Pakistan: Misleading Precedents And A Good Precedent – OpEd
Is the constitution subordinate to people or people are? Is law equal for all? Will everyone take the law in hand once arrested or FIR is logged? Wrong precedents are being set. The project has failed with a bang but still, we do not learn from history. There are bigwigs in institutions who are supporting Imran Khan. The cause might not be Khan’s charisma but ought to be the internal rivalry of bigwigs with some traditional politicians.
Every citizen is equal before the law. Article 25 (1) says about the equality of citizens before the law and states that all citizens are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection of the law. When an FIR is lodged and unbailable Warrants are issued then there are two ways either to surrender or go for legal proceedings in the same or in a higher court to halt unbailable warrants and arrest and get bail.
Unfortunately, the situation of cases with the specific person is unique. When unbailable Warrants were issued he resisted and made his supporters as a shield who attacked law enforcement agencies who had come to arrest the ex-prime minister. At the same time, the situation is different for the common citizens. They have to surrender by hook or by crook if unbailable warrants are issued. No one can even not think of resistance.
The country is in the clinches of multidimensional crises. At a time when terrorism is again cementing its feet, when the economy is on the verge of decline when social insecurity has increased, when the dragoon of climate change has penetrated the house, and when the gloomy state of affairs of healthcare, education, poverty, unemployment, etc. are wreaking havoc with the foundation of the state the institutional imbalance and tussle among the trichotomy is providing fuel to the already inflamed fire. This tug of war has affected the judicial system too where due to lack of judges in the upper and lower judiciary and focusing on political cases have been delaying the pending cases of the common citizens further which have already crossed millions.
As per statistics of the official website of the supreme court of Pakistan that asserts that a total of 24,303 cases were decided during the period from 2nd Feb 2022 to 25th Feb 2023 against the total institution of 22,018 new cases during the said period. The pendency/backlog of cases in the Supreme Court of Pakistan has thereby been reduced by 2,285 cases from 54,735 to 52,450.
While the News reports in its December 2022 edition that 1,005 posts of judges are vacant in the upper and lower judiciary.
It is cheerless to mention that this sorry state of affairs has reached the corridor of the honorable courts. The respected judges have been divided over many issues which were ignited by the PTI leadership. The tussle has been affecting the proceedings too where much time is being mobilized for specific cases related to the ex-prime minister and other political issues. The scuffle over the appointment of honorable judges has been further hampering the judicial system.
The constitution of Pakistan empowers the honorable chief justice of supreme and high courts to form benches and include judges. The constitution further envisages that the cases in the benches must be decided on the opinions of the majority of the judges. At the same time, dissent has been vital and it has been the sole right of any judge to have a diverse opinion in a case. Including dissenters on benches on one side diminishes reservations, enhances public trust, and on the flip side, it proves fruitful in the unity of the honorable judges.
A disastrous precedent is being set that will have long-lasting implications on the Judicial and political systems of the country. Both Punjab and the KPK assemblies were dissolved simultaneously on January 14 and January 18. But, the date for elections in Punjab has been given while the KPK elections are still pending.
In its 4 April ruling the supreme court of Pakistan ordered conducting polls for the provincial assembly of Punjab and put the KPK elections on a back burner. At the same time, Article 224 stipulates that elections should be held within 90 days after the dissolution of assemblies. When both assemblies were dissolved on the same grounds and the case was put before the honorable judges then conducting elections in only one province and setting aside conducting elections in the other province makes no sense.
History testifies that prison has been the second home of politicians across the world. They sacrifice for the common masses but do not hesitate or take laws into their own hands by rejecting to go behind bars. Not to talk of the history of Pakistani politicians who were behind bars for decades, history puts and salutes Nelson Mandela who was behind bars for almost three decades. He neither stammered nor defied the laws by inflaming the sentiments of his followers to stand against state authority. At the same time, when the PTI was in power, it used the state against its rivals as a political vendetta.
