- Proof of the pudding is in the eating
The opposition and media have repeatedly raised the two issues of one-sided accountability and media curbs that have become particularly glaring during the last one year of the PTI’s rule. There is a widespread perception that NAB is being used precisely for the media trial of the opposition leaders and for keeping them in jail on one pretext or another. What is more, the once vibrant media is now under chains.
The address delivered by the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mr Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, at the opening ceremony of the new judicial year provides encouragement to those affected by the partial and one-sided accountability as well as those struggling against unprecedented restrictions on the media. The CJP has reiterated the commitment of the Bench and Bar to constitutionalism, rule of law and democracy with a promise that any attempt made from any quarter to destroy or damage these ideals and principles or to build inroads into them shall be jointly resisted by the Bench and the Bar. The CJP has also taken note of the growing perception about the ongoing accountability being lopsided and a part of political engineering. He maintains that remedial steps need to be taken urgently so that the process does not lose credibility.
The CJP has also mentioned the voices being raised about the muzzling of the print and electronic media and suppression of dissent. He maintains that the constitutionally guaranteed rights of citizens ought never to be compromised for the sake of short-term political or governance advantages. Democracy requires a long-term approach and tolerance for dissent, and without that the system plunges into authoritarianism and we have witnessed plenty of it in the past with disastrous consequences.
One hopes there will be visible changes as a result of the address, making accountability even-handed and impartial. Further that media freedoms will not be encroached upon. What one fears however is that those who matter might consider the CJP’s remarks as no more than a sermon and continue with their malpractices as before. Will the active judicialism, supposedly more effective than judicial activism, come into play then?