The primacy of the law

The legal point of whether Mr Sharif is being disloyal to the state is in a sense marginal

Editorial February 17, 2018

The ongoing struggle between ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif and the Superior Judiciary is deeply unedifying and getting more so almost by the day. An aggrieved and bitter politician is attempting to stamp his impunity on the rule of law, and ensure his own reinstatement at the head of the party that still bears his imprimatur. Mr Sharif clearly regards PM Abbasi as a puppet and Mr Abbasi equally clearly regards Mr Sharif as ‘his Prime Minister’. This is no kindergarten tiff, with an election ticking towards us and Mr Sharif already having tinkered with primary legislation in order to allow him to lead the PML-N into the election, his disparagement of the apex judiciary is at best unbecoming, at worst unconstitutional.

On that subject the Supreme Court judge Justice Ijazul Ahsan observed that attacking the courts is tantamount to attacking the constitution. He was hearing political parties’ petitions against the Election Act of 2017 whilst the bench considered the consequences of anti-judiciary remarks made by Mr Sharif and his political associates, and whether, and this crucially, a person who had ridiculed the judiciary can take over as the head of their party. The bench is consistently of the view that abuse or ridicule of the judiciary conflicts with Article 5 of the constitution.

The legal point of whether Mr Sharif is being disloyal to the state is in a sense marginal, and his energies would be better spent girding up his loins for an active and committed election campaign that reaches out to an electorate that are long-jaded by the Panama Papers affair and its political fallout. There is no substantive threat to the current system of elective feudalism as so pointedly illustrated by the Lodhran by-election. It would be better by far if Mr Sharif gathered up his wounded pride and took himself off for a little quiet reflection on the virtues of humility and respect for the rule of law. We recognise this to be unlikely but worthy of mention nonetheless. In the vernacular of today this is known as ‘adulting’, a quality largely absent in our political firmament.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 17th, 2018.

Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.


Salman | 6 years ago | Reply @PrakashG: For the record, the current PM and the foreign minister have both said on the record there is no conspiracy, so I wonder where you get some truth from?
PrakashG | 6 years ago | Reply There is some truth in NS's view that the judiciary, with its bent-past, is acting on behalf of forces trying to subvert democracy in Pakistan. The Lodhran verdict has shown that people also want to establish the primacy of electoral verdict, and do not want their democratic rights to be hijacked by institutions pursuing their own agenda.
Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