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February 11, 2019

Indiscriminate enforcement of rule of law


February 11, 2019

Head of PPP Media Cell

Supreme Court’s judgment of Faizabad dharna delivered last week is not only scintillating example of dispensation of justice but will also be seen as such, as justice has been delivered handsomely and unequivocally. The judgment would surely have the far-reaching and heartening consequences for Pakistani state enabling it to get out of the labyrinth of endless confusions that had tragically unleashed the cascade of ravages of appalling proportion on the political and ideological frontiers of the country. It explicitly castigated the “self-proclaimed saviors’ as the root cause of the national woes and humiliations. The PPP leader Syed Khursheed Shah while welcoming the landmark decision of the Supreme Court has urged the government to implement it in letter and spirit. PPP leader Farhatullah Babar while appreciating the judgment urged the Parliament to legislate pro-actively as the Supreme Court had illuminated the path leading to the rectification of the role of the state institutions destined to fulfill the purpose of the primary law of the land (constitution).

It will be important to observe as what the government does in this count notwithstanding what it says. Notably, it may not say anything else except accepting the judgment in totality vowing to implement it without any impression of an iota of reservation. The Information Minister has said so in a statement issued to the media. No executive arm of the government can imagine of defying the apex court directions. The government may file review petition if it decides so. But, in this case the chances are non-existent because of the strong plausibility of the apex court’s decision attracting the widest recognition and acceptance at people’s level who had gone through the difficult times during the Faizabad sit-in making their lives miserable right across the country. Only time will tell whether the government implements it faithfully, or resort to dilly dallying juxtaposed with playing to the gallery. Tinkering around the edges may not suffice as the people had enough of the dharnas politics and its torturous pitfalls. These tactics, if resorted to, may prove grossly counter-productive and as such may not be considered as an option for very obvious reasons. Surely, their legal advisers may have apprised the leadership about the untoward consequences of the overt or covert recalcitrance.

The PPP’s press release has warmly welcomed the Supreme Court decision hoping that the heads of the state institutions, apropos to the decision of the apex court, may take necessary steps against the personnel who prima facie acted beyond the call of their duty during the Faizabad sit-in last year that kept the government and the people of two cities and indeed the whole country as its hostage. The judgment also made it incumbent upon the state institutions to operate within the ambit of the Constitution with directions to proceed against those who tend to trespass their constitutional limits as visualised in the Constitution. It may be safely deduced that the scrupulous implementation of the judgment may address all the anomalies in our system thoroughly and comprehensively those had forced the nation to remain stuck in a rut characterised by downward trajectory --barring few exceptions when the nation really made significant strides during the watch of elected governments. National humiliations like the dismemberment of the country, territorial losses, extremism and terrorism, etc. were all the mind-numbing legacies of the dictators ‘self-proclaimed saviors’.

The Supreme Court has indeed illuminated the path leading to the national redemption that was grotesquely muddled by the anti-democratic forces impeding the nation to realise its full potentials as per vision of the Quaid. Now, it is the utmost parliamentary responsibility of the law makers to make judicial use of the Supreme Court judgment as a legal instrument to clear the way leading to the total empowerment of the people as being the ultimate stakeholders. The finality of the decision has done away with the possibility of emanating of any pressure from any quarter to deviate them from the imperatives of the rule of law. The Parliament is now further empowered of clearing the deck of the debris that had been major source of stigmatisation for the nation. The Parliament may gear up to undertake legislative business to realise the spirit of the apex court’s judgment by ensuring the application of constitutional law indiscriminately. Parliament being the voice of the people representing the endowment of their aspirations may serve the people in substantive manners in the context of the judgment.

There is one problem that may cause irritants in the implementation of some of the high points of the judgment, not by design but by default. Ironically, the incumbent Parliament’s composition is evenly divided between the treasury and opposition benches. It is an asset if they are in good terms, and indeed liability if they are up in arms against each other. The situation is not so promising in the Parliament because of sharp political division. Unfortunately and strangely enough, the government does not consider the indispensability of the Opposition in the functioning of parliamentary democracy and therefore the performance of this Parliament so far is absolutely abysmal. One fails to understand the method in madness of the government because a dormant Parliament reflects poorly on the government in the first place. The Opposition stands to gain in such a stalemate by projecting the government’s failures in all walks of national life attributed to its incompetence and lack of understanding of the issues adversely impacting the lives of the people. Unfortunately, there are no signs of jettisoning this policy by the government as upping of the brinkmanship is continuing to the collective chagrin of the nation. Common people are very much frustrated and their anxiety has been scaling up with every passing day. The confrontation between the two sides of the political divide is not abating rather increasing with their swords unsheathed.

The PTI government is strange in its dealing with Opposition because it has dropped no hint whatsoever of reaching out to the Opposition in its quest to seek their cooperation in order to run the system smoothly and according to the democratic traditions. Oddly, the ruling party wants to run the business of the government in isolation and without taking the Opposition on board on issues of national importance. In parliamentary democracy, Parliament is the focal of all political activities as issues are discussed in threadbare with a view to get the input of the other side of the political divide to make the piece of run up legislation as perfect as possible wrapped in political consensus. The ruling party has been in the mindset of unblemished wisdom and therefore does not seemingly believe in the relevance of collective wisdom, the hallmark of democracy. Let us hope and pray that better sense may prevail sooner than better and the leadership takes the U-turn for good well before driving over the cliff to evade the inevitable and dangerous consequences.

It may be recalled, the leader of the House at the outset boasted proudly with commitment to be available to answer the questions on the performance of his government during the PM’s weekly question hour. The fulfillment of the commitment is still a distant cry because the prime minister has rarely grace the House with his presence suggesting his level of attachment to the Parliament. The House has yet to avail itself of the question hour because the prime minister has not made himself available even once, may be due to the apprehension of ruthless grilling by the Opposition members. Ruling party’s parliamentary credentials may be in reverse gear at the expense of its political capital, a prohibitive cost.

PTI sit-in spread over months during 2014 was indeed focused to delegitimise the then democratic institutions wrought with dangers to wrap up the entire democratic system in the country. The credit for the continuity of the political system squarely goes to the other political forces those stood like a steel wall in the way of the undertakers of sit-in politics to disintegrate its push or putsch. Information Minister’s defence of sit-in is misplaced because the nation is still unaware of the dividends that he claimed were numerous. Its leadership was then seemingly bent upon to take the risk of rocking the boat in a bid to grab power by hook or crook. Its berating of the Parliament in perpetuity may not raise many eyebrows in the face of their smothering of the Parliament in the past calling it as fake elected forum. The Judicial Commission discounted the PTI propaganda but faced no consequences of their baseless allegations. The step-motherly treatment meted out to the Parliament by the ruling party may be prelude to pave the way for the presidential system of government that their leadership is so fond of. PPP leadership’s resolve to defend 18th Amendment and the parliamentary system has exposed the so-called protagonists as they now sparingly talk on the subject. Co-Chairman of the PPP, Asif Ali Zardari’s resolve to defend the parliamentary system no matter what may put cold water on the hopes of the promoters of the presidential system on behalf of others.

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