EDITORIAL: The headlines over the last few days seem to have left many in the country, especially the major players in the economy, wondering if a de-escalation between the federal government and the Supreme Court is even possible now.

First the former brushed aside the latter’s orders in the matter of following clearly stated provision of the constitution and holding Punjab and KP (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) elections in the stipulated 90-day period. Then it legislated to clip what even some legal observers not directly linked to the ruling coalition felt was excessive authority granted to the CJP; but in a way that reeked of blatant opportunism.

Yet, the prompt rebuttal from the eight-member SC bench hearing the petition questioning the constitutionality of the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill – the unanimous but unprecedented ‘anticipatory injunction’ stopping it from taking effect – coupled with the CJP’s decision to bypass the federal government and directly order the SBP (State Bank of Pakistan) to release necessary funds for the said elections, has pushed the country into the kind of clash of institutions in which only one side can emerge victorious. That is to say that the window which could have allowed all parties to take small steps back and defuse the situation appears to have been slammed shut by the principal players themselves.

There are simply too many faults to be found on all fronts for any side to claim the higher ground. For example, it’s difficult to understand why any government would disregard both the constitution and the court’s orders in the matter of holding elections, unless it needs to run away from the vote.

And, for that matter, it beggars belief why the chief justice would pick the same judges and benches to hear cases of extreme national and constitutional importance, even when some of them have become controversial and legal bodies up and down the country are calling for hearings to be conducted by the full court.

These are questions that can only be answered with actions. But that would require the wisdom needed to balance one’s actions in light of the bigger picture. Pakistan is under extreme economic and security stress, after all, with there’s no telling if sovereign default or another mini-civil insurgency by TTP (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan) will come first.

An ugly all-out war between a government struggling for legitimacy and an internally fractured judiciary may just be the last missing piece of the puzzle that finally pushes the entire country over the edge.

And this isn’t even something that could not have been avoided. All that was needed was for the government to follow the constitution in letter and spirit and arrange elections due in two provinces.

And for the judiciary, especially the honourable chief justice, to embody the law his court defends and implements by protecting the sanctity of judges and benches hearing serious cases, instead of making the practice controversial for no reason at all and going out of his way to be seen leaning towards a specific position.

The biggest cruelty of these self-inflicted wounds is that it harms ordinary people of this Islamic republic far more than the protected and privileged people that inflicted them.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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Joe Apr 19, 2023 04:54pm
Pakistan is an unfortunate country where politicians and generals remain clueless bout rule of law and the sanctity of the constitution! No one has taught them how to follow the rules! The current drama is just to defer elections by gaining time and by fooling the masses like past 75years!
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Javed Apr 20, 2023 04:25pm
@Joe, Very true...the compromised Generals and Judges have become a clear and present danger to the future of the country.
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