Averting a crisis in Pakistan

It goes without saying that there is a crisis of governance in Pakistan. The democratically-elected government of Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani, it seems, is at odds with the rejuvenated judiciary, which on its end is bent upon to assert its constitutional writ.

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Published: Sat 16 Oct 2010, 9:42 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 1:48 PM

The delaying tactics that the government has adopted in executing the decisions of the court, in moving against the beneficiaries of an impugned law that granted immunity from prosecution to the corrupt, is at the centre of controversy. The government, whereas, believes that the judiciary is encroaching upon the domains of parliament, and is unnecessarily calling into question issues that do not fall within its purview. And they include executive decisions of the government such as promotions and postings, as well as its right to amend the constitution.

But what happened on Thursday night was no less than a high drama, which inevitably hinted at the lack of space that both the judiciary and the government have run into in discharging their constitutional duties. Speculations about the withdrawal of the notification that restored the judiciary that former president Pervez Musharraf had sent packing, took the entire democratic dispensation to the brink of disaster. Though the government refused to comment throughout the night, the honourable 17-member full bench of the Supreme Court remained in session burning midnight oil to avert a situation that could have irresistibly invited a coup from the powerful army, which seems to be getting restless. Yet again the judges retired only after making a point, by saying that any attempt to remove the judges would be tantamount to treason.

Pakistan has had enough of jingoism and the nation, which is reeling under poverty and insecurity, cannot withstand anything further. This brewing sense of instability at home is also contributing to regional insecurity, and that was evident from the recent standoff with Afghanistan and the coalition of the willing. Islamabad will be better advised to exercise restraint and not to jump the gun by preempting moves on the part of judiciary that incidentally enjoy the confidence and support of the masses. A purge in the administration to get rid of people who are convicts and have become a liability cannot be delayed any more. The court on its part had exhibited patience by allowing enough time for the government to execute its orders. It’s no time to play foul.

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