Avoiding a clash of institutions

After nine years of military dictatorship, we cannot afford to destabilise a democratic government.

Editorial August 17, 2012

Prime Minister Raja Parvaiz Ashraf was directed by the Supreme Court to appear in the Court on August 27 regarding its order in the National Reconciliation Ordinance judgement implementation case. “If the gentleman whom we have issued notice to, and whom we have great respect for due to his office, appears and makes a positive statement, we will certainly accommodate him; and if he fails to do so, then the law will take its course,” said Justice Asif Saeed Khosa. How PM Ashraf will be ‘accommodated’ by the Court is yet to be seen but it is hoped that this time around, a clash between the executive and the judiciary can and will be avoided.

Just a few weeks ago, in an unprecedented move, the Court convicted a democratically-elected prime minister for contempt of court and sent him home. We must not forget that democracy takes a long time to take root and if it is not allowed to function normally, it is bound to be derailed.

After nine years of military dictatorship, we cannot afford to destabilise a democratic government. The judiciary is an integral part of a democratic system and it will only remain independent as long as there is a stable democratic dispensation in place. Our lordships should also take into account how such measures can affect the public perception about the judiciary. This government will complete its tenure after a few months. By acting with some restraint, the judiciary will do democracy a great favour. It will go a long way in strengthening the culture of democracy and reinstating the public’s faith in the electoral process.

The beauty of democracy is that if the public is not satisfied with the incumbents, it can vote them out. In all civilised nations of the world, this is how it pans out. Through the Eighteenth Amendment, Article 58-2(b) was abolished by parliament. Now that the president does not have the power to dissolve the assembly at will, it is hoped that we will not witness any other sword of Damocles to be hanging over parliament’s head. Let democracy take its course.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2012.

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