“In a democracy the people are supreme, and can criticize all government agencies, which are only servants of the people”

Hamid Mir: Fighting on. AFP photo: Aamir Qureshi

Hamid Mir: Fighting on. AFP photo: Aamir Qureshi

Retired judge of the Supreme Court of India, Justice Markandey Katju, Chairman Press Council of India, emailed the following statement about the attack on Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir:

May 23, 2014: I strongly condemn the attack in Karachi on Hamid Mir, the well known Pakistani journalist, who sustained six bullet injuries in the attack. This is a direct attack on media freedom, whether it was by the Taliban or ISI or anyone else.

Though I have differed with some of the views of Mr. Hamid Mir, I believe, like Voltaire, that he has the democratic right to express his views.

It is shameful that a section of the Pakistan media has condemned Hamid Mir for his criticism of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency of Pakistan. But why can an intelligence agency not be criticized in a democracy? In India the Central Bureau of Intelligence (CBI) has often been criticized. Those who say that the ISI or other government institutions cannot be criticized forget that in a democracy the people are supreme, and therefore can criticize all government agencies, which are only servants of the people.

In feudal times the king was supreme, and the people were his subjects. Hence the people had no right to criticize the king, and were punished for doing so. However, in a democracy this relationship is reversed. Now the people are supreme, and all authorities, whether the legislature or the ministers, or judiciary, or bureaucrats, or police, or army, are nothing but the servants of the people. Surely the master has the right to criticize his servant, and take him to task if he is not working properly or doing something improper.

Justice Markandey Katju

Justice Markandey Katju:

Hamid Mir had held the ISI responsible for the disappearance of Baluch nationalists who were said to be in ISI custody. If the ISI was aggrieved against this it could have filed a defamation case against Mr. Mir, but giving him threats or attacking him is totally unacceptable in a democracy.

Hundreds of brave, independent minded journalists in Pakistan have been attacked (whether by Taliban elements or security agencies) and many killed. This is deeply regrettable and condemnable.

Some clerics in Pakistan, instigated by people in rival TV channels, have strongly condemned Geo TV for showing a qawwali during model/actress Veena Malik’s wedding, and used this to attack the media company. This just shows the level of bigotry and stupidity prevailing in Pakistan.

I have carefully seen the qawwali on the internet, and find nothing objectionable in it. There was no insult to Islam or the Prophet (on him be peace) or his family members (on them be peace). It seems that some people in Pakistan want to create a hullabaloo over everything, either because of fanaticism or some ulterior motive like rivalry with Geo TV.

If this trend continues. I fear that soon the saner, liberal and secular voices will totally disappear from Pakistan, and even the educated people, out of fear, will keep their mouths shut and bow down permanently before these feudal, fanatic elements in Pakistan, which will hurl it back into the dark middle ages.

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One Response

  1. Yes right Beena Sawrwar. Already Pakistan is saturated with bigotry and intolerance. In offices even so called educated people would start scolding you when we confront opposing view even with a light tone. People all the time talk about religion,how to drink water in a Islamic way. If a person drinks a water while standing they would start abusing him. But when it comes to work, the same people would become lethargic. They would come late and run away early. Sometimes I laugh and think what kind of Islam they follow. Whether in the garb of religion they are fooling others or they are themselves fooled.

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