Power players

Pillars of power game in Pakistan appear to be busy in in enhancing their political and institutional interests in the name of the constitution, public and state; they are foolishly trying hard to be custodian of the country, constitution and public interests. Whether egocentrism of institutions will lead positive or negative effects on the state, the future will decide. Pakistan is indeed standing on the brink of make or break situation and recent statements Chief Justice and Chief of the Army Staff have added fuel to the injuries.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudary stated in his address, “Supreme Court is the ultimate protector of the Constitution; tanks and missiles don’t guarantee security and stability” (Dawn 06.11.2012). Responding to the statement, Chief of Army Staff Pervaiz Ashraf Kayani stated that no person or institution is a sole arbitrator of the national interest. He further stated that all institutions in Pakistan appeared to be in a haste to achieve something without appreciating whether they were promoting the rule of law and constitution and strengthening or weakening the institutions. The next day Chief Justice again passed sarcastic remarks during a judicial hearing in reaction to the army chief statement that he had ‘experienced yesterday’ how much army respected the judiciary.

The situation is unique in a way that it is the first time in the history of Pakistan all major players of power parliament, judiciary and army standing in front of each other. Since 1958, Pakistan’s army has been controlling the internal and foreign affairs of the country, which has not done any good to the country, rather turned Pakistan into a ‘security state’ than a rule-oriented or social welfare state. It is the first time that the top-brass is feeling that the power of their institution (military) is being challenged since General Musharraf’ left the throne of power. Army respect has drastically been diminished drastically over the period of time. Now the situation is against them therefore not only they are criticized in public discussions but in the legal discourse as well. Nor are they enjoying the overall support of the society as they did in the past. Besides they are in direct conflict with Judiciary who in the past played the role of second fiddle. The supreme court has added insult to the injuries by taking up cases of corruption and misuse of power in which military top-bras were directly involved, for example, ‘missing person’s case’ and ‘illegally distributing money among politicians in order to get the desired results of the 1993 election’. The generals are not willing to digest the new face of the judiciary and decisions where ex-high ranking military officials were accused of corruption and for politically incorrect behavior because they were scared that it would further weaken the institution’s power.

If the military has been interested in to make a Pakistan as a ‘security state’ so now it appears that the judiciary spreading its legs to turn the state into ‘judicial state.’ It seems that the judiciary wishes to have larger share of the state’s power. They wish to strengthen their power and do want to lose the opportunity that they got after the lawyers movement of 2007. Since the reinstatement of the judges, who were disposed of by Musharraf’s regime, they consider it as their prerogative to intervene in the issues where they have no authority. For example, they do not have the power to pass a verdict in which they stated that the current Blaochistan government had lost its constitutional authority to govern the province. The verdict was based on the argument that the provincial government failed to control the disturbance and killing in the province. Accepting the judicial argument means that provincial and federal government in the future will be at the mercy of the judiciary. The federal government in their review petition has rightly argued that the judiciary is indirectly trying to obtain the power 58-2B, which had been repealed from the constitution (The Dawn 09.11.2012). In another judicial decision, the judiciary foolishly mentioned that the holder of office of the President could not participate for two years in the election after vacating the office. The restriction applies to bureaucratic and judicial offices and not the political office such as presidency. If they keep misusing the right of interpreting the constitution according to their bias, prejudice and convenience, hardly anyone will trust them. The history of judiciary shows that they have been very active during civilian rules but docile during military rules. The current judges must appreciate that they cannot get ‘clean chit’ due to blacken past in which they misused judicial power by siding the unconstitutional and unlawful act of military generals and rulers, for example, doctrine of necessity is invention of combined efforts of military and judiciary.

Politicians are showing slightly less concerned with the recent statements of both chiefs because they are well aware of the fact that both the institutions hardly paid respect to them at any stage of the history. The history shows that they have never been respected from both institutions. Of course, this is interesting and amusing situation for politicians to watch the two powerful institutions in struggle of power, which is predominantly domain of politics and parliament. Nevertheless, politics is a domain of politicians but they have miserably failed in protecting their domain. They have been interested in promoting their selfish micro interests instead of initiating the state-building process which gave a chance to military and judicial bureaucracies to play a match on their wicket. Of course, cunning politicians like Zardari will not sit silently in the corner in this power game and they will put all efforts to make the situation muddier, which will bring any advantage neither to the public nor to the country.

 

Nadeem Yousaf

24 November 2012

References

http://epaper.dawn.com/DetailNews.php?StoryText=06_11_2012_001_002 downloaded on 10 November 2012

http://epaper.dawn.com/DetailNews.php?StoryText=06_11_2012_001_003 downloaded on 10 November 2012

http://epaper.dawn.com/DetailNews.php?StoryText=09_11_2012_001_003 downloaded on 10 November 2012