Let the Dust Settle

Jawaid IqbalNotwithstanding the eventful vicissitudes of fortune as democracy in Pakistan has experienced particularly in recent years, what was left to happen surreptitiously in the corridors of power through concealed mistrust is now taking place out in the open. Fortunately or unfortunately, the recent series of events this time has something to do with the country’s top authority of law. As things currently stand, a loud and clear split within the Supreme Court (SC) has now become as plain as day, particularly over the interpretation of law on holding elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa within the stipulated 90-day period as per the provisions of the Pakistan Constitution.

However, the emerging schism at the SC level was not even enough for the ruling Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) coalition government. Led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, the incumbent government, from the word go, looks determined to cash in on the glaring gap at the top judicial level to hold its grip on power and is now going an extra mile to protract its rule and preserve the status quo that too to the detriment of a much-needed political stability in the country, coupled with both short and long-term national interest. Rearing its ugly head yet again, that was entirely the sinister brainchild of the PDM government to accentuate the very divide at the SC level by inviting Justice Qazi Faez Isa, senior puisne judge of the Supreme Court slated to become the next chief justice in September this year, to address a special national constitutional convention at the National Assembly hall in order to mark the golden jubilee of the Constitution of Pakistan. Historically speaking, Pakistan Constitution was passed by the National Assembly on April 10, 1973 and promulgated on August 14, 1973. The second generation of most of the people who were involved in the framing of the 1973 Constitution, was present. However, the signatory of Constitution Syed Qaim Ali Shah was not asked to speak on the occasion. More’s the pity, Justice Isa was the only top court judge out of 15 SC judges, who was invited to attend and address one of the special occasions of its kind.

For fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Over and above a blatant politicization of judicial differences, what was evinced under the garb of golden jubilee celebrations in the Parliament’s joint session where non-members are seldom allowed to partake other than President and Attorney General, was in fact a brazen attempt at setting up an already confrontational environment with the executive and the legislature. When the rest of the SC judges were not invited at all, why only one broke the rank? Justice Isa was perhaps kept in the dark regarding the matter, but principally speaking, he should not have come in the first place, as his presence in the Parliament gave bad optics by all measures. Amid institutional tussle, it’s mostly up to the incumbent government to act responsibly without indulging into a whispering campaign against the selected faces in the judiciary. The need of the moment is to let the dust settle in place of splitting the schism wide open as we are not supposed to burn the house we live in.

Syed Jawaid Iqbal
President & Editor in Chief