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Business

October 20, 2010

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One or 175 million?

From one crisis to the next, the country has been in the grip of an unsavoury uncertainty ever since the PPP-led coalition took over in 2008. No one else is to blame for this than the incumbent government and its unwise, NRO-tainted cohorts.
In his address on October 17, the prime minister stressed on the need that his word should be respected, whether spoken or written. He forgot that for that to happen, he needed to have earned credibility on the basis of delivering on his previous commitments. Being head of a government that, by now, has become notorious for reneging on every promise it makes and taking credit for things that everyone knows belongs elsewhere, he is the last person who should harbour that expectation. From the Islamabad accord to the written agreement in Murree to promises made in Dubai and elsewhere, the pledge to restore the judiciary, honour the Charter of Democracy (COD) and implement the Supreme Court injunctions, nothing was honoured. It needed a pioneering movement spearheaded by the legal fraternity, the civil society and the political parties that led to the intervention of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) to restore the independent judiciary. For a government that has been continually mired in breaking commitments and having created an environment of deep-rooted scepticism about its intentions, it should not have come as a surprise that the Supreme Court demanded a written submission from the prime minister stating the federation's position in the wake of the reported move to withdraw the Executive Order.
The prime minister even tried to give a spin to his statement made on the floor of the house in which he had stressed that the Executive Order issued by him for the restoration of the judges needed the authentication of the parliament. Obviously, it was a veiled threat made to keep the judges from doing their duty as dictated by the constitution. It makes for strange logic that, on the one hand, the government takes 'credit' for

issuing the Executive Order when none is due while, on the other hand, it cautions that the proclamation could be withdrawn if the judges did not 'behave'.
Most glaring of all, what should one make of the claim when the prime minister ruled out the clash of institutions during his tenure? Those who have anything to do with the nuances of running the government agree that there already is a confrontation between the government and the apex judiciary that springs from the non-implementation of the Supreme Court injunctions, particularly the one relating to the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) having been declared void ab initio, and its natural consequences. Already, the government's wavering and contradictory stances have led to the exit of two attorney generals, one chairman and one prosecutor general of NAB, two law secretaries, and countless other functionaries who could not cope with the government's debilitating antics. In order to further perpetuate its undignified intentions, the government has now appointed a PPP jiyala, who was twice elected to the Sindh provincial assembly on the party ticket, as the NAB chairman - a move that has already been challenged in the Supreme Court by the leader of the opposition in the national assembly.
Elsewhere, there is a total absence of governance leading to the collapse of the writ of the state, increasing signs of violence emanating from various echelons of society, inflation bordering at 25 per cent, a power crisis made worse by the abnormal enhancement in the rates driving it beyond the reach of the ordinary citizens, a pitiable law and order situation, absence of any credible programme to drive the country out of a myriad of problems and a shaky coalition that gives signs of coming apart on a daily basis. There is a crude display of nepotism in every walk of life. To top it all, there is the presidential palace that is perpetually at odds with any effort to evolve a civilised structure and policies ensuring smooth and result-oriented governance. Why? Simply because, if that were to happen, the incumbent of the house on the hill would be its first victim!
Does it, therefore, follow that every move that is planned and implemented in the state of Pakistan is with the sole intention of saving the occupant of the presidential palace from the possible consequences of the Supreme Court injunction on NRO? There is practically no reason to refute this conclusion as conspiracies are unearthed every day to thwart any movement in that direction. SC injunctions are being blatantly flouted. As a consequence, a whole country and its institutions including the parliament, the executive and the judiciary, and over 175 million of its people have been consigned to the purgatory and are being held hostage to the effort to save one man who operates through a coterie of sycophants always on the prowl singing praises of their master and his chance political legacy bequeathed upon him vide his tragically assassinated wife Benazir Bhutto.
Enough of this charade! The unprecedented national movement that led to the restoration of an independent judiciary is still alive and would respond appropriately if there were a veritable threat to the Supreme Court and it's functioning. The government's hedging would further motivate the people to decisively untangle the 175 million people from the self-aggrandising tactics perpetrated through a team of NRO-tainted ministers and functionaries. It is simply a question of one or 175 million. The answer should be clear to all by now.

The writer is a political analyst.
Email: [email protected]

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