Wednesday February 21, 2024

Only way forward

January 22, 2019

Pakistan may remain stuck in a rut in perpetuity if the state institutions continue to defy the universally recognised doctrine of the ‘separation of powers’ known as trichotomy of powers in political theory. Its unhindered adherence by the arms of the government may surely unfold an era of gathering momentum for the recovery of the nation building process that hugely suffered during the political phases of its history. This may be understood like written in stone as the pages of the history of this country vindicates its validity with no uncertain terms. Those who contemplate to violate this doctrine for the culmination of their parochial pursuits do indeed indulge in pushing the statecraft to unchartered waters under the self-coined narrative ‘in the supreme national interests’—the pinnacle of delusion. The insatiable appetite to trespass the space of other constitutional institutions had been catastrophic and may not make exception at all the times as well for being monolithically illogical, irrational and impracticable.

Pakistan’s history of government and politics is tragically riddled with such nightmarish political upheavals bringing down the whole edifice raised by elected/civilian leaderships of the country. The Father of the nation warned the pernicious implications of the above mentioned megalomaniac tendency in 1948 while addressing the oath-taking ceremony at the Staff College, Quetta. But successive military dictators and the powerful coterie of the same ilk continued the flouting of the Quaid’s advice exposing the nation to the cascade of ravages of appalling proportion on the body politics of the country. The state had not recovered yet from such inflictions as it had been still grappling to find its ideological moorings. The same ghost had not withdrawn and continued to haunt the political economy, though sporadically.

New Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa while addressing the full court reference in honor of the outgoing Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar strongly underscored the importance of ‘the separation of powers’ that had been well defined in the constitution ensuring operational independence of the each organ of the government to fulfill the purposes of the primary law of the land. But unfortunately the state institutions functioning had been at variance at times resulting in overt or covert clashes affecting the smooth functioning of the government at the expense of the evolutionary process of the democratic institutions. The chief justice’s observation seemingly implied that the trust deficit among the organs of the government must be rectified. Now the time had come, he added, that all heads of state institutions should sit together and formulate a mechanism to address the embarrassing causes holistically those disrupt the democratic journey of the nation. It may be the need of the hour to whither them on the vine to promote and strengthen modest political gains made hitherto with the firm resolution not to allow the derailment of the evolutionary process. It may not be overemphasised that all the state organs may function within the ambit of the constitution that only may ensure continuity and much cherished resultant political stability so indispensable for the socio-economic development of the people. They had enough of the vagaries of the senseless meddling and infighting of state institutions in the past bringing the country to this hapless pass. The reckless quest to dominate the other constitutional institutions at different times in different forms and manifestations had undoubtedly proved totally calamitous to the collective chagrin of the nation.

The new chief justice’s determination to focus on in the ‘building dam against fake cases and pending cases’ is heart-warming news for the people of Pakistan who had been going through the agonising torture of delayed justice. The curse of filing fake cases on specious grounds, to satisfy the revengeful pursuits, had taken heavy tolls on the judicial system and the people alike. About more than 1.9 million pending cases in the courts is quite a daunting task for the new chief justice, but his firm resolve may make qualitative difference in mitigating the sufferings of the litigants as his top priority. Litigants, at present, are normally made by the system to run from pillar to post and come back home with long face as wheels of justice hardly moved to his frustration.

Former Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar may be appreciated for his indefatigable contributions to highlight the issues of water scarcity and the population explosion in the country. These issues must be addressed for the sake of future of the country failing which the nation may continue to remain embroiled in the vicious circle of deprivation and poverty with food security looming challenge. The message had undoubtedly gone well among all the sections of the society, and no government would afford not to prioritise these pressing issues in their economic development strategy. The establishment of Diamer Basha Dam Fund would be considered as the concerted effort for the Dam in the country to meet the ever-increasing requirements of water for the domestic, industrial sectors in general and for the agriculture sector in particular. The completion of the mega project is critical for ensuring food security for the future generations. The collection of donations for the Dam has been continuing as the effective media campaign was on. The government has also started the similar campaign for the population control in the media in pursuance of the Supreme Court directions to mobilise public opinion for removing misgivings prevalent among some sections of the society.

There may be no dearth of views for judging the former chief justice’s judicial activism as incongruous to the scope of the Judiciary because of perceived mismatch to the quick dispensation of justice after due process of law. The time and the energies of the former chief justice were much needed in the reformation of the judicial system to further the cause of provision of expeditious and inexpensive justice to the people while leaving the other fields of governance with the executive branch of the government. The former chief justice sadly assigned his considerable precious time and energies to other sectors at the expense of the administration of justice that might have made no significant headway. The political leadership of main political parties reminded him then about his primary responsibility but he continued his whirlwind tours of the country to evaluate the performance of the government agencies, and admonishing them for their miserable performances.

He might have better engrossed on reforming the judicial system that was utterly incapable of meeting the requirements of the modern times warranting quality with speed at the same time. His possible regret’ if any, in this count may not do any good for the persons who had been suffering for many years to get justice that was in most of the cases was a farfetched cry. His visiting the hospitals and the inspecting the jail cells might be evaluated as his preferred choice but akin to relegating the prime responsibility of provision of justice to the backburner. His media talks making the news headlines in the news media might be deemed as incompatible to his coveted office that required him away from the full glare of media. Talking judges are like ill-tuned cymbals wrote Francis Bacon because judges speak through their decisions.

The history may or may not favour the former chief justice to place his contributions as catalyst of strengthening of the democratic institutions either. His going around addressing the people’s problems falling generally in the executive branch of the government also presumably undermined the executive branch of the government and Parliament as the people started looking towards judiciary for the solution to their problems. The PML-N government under the former prime minister was literary hanging by a thread as the former chief justice was calling the shots and the government machinery was executing the directions without the submissions in the context of separation of powers. The incumbent government’s comfort level also seemingly suffered especially after the transfer cases of police officers in Punjab and federal capital were set aside.

Constitutional rule and only constitutional rule in the country may underwrite the sustained progress of the country as per the vision of the Father of the Nation. Undoubtedly, depredations inflicted by the despots on the nation in the past were the direct result of their repeated deviations. The Quaid also gave the foreign policy guideline when he said, ‘friendship with all and acrimony with none’. We faulted in this count as well and as such had been bracing the humiliations and indignities attacking from multiple directions. The nation may continue to face the appalling challenges till we see total sense in the adherence to the above mentioned golden words of the Father of the nation.