Supreme Court legitimising future rule of Bilawals, Hamzas

The spawn of today's leaders will enjoy new parliamentary powers due to unaddressed sections of 18th amendment.

Sadaf Khan October 22, 2010

For the last year and a half, the government and judiciary seem to be involved in a very exclusive ball game. From the NRO to the judges’ notification case, the government has remained the Supreme Court's main concern. Members of the PPP have been reported for the infamous $60million, threatened with Article 6 and a few have been called to court.

In retaliation, the government has reminded the judiciary of its limits, accused it of victimising a single party and even tested the waters by reminding the judges of the 'reality' of the executive order.

As the tug of war between the country's two strongest institutions continues, the public waits in the sidelines for justice. Yet, every new decision is deemed "historic" and a whole lot of noise is made over the possible consequences.

Today, yet another one of these historic decisions has been pronounced.

Thinking about the judiciary

Article 175-A has been referred back to the parliament for reconsideration. According to the verdict, the article poses a threat to the independence of the judiciary. Legal experts, politicians and media moguls applauded the SC's decision to refer the matter to the parliament instead of declaring it void by itself. But so far, nobody has bothered to mention the fact that this decision deals only with the one matter that affected the courts directly.

While the new process of appointing judges remained the most controversial amendment made, it was by far not the only amendment challenged in court.

An amendment to Article 63-A of the constitution handed over disqualification powers to party heads, whether or not they are elected members of the parliament. While this fact in itself might not be so dangerous, the sub clause 4 of Article 17 of the constitution has also been shelved through yet another amendment, removing the need for mandatory intra-party elections.

This amendment is akin to nailing up the coffin of democratically constituted political parties in the country.

Amending power to the people

Combined, both these amendments ensure that the Bilawals, Hamzas & Monis' of the future remain the lawful and constitutional heads of the PPP, PML-N and PML-Q for decades to come. Not only that, the spawn of today's leaders will enjoy the power to get any parliamentarian of their own party disqualified, if they refuse to toe the line and dare to take up a position on their own.

In our country, where democracy is overshadowed by blind hero worship, doing away with the necessity of holding intra-party elections is equal to giving constitutional cover to dictatorial leadership within the parties.

The current "democratic" government is already a puppet in the hands of the president (who also enjoys the position of co-chairman of the PPP). After a couple of years, the strings will probably be given to Bilawal Bhutto, who doesn't have any political expertise to speak of.  The PML-N, similarly, is being run as the family enterprise of the Sharif brothers and with the new and improved constitution, any hope for new political leadership has faded.

The right decision - but for who?

The Supreme Court has heard arguments against both these amendments, alongside the judicial appointment process. But the initial decision revolves around the one matter that concerns the judiciary directly.

It is possible that the lawyers arguing against the said amendments failed to make a strong case, but failing to utter a single word against a constitutional change which gives legal cover to hereditary rulers of political parties raises concerns that the judiciary might be viewing the 18th amendment in a very self-centered way.

Sadaf Khan A broadcast journalist based in Islamabad who was formerly associated with Geo News and Dunya News. She blogs at
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Sarfraz Hussain Naqvi | 13 years ago | Reply SC would do a great job if it can interpret the constitution to mean that Democracy is a Government of the PEOPLE for the PEOPLE and finally by the PEOPLE. Currently it is a Government of the servants of the voters for their near and dear ones where voters get the left over crumb.
Meherzaidi | 13 years ago | Reply Only justice given to common man, his dignity restored can be way to any free judiciary or parliament otherwise there will be God's justice soon.
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