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EDITORIAL: So, what the Supreme Court giveth; the Supreme Court taketh away – which, in the case of interpreting Article 62, was once granting itself the authority to “read into the constitution”.

Yet even as politicians politicise this decision and observers lament how the pendulum swings in reverse so quickly in this Islamic republic, perhaps a bigger mystery – if it can be reduced to that – is how different judges and benches of the highest court in the land do offer such strikingly different explanations for the legal grey areas that the constitution is clearly littered with.

For all its complexities, the said article comprises only a few lines of the expansive and extensive document. And the one question that their lordships really needed to bother themselves with was about the fate of the not so “Saadiq and Ameen” from among our lawmakers.

How, now, after all that’s happened, do we dismiss the argument that if a seven-judge bench can overturn the decision of a five-judge bench, then one day a nine- or eleven-judge bench can just as easily take another, perfectly sanctified U-turn?

Counting on elected lawmakers, who ultimately bear the brunt of the honourable court’s decisions, to enact legislation that can and will plug all such legal loopholes is a losing proposition unless you also expect them to learn some hard lessons with time and experience.

For, they had ample opportunity to cleanse the constitution of the fingerprints of a dictator whose word was once law in this land, of which Article 62’s most contentious clauses are just one small part, but instead they chose, every time, to give it more teeth.

And now they fall all over themselves whenever the constitution is dragged into the courts and the timing of the controversy suits some more than others among them.

There’s nothing new about the politics of all this. Sure, Nawaz Sharif and Jahangir Tareen along with their respective parties will celebrate, as they should because they are off the hook, but PTI will also be secretly happy, no matter how much it fumes on social media, because this judgement will also enable Imran Khan to avoid a lifetime ban that is a general expectation because of the manner in which events are apace.

But what this says about the superior judiciary is far more important. This space argued against a lifetime ban even when time and tide were fiercely against such (constitutional) argument.

Just like we reminded this country’s democrats that a dictator’s fiddling with the body of fundamental principles that govern it must be erased and undone inside parliament and not through the courts.

For all the good that the framers of the 18th Amendment did, it’s a shame that they also weaponised Article 62 even though they had the numbers and opportunity to scrap it. They just did not have the will for it.

And that, precisely, is our democracy’s biggest dilemma. It is when politicians fail themselves and everybody they represent in the august house that courts are invariably burdened with doing their job, and then a codified system is expected to decide matters that require debate and political consensus. It’s no wonder that we go round in circles.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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KU Jan 11, 2024 11:27am
In a realistic Pakistan and its future, the time for meanderings is up. The judiciary and other pillars of the state can go around in circles or participate in popularity contests or design the repeated power games, but ignoring the economy and welfare of people is a fact that will undo any ideology of our country. Apart from our uncivilized political heists and greed for power and money, there are huge problems on horizon, especially the ability to ensure food and water security for the nation, in face of climate change, and this change is already here, while no one is bothered. We don't deserve the nefarious leaders or their servants, nor should they be allowed to play with the lives of people of Pakistan.
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