Fight Corruption, Not Judiciary

The growing attacks by Pakistan’s politicians on the judiciary are regrettable. The evolving war-of-nerves in the backdrop of the Supreme Court’s decision against an impugned piece of legislation, granting immunity from prosecution to the corrupt, can lead to a weakening of the democratic process.

The top court’s ruling, which will inevitably lead to a re-opening of corruption cases against high-profile people in the corridors of power, has not come as a surprise but the executive’s defiance is shocking. It seems that the hawks are trying to subdue the government’s earlier resolve to contest the cases in a court of law. This display of belligerence is unwarranted. The People’s Party government can do better by adopting a political and constitutional approach to the issue at hand, rather than opt for confrontation with the judiciary.

The attack by some of the party stalwarts, including the presidential spokesperson, is unacceptable. The defence counsel has already invited ire by unwisely trying to blame the army and the US intelligence agency for plotting to overthrow the elected government. Moreover, the move to censure the media for its assertive role, which the government believes is partial, is quite unfortunate. Such an approach will lead to further instability and distract it from addressing the core issues: war against militants and an ailing economy. It would be imprudent of a government to thwart the judicial process and intimidate the judiciary. This government has endured crisis after crisis since it came into power in February 2008. Irrespective of its unimpressive performance, it has weathered the storm — be it the power crisis in Punjab, reinstating the sacked judiciary, or the battered Kerry Lugar aid bill, not to mention the unabated wave of terror that had shattered people’s confidence in the government.

The judicial verdict, which is hailed by all and sundry as a major step towards strengthening the rule of law in the country, should not be looked down upon. There is no point in attributing it to a plot intended to wrap up another civilian dispensation. The magnanimity expressed by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani when he said that his cabinet ministers should fight their cases and at the same time ensure that the governance process is not hampered is laudable. This is the right approach in a difficult time. It is incumbent upon the democratically elected government to eradicate corruption from its rank and file. This is the only way forward for Pakistan.

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