The mess in Punjab

Province to see another CM’s election, which means six months without a government

Punjab continues to remain unstable, and though it apparently possesses all the constitutionally mandated institutions, it lacks a permanent government even though months have now passed since the resignation of the PTi’s government under Usman Buzdar. Even though his successor was elected, because PTI MPAs voted for him, the PTI members voting for him having been disqualified, a fresh election has been ordered for July 22, when the July 17 by-elections of the seats vacated will have taken place. Presumably that election will not be marred by the sort of attacks on the Chair that were seen that time. At the same time, it is to be hoped that the refusal of the Governor to take oath from the CM-elect, will not be seen this time, whatever the result.

At the same time, the latest Supreme Court judgement should give no party cause for celebration, because it reflects a tilt in the trichotomy of powers away from the legislature and towards the judiciary. Where the judiciary was once criticised for interfering in the work of the executive, it is now in the invidious position of having to decide exactly how the legislature throws up an executive. In Punjab, it seems the Assembly Speaker’s own candidacy for the chief ministership seems to have created a vacuum which was first filled by the Lahore High Court, and then by the Supreme Court.

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It is perhaps too much to expect a political party to go where it perceives an advantage. The PTI seems to have assumed that the judiciary favours it, and therefore it tries to seek advantage by going to tne courts. The judiciary must ensure that its decisions are so clearly based on the law and Constitution that any unfortunate assumptions about it are removed. The courts should be approached only when one party perceives an injustice as having been committed, not in the hope of obtaining a partisan advantage that way. That matters which should have been settled in the precincts of the Punjab Assembly, had to go to the Supreme Court, and that too on appeal, is unfortunate, when it seems that all the Court really did was to get the parties to make an agreement with each other, and then affix its sort of Seal of Good Housekeeping upon it.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected].

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