Mr Muhammed Rafique Tarar’s long and arduous quest to restore his pension may finally be getting some traction in government offices. The retired senior justice of the Supreme Court served as the 9th President of Pakistan from 20 January 1998, until he was forced to resign by Pervez Musharraf. He claims his pension as ex-president has been frozen at a paltry amount of Rs Rs 48,450 by two successive governments who bore him “ill will”. While that claim does hold true, the snail pace of bureaucratic decision making for such special requests also has a part to play.

The ex-president has always performed his duties responsibly and humbly, and his case does have merit on the face of it. He did part company with his office in unfair circumstances, his previous requests have been referred to the Law Ministry too, and most importantly his current pension of around 50,000 rupees is less that the Prime Minister’s secretary’s.

However, it is a contrast that must be made, that a head of state is having to petition a court for a pension, while no such complaints have ever been heard from an ex-head of the army, or any other government institution. Yet, much maligned though politicians are, they aren’t all bad, and they aren’t all corrupt and overcompensated. Voters may be annoyed perhaps at their tax rupees being spent on pensions, but would they rather pay an undisclosed amount in pensions to the officers of the armed forces, or will they support an ex-President openly and frankly petitioning the court for a boost to his modest pension?

Naturally not all have petitioned the court this humbly. Notably the example of Mr Tarar’s fellow member of the judiciary, former Chief Justice Chaudhry Iftikhar. By refusing to give back the official cars that he was issued, instead of adding to it, he tarnished the respect and deference his previous office demanded.

Mr Tarar is an honourable gentleman, and his respect derives from his incorruptible reputation. Thus, whether as ex-president his pension is greater or less than a retired Chief Justice’s, makes no difference. His honour is established, and no amount of monetary compensation will make it greater.