It’s not easy being Asma Jehangir

Having been elected SCBA president, the activist will now face pressure from lawyers, politicians and civil society.

Taha Kerar October 28, 2010
Having secured the presidency of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Asma Jahangir is set to face challenges of a Herculean nature.

She has yet to illuminate a lucid position on the contentious issue regarding the growth of judicial activism. The Executive has viewed the proliferation of this form of activism as a threat to the doctrine of trichotomy which defines power relations in Pakistan’s political system.It is thus perceived as a counter to the supremacy of the parliament and a direct opposition to democratic rule.

This ‘anti-judiciary’ point of view has erroneously grown to typify Asma Jahangir’s candidacy for the SCBA elections since she has expressed the intention to de-politicize the judiciary in order to restore its non-partisan position in performing its authorized duties.

Although Jehangir has espoused the view that an independent judiciary is requisite, her concern over the neutrality of the SCBA and her decision to stand up for judicial principles as opposed to the dictates of Zardari’s administration, depicts otherwise.

Such non-alignment could be both deleterious and favourable to the ongoing tension between the executive and the judiciary. With Asma Jahangir assuming presidency of the SCBA, one can anticipate the presence of an intermediary who could potentially ensure institutional stability in both the executive and the judiciary. Therefore, it can be assumed that her presidency would not be as cataclysmic as Qazi Anwar’s. However, this could incite opposition from the legal fraternity who may feel that the judiciary is compromising on its independence to the point of docility, and subsequently wage a battle for the judicial sovereignty which was won in March 2009.

But what is striking to note is that Asma Jahangir has, during the course of her campaign, expressly stated that the Supreme Court’s judgment on the NRO should be rendered applicable. More importantly, she has also overtly conveyed her support for Article 175A. What is now needed is some measure of clarity regarding her stance on the fate of judicial activism and the executive-judiciary relationship during her term and if this is not stated categorically an almost retrogressive clash between both institutions will become even more imminent.
Taha Kerar A blogger on social events and has previously worked as Assistant Editor for a media magazine. He is currently pursuing Law Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies. He tweets @TahaKehar.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


NGH | 13 years ago | Reply Kudos Asma Jehangir!
Anonymous | 13 years ago | Reply I second the opinion of Naveed Aslam, Jang Group tried their level best to change the election turnout by starting hate campaign against her. but they forgot this time they tried to play with the Supreme Court lawyers sentiments and failed badly. However, all those who think she'll play a partisan role for Government is misunderstanding and it is not forseeable by those who worked with her and now in her election campaign. If she can denounce any politically biased judgment of august court, she can do same for Government as well, irrespective of the fact that Govt. supported her. so not a great good news for Govt too. Secondly, I have read many comments on other websites regarding her victory, who termed it as closure of Independent Judiciary, let me be very clear, that it is not only Asma Jahangir, all those stalwarts of lawyer movement like Aitzaz Ahsan, Munir Malik, Fakhiruddin G ibrahim and Pirzada's along with Ali ahmed Kurd supported her and casted their votes for Asma. So dont you think these stalwarts are working towards end of independent Judiciary??? One thing needs to be determined here, either Our SC became political or these stalwarts went astray.
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