SC and Parliament must reconcile

It is clear now that one state organ is grappling with another. This is not a sign of a sustainable democracy

Throughout Pakistan’s history, the Supreme Court (SC) has passed verdicts that have wrecked democracy in the country. For instance, its support to the unlawful and unconstitutional acts of the dictators made its operations dubious. It is a fact that the judiciary has taken decisions that has ended many political careers. Attesting martial law is among the series of verdicts that has damaged its image.

But the days when unpopular verdicts were passed through the judiciary seem to be gone — for now. Pakistan’s legislature and judiciary are stronger today than ever before, although much more is still required in this regard.

Nawaz Sharif has taken to the streets and is addressing public gatherings in various parts of the country. He continues to insist that the people’s court is the only court that matters. This statement is quite strange, keeping in view the contemporary situation. Maryam Nawaz and the entire Sharif family have been cursing the SC since Nawaz’s disqualification.

Our politicians do not seem to accept or understand that the Judiciary’s entire purpose is to ensure proper implementation of the law. Now that this has started happening, our politicians censure it terming the SC’s decisions to be against democracy. The apex court disqualified Nawaz Sharif on July 28, 2017 over corruption charges. Since then, the ruling party has kept on attacking the SC and its judges.

The love of the people alone does not make a person suitable for the Prime Minister’s office, nor does it prove one to be an ethical person

Soon after his disqualification, parliament tried to nullify the judiciary’s decision and amended the 2017 Electoral Reforms Bill, empowering the disqualified person to be eligible to preside over his political party. It is clear now that one state organ is grappling with the other.

This is not a sign of a sustainable democracy, the kind that has been long desired by the Pakistani masses. The people’s vote is the centre of power, but this does not mean that they can set the yardstick for someone qualifying for office or getting disqualified. Such matters are the sole domain of the courts in any functional democracy.

According to 2013 general elections, PML-N bagged around 14. 86 million votes, setting aside the claims of opposition parties regarding this number. Even if all the voters and supporters declare something right, it will not be right unless the courts say so. It is the job of the judiciary to perform its duties well and ensure that the rule of law is properly implemented throughout the country.

In Pakistan, there are hardly any instances of a party’s supporters inquiring about their leaders on any particular matter. They are usually blind followers, with a completely personality based political view. Regardless, the love of the people alone does not make a person suitable for the Prime Minister’s (PM) office, nor does it prove one to be an ethical person. Hence if a person has done something wrong he should be held accountable, regardless of how many people voted for his party.

Pakistan is already surrounded by hostile neighbours. This is a situation that demands unity among all the organs of the state. The courts need to work hand in glove with the legislature and vice versa. Justice should prevail at any cost. Nawaz and his family should be given a chance to clarify their position — although they have already been given extensive time and ample opportunities to prove the legitimacy of their wealth. Until then, the PML-N and the Sharif family should refrain from trying to exert political pressure on the courts. They should also stop making a mockery of the parliament by having laws created which will directly favour them.

Majority of the people might be wrong, and a few jurists might be right. This is what is apparent in this case. By accepting the verdicts of SC whole-heartedly, all the stakeholders should come closer instead of bashing each other.

The writer is a professional writer and political commentator. He can be contacted @junaidalimalik1 or junaidalimalik3@gmail. com

Published in Daily Times, February 8th 2018.