Guest blog by Barrister Amjad Malik
16 December 2010 Supreme Court order on NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) has shattered the ruling govt which was standing on the 4 pillars of this barter orchestrated by military & Pentagon , USA &UK and (PPP) Pak people party leadership which is clutching and hanging on to a straw now. Instead of whole heartedly, understanding the tenacity of situation and implementing the order by realigning politically based on reality, the leadership went for hit and run ditto of their predecessor General Musharraf who sacked the chief justice who was considering a petition on his Presidential election in military uniform.
Same is the case with PPP govt which is willing to lock horns with the judiciary and is willing to wipe out the whole political democratic dispensation if the buck comes to shove and the issue comes to their govt’s fall. They do not wish to leave as corrupt but be drummed out with a bang as victims and history tells victims reappear in Pakistani politics. Govt is in between rock and a hard place, either to digest, accept and implement the order of 17 superior court judges and sack a few loyalists who are wanted by NAB enquiry or stall the matter, seek refuge under political dispensation and chalk out a settlement with its foes and get the gunners out of the ring, though a wishful thinking devoid of public sentiments.
Chief Justice is losing patience and role of military establishment will be very crucial who will ultimately decide in a situation where court orders are stalled by politicians putting institutions at risk of collapse. People have seen such situations in the past. Vibrant media and pro active judiciary with civil society and loaded lawyers are not going to allow a political slaughter of judiciary especially in a situation where army is stretched and wishes to wait and see from the back room. Public mood will be very important as to which way the tide turns. 18th amendment will give an opportunity of a necessary barter to those who have received a yellow card but still there is no concrete results in the offing and any once issue my act as a stumbling block in the talks and constitutional amendment remains a matter of academic exercise.
Judiciary however, has suffered due to lack of compliance on their orders and no apparent explanation and or reasons and if they remain patient and did not enquire sooner as to steps towards implementation then all orders will start meeting the same fate, non compliance by default.
If judicial decision are delayed in such a way that it frustrate the ultimate goal of justice than that ‘delay means defeating the justice’ and that what exactly is happening in Pakistan. Several petitions are coming before the top judges for action than sombre quietness but I must say that CJ must be mindful as those under his sword may like to offer a sacrifice to his political opponents to effect a settlement and in such a situation one judge may become a victim of circumstances and General Musharraf’s establishment will be very pleased if that stage arrives as they will kill two birds with one stone, revenge and retribution. Time is of the essence and smooth running of the institutions is dependent on fair and impartial judicial decisions, where government is accountable to parliament and good governance remains a hall mark of the executive which is so far missing in this equation.
Whether order of the court is implemented, or political settlement change the goal post before judges strike down the corrupt ministers with the ink of their pen will be seen in a few months but one thing is sure that spectacle will be interesting, and bloody. Stubbornness of some has brought the system to a near collapse and looking at public anger, frustration due to shortage of food, gas and electricity, I think govt is sitting on a pylon where there is a little margin of error between implementation of the order and erecting a timely political settlement through 18th amendment. Any indirect effort to oust the top judge out of the ring will meet with a bad luck and a price so do or die is a must spectacle.
Barrister Amjad Malik is a Chair Association of Pakistani Lawyers (United Kingdom)