With NRO beneficiaries disregarding a call that they step down voluntarily, the prime minister has said they will be sacked. This will not include the president, who Yousaf Raza Gilani once more emphasised enjoyed immunity under the Constitution. He has also made it clear the government sees the Swiss cases as a relic of the past. The prime minister’s comment on how only parliament, and not the Supreme Court, could change the Constitution is obviously extremely significant at the present moment. Indeed it is vital we adhere to the provisions of the nation’s supreme law and the limits it places on the powers of the various institutions. It is essential that these bodies are able to work together if the ship of state is to sail smoothly on without running into rough seas. The only way to do this is to follow the law and make no attempt to tamper with its provisions for the sake of convenience.
Gilani also spoke about the need to avoid such a tempest and stressed that he would do all he personally could to protect democracy. We must hope he can succeed. The prime minister’s warning about how democracy, media freedom and a great deal else would suffer should any force march in through the back door is an important one. We hope it will be taken seriously by everyone — particularly those who seem ready to roll out the red carpet for those seeking to unseat the government.
The indications that the government may be prepared to sack some 70 NRO beneficiaries, some of them from key positions, marks an important step forward. The decision is a wise one and would certainly serve the purpose of implementing court orders in this regard. It is after all principle that matters and not individuals. The prime minister has spoken with considerable wisdom. Change for the sake of change hardly ever serves a purpose. We must now hope that those who have spoken so often of their commitment to democracy will do all they can to defend it at this moment of reckoning. If they fail we will know who to blame for any new misfortune that overtakes us.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2010.
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