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EDITORIAL: Whilst the political and economic crises are deepening by the day there is no end in sight to the confrontation between the PTI Chairman Imran Khan and the government. Many leaders of his party have been forced to defect and thousands of workers and supporters put behind bars following the unfortunate incidents of May 9 and 10.

Some of the alleged offenders are to be tried by military courts; the party also faces the prospect of a ban. But as the recent polls show, Khan’s messaging still finds resonance with a vast majority of the people. In this fraught atmosphere, Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Hina Jilani has lent a voice to the growing public anxiety over the turn of events.

Although she rightly pointed out that the PTI is not without blame with its history of “hostile politics and contempt for the rule of law”, the HRCP, she said, sees any attempt by the government to ban the PTI “both reckless and disproportionate.” Those responsible for the destruction of public and private property must be held accountable, but “the manner in which certain cases are selected to be tried by military courts, violates the principle of equality before the law and equal protection of the law”.

In her wide-ranging statement, the chairperson of the independent rights body, who is also an eminent lawyer, expressed the regret that the failure of the judiciary to credibly maintain its independence and impartiality has exacerbated the rule of law crisis.

Regarding allegations of violence and custodial torture against political workers and PTI supporters, including women and minors, yet to be verified, she called for an independent investigation into all such allegations. That though is not going to happen under the present ruling alliance.

Nor is about to change what Jilani correctly identified as the government’s “inability or unwillingness” to safeguard civilian supremacy or to preserve the dignity of Parliament. Our fragile democracy is in peril, she warned, and those at the helm may soon find themselves unable to steer the country out of the multiple crises it faces, adding that democracy that Pakistan’s people want and deserve “cannot be built on fluid loyalties and shifting narratives.” Few can disagree with any of this.

The problem, however, is that those ‘unwilling or unable’ to do what is expected of them are interested more in serving their self-interests than in protecting and strengthening democracy. The one advice anyone and everyone who cares about democracy gives the government is to let the people decide who should rule this country.

Reflecting their concerns, Jilani said anything less than free, fair, and credible elections in an environment that allows the exercise of all fundamental freedoms, will leave the country open to a further ill-judged and undemocratic political ‘experiment.’

If the political crisis persists at a time the economy is floundering, rendering millions jobless amid an all-time high cost of living, the people’s pent up anger can erupt on to the streets with a greater force. It is pertinent to recall here what a former US ambassador Cameron Munter said a couple of months ago in a Time magazine cover story about this country. Pakistan’s economic struggles, he had warned, have left it “ripe for a Bolshevik revolution”. The powers that be should pay serious attention to the simmering public discontent and step back before it is too late.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

Comments

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KU Jun 05, 2023 12:33pm
No one disagrees with the prosecution of people involved in criminal activities. If the media was to conduct a poll on people's view on the persecution of PTI workers and party members, a reality contrary to the general belief will emerge. The speed with which cases against leaders are being registered and accused presented in courts is also a question mark for the system. If this performance by the police is witnessed in handling theft and murder cases in our country, we could see unprecedented eradication of crime in the country.
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Shahid Jun 05, 2023 02:21pm
"Reflecting their concerns, Jilani said anything less than free, fair, and credible elections in an environment that allows the exercise of all fundamental freedoms, will leave the country open to a further ill-judged and undemocratic political ‘experiment.’" Since the creation of Pakistan...the perpetual undemocratic political experiment continues...and the country is sinking...economically, politically and morally...and the corrupt ruling elite is busy living its luxurious lifestyle as masses struggle to get a meal!
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zh Jun 08, 2023 12:02am
You forgot to mention the elephant in the room without whom the atrocities and trashing of the constitution would not be possible.
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