On a collision course?

Published: March 23, 2012

Aitzaz Ahsan has come up with several reasons for why the case should be dismissed. PHOTO: AGENCIES

In the contempt case initiated by the Supreme Court against Yousuf Raza Gilani, the prime minister’s legal representative Aitzaz Ahsan has come up with several reasons for why the case should be dismissed. For one, argues Aitzaz, the president’s immunity under the constitution is iron-clad and so the prime minister cannot ask Swiss authorities to open cases against him. Then there is the fact that under the law it is the law minister who has to advise the prime minister to write the letter to the Swiss and since he has not done so there is little that the prime minister can do in such a situation. Furthmore, Mr Ahsan’s argument, that the bench of the Supreme Court which initiated contempt proceedings against Gilani should not be the one hearing the case because of a possible conflict of interest, is also a reasonably fair one.

Even though it is not explicitly mandated by law, having a different bench hear the case would protect the Supreme Court from charges of bias and being politically motivated. The argument centres on the supremacy of parliament and the right of review of the Supreme Court. In an ideal world, both institutions — the executive and the judiciary — would work within their constitutionally-defined spheres but alas, we do not live in such a world. That said, it would have been far better and what is happening now could, perhaps, have been avoided if the prime minister had responded to the Supreme Court with these arguments back when he was first asked to write the letter. This pointless delay seems to indicate that the ruling party is, perhaps, banking on the prime minister becoming some kind of martyr and using that to good effect in the forthcoming elections by presenting itself not as the incumbent party, but one that has always been targeted by the establishment. As a political move there can be no denying its power but the PPP, along with the Supreme Court, has ensured that our politics will be extremely divisive when the need of the day is for democratic forces to cooperate and thwart threats to increased democratisation.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 23rd, 2012.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • Mirza
    Mar 23, 2012 - 1:34AM

    Very balanced Editorial and kudos to ET for that. You said: “the PPP, along with the Supreme Court, has ensured that our politics will be extremely divisive when the need of the day is for democratic forces to cooperate”.
    The key here is democratic forces. All secular democratic forces are in the coalition govt while the PCO SC judges are continuously delegitimizing and belittling the mandate of people of Pakistan. They never ever in their history dragged any rightwing leader let alone an army official or a dictator to this extent. They are not going to back off now. By not respecting the powers and privileges of the elected president in the constitution they are exposing the next head of the state to the US, Bangladesh, Indian and European courts for prosecution for protecting terrorists and war crimes.

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  • lalai
    Mar 23, 2012 - 7:30AM

    @Mirza: Completely agree with you.

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  • Democrat
    Mar 23, 2012 - 11:56AM

    @mIrza

    what is your problem exactly?
    all the looters are in the coalition govt… 198 heads of states have immunity but there is no one example in these countries where head of the state is with such a reputation as ours…so before comparing apples to oranges, get lost..

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  • Democrat
    Mar 23, 2012 - 11:59AM

    @ET..

    you would do yourself good if you remain unbiased and avoid partial reporting… you didnt mention what the SC bench said when jiyala aitzaz asked for another bench? they said 7 member bench issue order, 8 member bench heard the appeal, the 1 judge excused himself because he is close relative of Gilani..so who should hear the case then? babar awan?or fozia wahab?

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  • Justin Truthful
    Mar 23, 2012 - 3:29PM

    It is much more difficult to defend a case when the client is on the wrong side of law. If an advocate’s skills and brilliance is measured by how effective he is in impeding justice, then Aitzaz surely deserves kudos.

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  • Truth Seeker
    Mar 23, 2012 - 3:36PM

    Anyone who thinks Supreme Court judges are not dealing with the PM fairly must read this. There is no better patriot in Pakistan than Dr. Qadeer Khan, and see what does he say in his column.

    Sharm Tum Ko Magar Nahin Aati

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