went onto the streets in protest. The Supreme Court ruled in favour of his reinstatement and Musharraf had to back down.
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2012 for the course POLS 494 taught by Professor Garymoncrief during the Fall '11 term at Boise State.

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