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Thursday June 20, 2024

President, PM can prevent clash between institutions

There has been an unprecedented escalation of tension between the judiciary and the establishment

By Ansar Abbasi
May 18, 2024
President Asif Ali Zardari (right) and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif (left). —X/@CMShehbaz/@AAliZardari/File
President Asif Ali Zardari (right) and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif (left). —X/@CMShehbaz/@AAliZardari/File

ISLAMABAD: The country’s head of state and head of government have yet to take action regarding their potential role in resolving the escalating tension between the judiciary and the military/security establishment.

In recent weeks, there has been an unprecedented escalation of tension between the judiciary and the establishment, raising concerns that, if left unchecked, it may lead to a serious crisis.

President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif have been passive observers so far, with neither of them speaking on the issue or showing any intention to mediate between the two parties.

Independent observers believe that in such circumstances, the president and the prime minister should not remain indifferent, as a confrontation between the judiciary and the military establishment could harm the entire system and the country as a whole.

“They have a role to play,” said a political source, expressing disappointment at the complete silence from both the president and the PM. It is suggested that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif either consult with President Asif Ali Zardari on the issue or take the initiative himself.

As head of state and supreme commander of the armed forces, the president is in a better position to prevent conflict between the institutions. Both the president and the prime minister have the option of convening a meeting at the Presidency with the chief justice of Pakistan and all chief justices, along with top members of the military and security establishment, to address the issues causing tension.

Following a letter from six Islamabad High Court judges alleging interference from intelligence agencies in judicial affairs, Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa had invited Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for a meeting at the Supreme Court building. While they agreed to establish a commission led by former CJP Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, Jillani declined to lead the commission due to pressure from lawyers, political parties, and social media.

Subsequently, the CJP took suo moto notice of the judges’ letter and formed a larger bench to hear the case.

To prevent a direct clash between the judiciary and the security establishment, independent observers suggest that the president and the prime minister should intervene.

Last year, top officials from the ISI and MI had met with the then-chief justice of Pakistan and two other apex court judges to address tensions related to a case in Punjab.

To defuse tensions and avoid further conflict, it is believed that the president can invite the chief justice of Pakistan and all chief justices of the high courts to meet with top military and security establishment leadership. The prime minister should also participate in the meeting.