The need to reset national agenda

The trust of the public in all state institutions is at its lowest

Irfan Larik April 12, 2024
The writer is an Edmonton-based Higher Education Administration Professional

The letter written by six Islamabad High Court judges to the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) alleging interference of intelligence agencies in judicial matters is a serious issue in relation to the independence of judiciary.

Invisible hands pulling the strings from behind the scenes in every business of the state of Pakistan is an open secret. The history of our country over the past 76 years attests to this sad fact of our national life.

Given the past precedents, there is little possibility that the issue raised by the honourable IHC judges in their letter will ever be fully investigated. Although the CJP has formed a seven-member bench to hear the judges’ complaints, nothing much can be expected. It will, at best, be an exercise in academic judicial discussion.

The fact is that like every other civilian state institution in the country, the judiciary in general has more often than not allowed itself to be manipulated and has, in the process, lost its freedom as well as its credibility in the eyes of the public. 

The multi-dimensional crisis prevailing in the country has much to do with the oversized involvement of the powers-that-be in the affairs of the state. The idea of security state has overshadowed every other matter of collective national importance.

There can be no two opinions that Pakistan, like any other nation in the modern world, needs strong and professional armed forces to both secure our borders and preserve our national sovereignty. However, problems arise when we prioritise just one thing at the expense of everything else. It goes without saying that this perpetual one-point focus has not served the nation well in the context of social, political, economic and cultural progress. 

However, rather than going into the hows and whys of our national rot over the 76 years of our existence, it’s better to discuss how to come out of this deep quagmire of woes and miseries.

The only reasonable way forward is for all the stakeholders in the system to go into a huddle, take stock of the prevailing crises and come up with viable and practical solutions to address the situation that threatens our very survival. No single institution, no matter how powerful or strategically important, can alone address the complex political, social and economic problems confronting the nation.

The trust of the public in all state institutions is at its lowest. The clash-like situation among the institutions has already done us a serious damage. The failed experiments of political engineering make it pretty clear that the political process has not been allowed to grow organically from the bottom up. The representative democracy may not be the panacea for all our problems and is not without its inherent shortcomings, but there is no other better alternative available. 

A grand national dialogue involving all stakeholders is the need of the hour. The perpetual political instability and infighting among the institutions need to give way to a broader dialogue aimed at learning from our past mistakes and carving out a path for national integration. The path ahead will not be easy but persisting with the status quo, marked by lack of trust and divisions in the national setting, will prove far deadlier.

The simple solution lies in following the Constitution in letter and spirit. Every institution needs to work within its constitutionally defined domain. All successful states and societies have followed this path and reached unprecedented levels of political, social and economic progress. There is no reason to doubt that we as a nation can also realise those goals. It is a real test of capacity and character of the current leadership of the country. Let’s hope they will pay heed to the lesson of history and collectively make the right choices and take the right decisions.


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