Imran Khan has been alleging a serving officer for his assassination attempts. In the presence of the constitution and legal process, he should have approached the competent authorities rather than naming names on social media. It does not make sense. Such type of immature attitude and nonsense cannot be expected from a former prime minister. Lo and behold. Chaudhry Pervez Elahi who was the then chief minister of Punjab in which an assassination attempt was tried against Imran Khan says that he had struck down the name of the officer from the FIR. Despite asking from Chaudhry Pervez Elahi he is again started allegations. Ironically, Chaudhry Pervez Elahi merged his party into the PTI and Imran Khan designated him as the president of the PTI. Hypocrisy.
Analysts agree that the current anger and tirade of Imran Khan is the continuation of his prolonged struggle to stop the incumbent COAS from leading the Army. Once, the current COAS took the armed stick in his hand to lead the army, Imran Khan again started to pressurize the institution. When he failed in his plan, he then started imploring for one meeting with the COAS which Imran Khan had wished in a statement that the COAS does not want to meet him.
Propaganda and misleading the common citizens are at their peak. The PTI is aware of using propaganda techniques through social media. True that the ex-COAS had said that he had fully supported the government of the PTI but at the same time the assertion of Imran Khan does not make sense that he dissolved Punjab and the KPK assemblies and resigned from the national assembly on the advice of ex COAS. For a politician who has decades of experience in politics, who has seasoned politicians in the party expecting such decisions and being misled by an officer does not make sense. Many PTI politicians have been saying that we had suggested Imran Khan not to dissolve assemblies and resign but he did not pay attention to it.
Lo and behold. When Imran settled an anti-American narrative on the fake Cypher controversy, he had been expecting that once he dissolves assemblies his party will be in a position to sweep the elections. This reflects that he dissolved assemblies as a political gimmick to take the lead in the elections of provincial assemblies and then form PTI-led governments in both provinces. Merely, alleging the ex-COAS for the dissolution of assemblies does not make sense.
Look at the hypocrisy and insanity. The PTI resigned from the national assembly of Pakistan. When the speaker of the national assembly accepted the resignations of some MNAs, then the election commission of Pakistan announced re-elections for the de-seated MNAs. Again, the PTI contested elections on those seats. Foolishly, when the speaker again accepted the resignations of some more MNAs of the PTI, the party filed a petition in Islamabad high court and requested the speaker’s national assembly not to accept the rest of the resignations. This testifies that the policies of the PTI are clueless and rudderless. Blaming other is easy but ignoring the facts are hard to swallow.
A very dangerous precedent that was set that could halt national unity by the chairman of the PTI is the deployment of the police from Gilgit Baltistan in the resistance of Imran Khan in Lahore unconstitutionally and without the approval of the government of Pakistan. The forces from Gilgit Baltistan and Punjab Police came nose to nose when Imran Khan resisted surrendering before the law with an unbailable Warrant.
Attacking the Corps commander’s house and entering into the GHQ and cantonments, abusing and chanting slogans against the institutions and officers by the PTI workers who were ignited by the PTI leaders as we heard from their audio leaks is another sad precedent which the PTI leadership is setting. Sensibly, the security forces deserve appreciation who remained calm and showing forbearance by not using force. Otherwise, the situation could be more devastated which suited and had been planned by the PTI leadership. Waging a war against the state, burning, looting, plundering, and invading state assets by inciting mobs to violence have never been supported by democratic norms and values. These resemble fascism. Sadly, Imran Khan is doing so to maintain pressure and his popularity by using putschists.
A good and plausible precedent is that the spokesman of ISPR has declared that no martial law will be imposed. This speaks volumes of the respect of the institution for democracy.
There is always a blessing in disguise. This mishap should be a litmus case for all the institutions specifically for the politicians that political matters must be resolved through dialogue which is the soul of democracy. A real political leader and Democratic party always pave the way for peace and stability in the country rather than inciting its workers for anarchy, chaos, and challenging the writ of the state. In the 21st century, and for a country like ours which is already mired in multidimensional national and international challenges such types of incidents for political gimmicks do not make sense. Rule of law must prevail and the true implementation of the concept of trichotomy is the need of the hour. If we want to pull the boat from the whirlpool, such tricks do not fit in the scenario. Sane voices must pay attention to it.