Better sense prevails

Those who were waiting with bated breath to witness a showdown between the executive and the judiciary on May 25 were in for a disappointment. Law Minister Babar Awan appeared before a five-member Supreme Court bench that is overseeing the implementation of the NRO judgement. Mr Awan informed the bench that there has never been any case against President Zardari or late Benazir Bhutto in the Swiss courts. He informed the apex court that only investigations were conducted in a Swiss court against the president but there was “absolutely no case” against him. As for approaching the Swiss authorities, Mr Awan said there are “grey areas and legal intricacies” involved. What came as a surprise for everyone was the revelation that the bench had never summoned the law minister in the first place. The Supreme Court directed Mr Awan to submit a report within two weeks on the steps taken by the government to implement the NRO verdict. So, what could be the reason for this soft approach despite what the doomsayers have been predicting thus far? Whatever the reasons, it is good to see that the judiciary is trying to avoid a confrontation with the executive. And to finally see the government presenting its case in a proper manner also comes as a relief. This newspaper has been advising the government to do so for months now. But as they say, ‘better late than never’. It has done the government’s cause a lot of good while those who claimed that the judiciary had a hostile attitude to the government have been proved wrong. The government has made a sensible move while the judiciary too is working within the parameters of the constitution and within the law as had been promised by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. The judiciary’s decisions will be based on merit instead of mere hearsay, which is what is expected of an independent judiciary.

Pakistan is slowly but steadily trying to move towards a truly democratic system. A confrontation between two of the country’s most important institutions would only have hampered the system. Such a situation would only benefit the undemocratic forces; the whole nation would have suffered had the government locked horns with the judiciary or vice versa. Pakistan has fought long and hard for a return to democracy. We can ill afford another military coup or a toppling of the democratic set-up.

At a time when the government has ensured its full cooperation to the judiciary, Mian Nawaz Sharif’s press conference against the executive was a bit unsettling. Mr Sharif said that the government must ensure implementation of the decisions of the Supreme Court in letter and spirit and give up its policy of defiance. It would have helped if Mr Sharif had paid a bit more attention to the proceedings of the Supreme Court before going out on a PPP-bashing spree. The government has already assured its full support to the judiciary but instead of heaving a sigh of relief at the smooth proceedings like the general public did, Mian sahib looked perturbed at the unfolding events. Though Mr Sharif swears by democracy, his anti-government statements said otherwise.

It must be said once again that such moves would only be harmful and deleterious to the state. In the interests of the country and its people, we must stand by the age-old democratic principles and stop playing politics with the fate of Pakistan.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

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