After the breakdown

No one has announced that the talks have broken down, but that’s how everyone’s behaving

It seems that even the last hope held out for a break in th deadlock over the election date is now ended, with the Election Commission of Pakistan having told the Supreme Court that the Rs 21 billion it had demanded had not been transferred to it by the federal government, and the armed forces not having moved from ts previous position that th security situation did not allow it to comply with the ECP’s  demand for security personnel to provide it enough security to conduct tthe election. The ECP’s expression of inability to meet the May 14 deadline was accompanied by the National Assembly’s refusal to provide the Supreme Court the record it had asked for, related to the passage of the Supreme Court (Custom and Practices) Bill. Unless there is an unconditional surrender by one side, it seems that the country is in for more harrowed nerves and court battles.

The establishment has not been able to avoid the effects of what started with the PTI being brought to power in 2018, the runaround the economy got, and then the toppling of that government. There are still doubts over the neutrality of one section, but the judiciary has taken a series of actions which has left it liable to accusations of favouring the PTI.T^rue, the most common accusation against a court when its decision goes against one, is that the judges are prejudiced, but if the decisions by the Supreme Court have created the impression that that prejudice exists. It is unfortunate that the Supreme Court has allowed that impression to be created, that it is not interpreting the law and the Constitution, but is finding ways to help the PTI. Perhaps the most unfortunate fall-out of the present case is the impression that the Supreme Court wants elections on May 14, not because of the constitutional mandate of 90 days, but because early elections suit the PTI.

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One result is that the Supreme Court will not have its orders obeyed. That should be unthinkable, and forces all citizens to consider whether they are any more living in a law-abiding society any more, where Court warrants are defied (as the recent Zaman Park drama showed), where the Supreme Court is set at naught. There may be legal grounds for doing so, but what sort of comment is it on the polity we are developing?

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


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