The Free Press Journal - - FRONT PAGE -

If any­one thought that the ju­di­ciary in Pak­istan was in­de­pen­dent, he should think again. It is a hand­maiden of the deep State, that is, of the Rawalpindi-based ca­bal of gen­er­als who vir­tu­ally com­mand it to do its bid­ding. Some years ago, af­ter Pervez Musharrf was vir­tu­ally forced out of the Pres­i­dent’s of­fice by Pak­istan’s Supreme Court, peo­ple had be­gun to ac­cord it re­spect for be­ing bold and free. But it is not. Even at that time, un­known to most peo­ple it merely ful­filled the un­spo­ken wishes of the Rawalpindi GHQ. As it has done now by pro­hibit­ing for­mer prime min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif from hold­ing pub­lic of­fice or con­test­ing elec­tions for life. Judges are be­hav­ing like dic­ta­tors, with­out any con­cern ei­ther for fair­ness or jus­tice. Friv­o­lous grounds were cited to first drive out Sharif from the of­fice of prime min­is­ter a few months. Last week, in its fi­nal or­der the Supreme Court out­right dis­en­fran­chised Sharif, ban­ning him for life from con­test­ing elec­tions and hold­ing any pub­lic of­fice. That the gen­er­als nursed a grudge against Sharif, in­clud­ing, among oth­ers, for his want­ing to take a con­cil­ia­tory ap­proach to­wards In­dia, is a pub­lic secret. In other ways too, Sharif was not al­ways amenable to do the army’s bid­ding, be­ing a pop­u­lar leader who had come to power through the bal­lot-box. But the judges failed to ap­pre­ci­ate that by ban­ning Sharif, they vir­tu­ally struck at the roots of the demo­cratic sys­tem or, rather what­ever passes for it in that coun­try. As the most pop­u­lar leader of the Mus­lim League, Sharif was the right­ful claimant for prime min­is­ter­ship in case ML gained par­lia­men­tary ma­jor­ity. Ju­di­cial in­ter­ven­tion or rather in­ter­fer­ence dis­rupted the pop­u­lar will for rea­sons which are not rooted in jus­tice or eq­uity. Re­ly­ing on a vaguely worded clause in Ar­ti­cle 62 of the Con­sti­tu­tion, a five-judge bench unan­i­mously ruled that it was not for Par­lia­ment to de­cide the length of dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion of an MP found to be in vi­o­la­tion of the stip­u­la­tion re­quir­ing him to be ‘sadiq and ‘ameen’(hon­est and right­eous). The Con­sti­tu­tion did not spec­ify the du­ra­tion of dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion, but the court, in its wis­dom, made it life-time for the three-time prime min­is­ter of Pak­istan. It is an­other mat­ter whether any MP or any­one in the Rawalpindi GHQ or, for that mat­ter, in the higher ju­di­ciary can meet the ‘sadiq and ameen’ test him­self. But, let us not labour the point any more . By do­ing the bid­ding of the gen­er­als and dis­qual­i­fy­ing Sharif for life, the Supreme Court has driven a big nail into the al­ready gasp­ing demo­cratic sys­tem. An hon­est op­tion will be for the gen­er­als to tear the mask and take charge of the coun­try up-front and do away with elec­tions and the façade of an in­de­pen­dent ju­di­ciary.

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