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Will Iftikhar be able to deliver justice?

world Updated: Mar 18, 2009 23:33 IST
Kamal Siddiqi

Mannu Bheel, a peasant from interior Sindh, calls Iftikhar Chaudhry, an “Insaaf Ka Devta.”

Nine members of Bheel's family were abducted in 1998 after he fled from the private jail of a landlord. Bheel went on a hunger strike after his efforts to seek justice failed, with both the police and the courts not willing to go out of the way to challenge the powerful landlord.

In 2007, then Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry took suo-moto notice of Bheel's plight and ordered police to recover the family.

Just as the police were to raid the house of the landlord, Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was removed by President Musharraf. With that all hopes of recovery were dashed.

Now with the restoration of Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, Mannu Bheel hopes that his family will finally be traced.

Bheel is not alone in his quest for justice. There are thousands of Pakistanis who have tied their hope of getting justice on Iftikhar Chaudhry.

Families of missing persons, next-ok kin of those killed, people kidnapped or victimised by powerful mafias, even civil society organizations wanting Karachi buses to work only on CNG — have all welcomed Justice Chaudhry. The question, of course, is whether he will be able to deliver.

Legal experts say that while Chaudhry and five other judges have been restored, a majority of the judges at the Supreme Court are those who sided with General Musharraf. These judges may try and block any move by Justice Chaudhry and his colleagues.

Another roadblock maybe in the form of a non-cooperative government, which is still recovering from the bitter pill it has to swallow of restoring the deposed judges.

Finally, it is unclear what Justice Chaudhry may have agreed to as part of the larger deal to have him restore. Mindful of Justice Chaudhry's desire to open cases that have caused embarassment to the government in the past, there must have been some exchange of committments on what cases to steer clear of, say some legal experts.