In a frenzy of political maneuvering in Islamabad today, Pakistan is yet again precariously positioned in yet again another stand off. Today the President of Pakistan chose to elevate the chief justice of the Lahore High Court (LHC) Justice Khwaja Sharif as a judge of the Supreme Court. The decision was taken and official notification issued without any consultation with Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, prompting him to take a suo motu notice of the judges’ appointment.
This stand-off happened more in the form of a tit-for-tat snub reaction by the President of Pakistan to the Chief Justice of Pakistan. It was in the same token, approximately three weeks back the CJP Iftikhar Chaudhry tried to appoint Justice Ramday as an ad hoc judge to the Supreme Court but then the President had snubbed this appointment and rejected the request quoting seniority issues. So today when the President tried to elevate a Lahore High Court judge into the Supreme Court, CJP Iftikhar Chaudhry reacted to quickly create a three-member bench and it in turn struck down the order declaring it null and void. Its scary to even begin to imagine that in such a stand-off situation we probably might never have any more judicial appointments as one or the other executive appointed with Pakistan will end up striking it down.
It is my understanding, that Mr. Zardari must have known exactly how the CJP would react to this judges notification and hence to instigate a reaction by directly appointing a Supreme Court judge without so much as a courtesy of having the name approved by the CJP, it was as if, he deliberately wanted to irk the CJP. Was it merely to snub him back in revenge for what had happened three weeks back? or was it just to take a swing at the Supreme Court with the hope that he might get lucky and in turn be prepared for the NRO case. Zardari has this zero-sum game planned into a long term strategy, he naturally does not see immediate gains but has invested enough into the “future” that he might be able to use this (or other) events as a trump card.