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     Volume 4 Issue 7 | August 6, 2004 |

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Justice Kayani
A Man of Courage

M. Azizul Jalil

It was February 1959. We, the CSP probationers were in the Residency Building on the Upper Mall in Lahore; the Civil Service Academy was located in that large colonial-era building. General Ayub Khan had taken over power the year before in October and soon declared himself a Field Marshal. On arrival in Lahore in late 1958, as a condition of joining the service, we had to swear allegiance in writing to the new government. The general atmosphere was one of fear and uncertainty as the army was strictly enforcing martial law. All political activities were suspended.

The CSP Association of West Pakistan, of which Justice Kayani (then Chief Justice of the Punjab High Court) was the president, had invited the president of Pakistan to a dinner. On the appointed evening, accompanied by Akhtar Hossain CSP (Governor of West Pakistan), the president arrived at the Residency. Dressed in either either black sherwanis or dinner jackets we had lined up in the large upper floor living room to welcome the president. Ayub Khan met the young officers, warmly shook hands wtih them and said a few words to each one of us. I had unfortunately missed to button up one of my sherwani's (then the national dress) numerous buttons. To my surprise and embarrassment I soon found out that it had not escaped the attention of the Field Marshal; after saying something nice, he softly pointed out the omission to me. We all then moved to the dining table, which was large enough to sit the chief guest and his immediate entourage and the CSP members (about forty men in all) present in Lahore on that day.

Gauhar, (the president's eldest son who was then a captain in the army) and his father's ADC had also come. He was sitting next to me. When I tried to make conversation with him, he amusingly mentioned that he was Gauhar Ayub and happened to have the same name as the president (as if I was supposed to know who he really was!). Justice Kayani gave the address of welcome. He began by contrasting the civil and military style of responding to invitations. He smilingly said that when he invited the civilian governor, the latter's secretary replied by thanking him for the invitation and informing that the governor would be very pleased to attend the dinner. However, when he received the response from the Military Secretary (ms) to the president, it stated that the president had commanded him to acknowledge the invitation and to inform that the president had kindly agreed to accept it.

Kayani spoke for about ten minutes reading from a ruled exercise book. It was memorable and one of his finest speeches. All his criticism of the martial law was expressed through subtle and satirical comments. The speech had a profound effect on those present; its content soon leaked out and reached a wide and receptive audience in the country. Indeed, it inspired subsequent anti-martial law movements. "good of the country".

Even today, I recall him saying, "Field Marshal, when you imposed martial law first there was silence, then we started to hear whispers and sir, when many people whisper it can turn into a whispering campaign." He said that in imposing martial law, the Pakistan Army had really conquered its own country. Ayub was red in the face when he got up to reply. Holding Kayani's exercise book, Ayub joked that it was his hope that Kayani would put as much effort in writing his judgments as he had put in writing the speech. Then he gave a long list of the reforms he had introduced or planned for the "good of the country".

Kayani thus became one of the earliest and sharpest critics of martial law and of the autocratic government in Pakistan. Since he was in government service, it took great courage to be so outspoken in his criticism of the military government. He continued in the same spirit of defiance both during his remaining period in the country's judiciary (about three years) and after his retirement until death in late 1962. Kayani became a voice of reason, individual rights, justice and democracy, providing a strong intellectual basis for opposition to autocratic rule and military government. No wonder, he never made it to the Supreme Court!

We met Kayani again at the annual CSP Association picnic. In the spring of 1959, the picnic was in the large lush green grounds of the Residency. At one point the games started. One was a tug-of-war match between the young probationers and the rest (i.e. the seniors). Kayani, as I mentioned was the Chief Justice; he also acted as the judge for the competition. Naturally, I was on one side pulling a huge, thick rope along with my colleagues. While doing so my heels were not always firmly and flatly on the ground. Frankly, I did not even know all the rules but Kayani knew; he came to me to warn that next time he would have to disqualify me. The match was quite a serious matter! Eventually our side lost.

I should mention here that in late 1962 when for a few months I was the acting-Deputy Commissioner of Chittagong, I received a call from Hafizur Rahman Malik, C.S.P. who was then the General Secretary of the East Pakistan C.S.P. Association. He requested me to meet with Justice Kayani (who was visiting Chittagong) and invite him on behalf of the Association to a dinner in Dhaka. I arranged to meet Jusice Kayani next morning at 10 am at the house of L.A. Siddiky (president of the local bar association) whose house- guest he was. As I entered the house, I noticed a strange silence all around. Siddiky told me that Kayani had not woken from sleep. The servants had found him dead in bed in the morning apparently from a massive heart attack. I was shocked. Alas, my mission would remain unaccomplished! From that moment till the evening when we went to put his coffin in the PIA plane to Dhaka to Karachi, I was constantly there making innumerable calls to senior people in Dhaka, Lahore and Rawalpindi and making all the arrangements to send the coffin to West Pakistan.

I called the Military Secretaries of the Nawab of Kalabagh (Governor of West Pakistan) in Lahore and the President of Pakistan at Rawalpindi several times to request that arrangements be made for the body to be flown to Kohat, his home town in the North-West Frontier Province of West Pakistan for burial (that was the family's wish). Despite Kayani's relentless and biting criticism of the Ayub administration, they fully cooperated and asked me to prepare the body and send it to Karachi from where they would take over and fly the coffin in an air force plane to Kohat. In view of the heat and long gap between death and the burial time, I requested arrangements for refrigeration of the body from Karachi to Kohat. They also helped by instructing the PIA staff in Chittagong to fully cooperate with me in the matter. I recall that a couple of my senior well -wishers in Dhaka cautioned me on the phone not to do so much because Kayani was not popular with the Ayub government. They believed that such enthusiasm for him even in death could adversely affect my service career. Nothing of the kind ever happened!

With the help of the Civil Surgeon of Chittagong and technicians, the body was embalmed. It was covered with tea leaves in a coffin made of tea chest delivered courtesy of Abul Kashem Khan. We held a janaza after which, with police motor cycle escorts and full honour, we drove in a large procession in the afternoon to the Patenga airport. At my request, the plane was kept waiting for us to handover the coffin. Since the halt in Dhaka was to be brief, the C.S.P. Association members decided to pay their respects to Kayani at the Tejgaon airport.

It was an honour for me to have had this unique opportunity of providing some service to the memory and remains of a man I considered truly great and courageous. After Kayani's death, his speeches were published in book form. Despite past differences, President Ayub Khan was gracious enough to write the foreword to this book.

The writer, a former civil servant and a retired member of the World Bank Staff, writes from Washington.



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