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Tuesday June 18, 2024

The centre can’t hold

By Editorial Board
April 01, 2023

The deepening crisis within the superior judiciary became even more public on Friday, as Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail recused himself from the four-member bench hearing the elections case, saying that he was a member of the bench but he was not consulted while the order was being written. Not only that, Friday also saw the Supreme Court ‘disregard’ – via a ‘circular’ – Justice Isa’s judgment postponing the suo-motu cases.

As we remain transfixed by the almost soap-operatic goings-on in the domain of the higher judiciary, there is no less of a deepening crisis in the country’s political realm. When Benazir Bhutto and Mian Nawaz Sharif had signed the Charter of Democracy in 2006, it came as a surprise to some who had seen the bitter political rivalry between the two in the 1990s. However, there were many who had heaved a sigh of relief that the two political leaders had realized the one thing all political leaders in Pakistan should learn forever – that they will not be used against each other again by any of the institutional power structures in the state. Both Bhutto and Sharif had understood and experienced that, at the end of the day, the musical chairs that they played in the 90s finally culminated in Gen Musharraf taking over and not allowing these two to come back to Pakistan till the very end. Even in the 70s, when the political class stood divided between pro-ZAB and anti-ZAB camps, the ultimate beneficiary was Gen Ziaul Haq.

Today, Pakistan is again at a crossroads, staring into an abyss where the old power structures are leaking away as the new silently look on, where the superior judiciary stands divided, where politicians are baying for each other’s blood, and where the people have been left to either rot away or run away. There is a reason political observers had been warning all political stakeholders to resolve their issues by sitting together so that the political crisis that has been staring at us could have been addressed. There is now even louder talk about a long-term technocratic setup or another undemocratic system. There is still time to resolve this issue – even though it may be too little, too late. And this time, maybe all stakeholders – including those from the institutions – need to be a part of this dialogue.

Pakistan needs a dialogue where truth must be stated but then it should be followed by reconciliation as well as a promise by all to admit their mistakes and then never repeat them again. From the persistent meddling in politics to the doctrine of necessity, to the rewriting of the constitution: unless all these issues are openly resolved, we will go right back to our state of denial. The trust deficit between the political parties is extremely high as well. Unfortunately, all stakeholders have lost credibility and the only way to bring back any credibility to the system is by admitting their mistakes, apologizing, making amends and then holding dialogue to resolve this crisis. Otherwise, the system is collapsing quite rapidly all at once.