With palpable mala fide moves, the gulf widens even further
With untold embarrassment and setback suffered by botching the entire NATO supply route affair and the patently mala fide intent behind introducing the contempt and the dual nationality bills (the former having been signed into law already), the government seems bent on pushing the country towards further divisiveness. If interpreted in conjunction with the Supreme Court order for the prime minister to submit a compliance report by July 25 in the NRO Implementation Case, things seem headed towards an irreversible intensification of the on-going conflict between the executive and the judiciary.
I have always failed to understand the rationale behind either the closure of the supply route in the wake of the US attack on Salala check-post, or the subsequent involvement of the parliament in devising a 16-point comprehensive charter of terms of engagement with the US/NATO, or the humiliating surrender in the face of the mounting pressure from friends and foes alike. It is as bad as any policy formulation process can be. There was absolutely no reason for having taken the step of closing the NATO supply route in a knee-jerk reaction to the dastardly attack. The inept rulers should have known that such extreme posturing was ill-advised and could not be sustained given Pakistan’s inherent weaknesses and policy contradictions. It has done an irretrievable damage: in one myopic stroke, the government has exposed the hollowness of Pakistan’s policy formulation process and the irrelevance of the principal legislative organ of the state.
As far as the government’s stunted moves to protect the dual-nationality-legislators from being suspended and saving the prime minister from possible contempt, their mala fide intent is enough reason for them to be shot down at the first hearing in any court of law. One understands that petitions to the effect have already been moved before the SC.
The persons holding the US nationality have to renounce their allegiance to any other state in no uncertain terms as a pre-condition to being granted the American citizenship: “I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state of sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen…”. In the case of the UK citizens, they also have to commit allegiance to the queen and her heirs and successors: “I swear by Almighty God that, on becoming a British citizen, I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors according to law…”. This does not leave even a shred of margin for any commitment to any other country that an individual may remain a citizen of. What, then, would be the basis of his or her sitting in the legislative assembly contributing to the formulation of laws of that country or becoming part of its executive to manage its policies? The very idea is ludicrous and against all credible moral and constitutional values. Have we run out of competent and credible people in Pakistan that we have to import them from outside? Keeping in mind the brazen manner in which such dual-nationals looted the country in the past and literally ran away never to come back, what is the manner and level of accountability that such people would be subjected to?
So far as the move to defang the judiciary in the context of contempt of court is concerned, it is an effort by the government to save the sitting prime minister from indictment in the short run and continue with its non-constitutional undertakings including affronting the judicial injunctions in the long run. This is bound to fall for its inherent mala fide intent. For any legislation to hold before the scanning eye of judicial review, it must measure up to the inherent yardstick of transparency. Saving an individual, even the sitting prime minister or a bunch of corrupt governmental cronies cannot, by any stretch of imagination, constitute the basis for any legislation which, after going through due process, would be thrown out. But, in the process, it would cause irreparable damage to the credibility of the legislature which inevitably has been reduced to the status of a stamp-affixer to the evil intentions of the president and his cohorts.
But there is no describing the irretrievable divisiveness that the proposed legislations would cause in the country by pitting one institution against another. The CJ has already warned that no extra-constitutional act will be acceptable and there will only be the supremacy of law and the constitution in the country: “Nothing but rule of law is the solution for Pakistan’s problems”. The government, on the other hand, believes in subjugating the rule of law to its immoral, illegal and unconstitutional pursuits. There is, thus, this vast void that divides the judicial and the governmental perceptions which, apparently, cannot be bridged given the inherent obduracy and failings of the executive.
But there is another aspect that concerns the judiciary more than the government. The inordinate delay to-date in deciding various petitions is contributing to further accentuating this divisiveness together with instilling an enhanced level of frustration with the credibility and the working of various institutions in the country cultivating a perception whether the system allows for any remedial measures at all? This perception, if allowed to fuel any further as existing and ensuing circumstances are likely to contribute to, can cause deep-set disaffection, thus paving the way to a speedier dismantling of the system through a combination of internal and external factors and interventions. I believe that this process is already well underway and may be irreversible as neither a change of intentions on the part of the ruling conglomerate nor any desirable urgency on the part of the institutions that are vested with the authority to undertake such remedial measures are visible.
The writer is a political analyst and a member of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. He can be reached at [email protected]