It is no small matter to sack one prime minister after another particularly at a time when there is a widespread concern about the grave challenges facing the country that include a declining economy, power shortages, rising unemployment, militancy, the country’s isolation in the region and a standoff with Washington.
The prime minister is meanwhile required to enter into parleys with the opposition over a consensus caretaker setup for conducting fair and free elections. He cannot play his role effectively if a Damocles’ sword is all the time hanging over his head. A conflict between the Supreme Court on the one hand and the executive and parliament on the other could threaten the system and harm the country.
The Supreme Court relied on the contempt law to unseat Yousaf Raza Gilani setting a new precedent for the removal of a popularly elected Prime Minister. To ensure that the option was not available to the court in the case of Raja Pervez Ashraf, the Parliament passed another contempt law. The new contempt law has been challenged in the apex court which is hearing the case on a day to day basis. While parliament was accused of passing the law hastily, the court seems to be equally in a hurry to undo it.
The Supreme Court bench overseeing the implementation of the NRO verdict has adjourned the hearing till August 8. A crisis has, thus, been temporarily averted. Many had praised the apex court for taking up suo motu cases to undo the wrongs to the common man who continues to suffer due to an unresponsive bureaucracy and an inefficient and corrupt administration. While the court’s intervention benefited a few and even brought a portion of the looted money back to the national exchequer, the system remains as rotten as ever. It is like giving alms to a beggar which consoles the giver without resolving the root cause which is abysmal poverty. A perception is being formed now that the court believes that it has a panacea for every malady in the country. To think that the Constitution has a solution for every problem is to fall victim to a new type of fundamentalist thinking. While the attempts to recover the missing persons in Balochistan were laudable, the roadblocks faced should have convinced the court that authority alone cannot guarantee the resolution of complex social issues. If the idea is to get cases opened against Zardari in the Swiss court, one expects the SC to find a more efficient way of achieving the aim instead of ratcheting up the level of confrontation with the executive and parliament and still fail to achieve the objective.