And who will whisper in his ear?
Civilian dictatorship, Bonapartism and praetorian political adventurism legitimised by the court and political leaders that joined the bandwagons of military dictators have indeed been the bane of this nation ever since its inception. In the past, internecine conflicts between the political parties and launching of movements against the elected governments had provided opportunity to praetorians or to the president under 58-2 (b). Chairman Senate Raza Rabbani, HR activist Asma Jahangir and a few others have opposed the verdict by the 5-member Supreme Court Bench disqualifying Nawaz Sharif under article 62. They also criticise appointment of a judge to monitor the process, stating that judiciary has overstepped its domain. However, the judges in their wisdom took this decision as in the event of leaving it to the government, the verdict of the 5-member bench would meet the same fate as that of the verdict given by the Supreme Court on Asghar Khan case.
In this backdrop, if Supreme Court does not ensure that its verdicts are implemented, who will clean the Augean stables. The problem is that the PPP and PML-N governments did not take steps to change existing accountability framework, which has no credibility at all. On 19th October 2012, Supreme Court of Pakistan had handed down a verdict of the century in the famous Asghar Khan case. An epoch-making ruling it was in every manner, and fully eventful it should have become by carrying to its logical conclusion in line with the roadmap the apex court laid down in its order for execution. The court had ordered legal proceedings against former head of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) General (Retd) Asad Durrani, former army chief General Aslam Baig and Younus Habib of the defunct Mehran Bank. Among others, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was also among the alleged recipients of the money.
However, he vehemently refuted the allegation. The FIA had recorded the statement of the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif in 2015 i.e., three years after the announcement of the decision by the apex court. The review petition filed by Barrister Syed Ali Zafar on behalf of the former army chief had stated that Aslam Beg was not involved in the process of distribution of cash amongst politicians, and that the orders of the president were directly implemented upon by former ISI chief Asad Durrani. But it is equally important that the politicians too should not become part of their political engineering works. Imagine for a moment would there have been an IJI had no politicians had fallen to the bait of the generals engaged in the cobbling up of this entity to influence the 1990 election against the PPP?
Nobody put guns to their heads and bullied them into this adventurist contrivance of the establishment. Some politicians were out there to hop on to the IJI bandwagon willingly and volitionally. If indeed a politician is so weak-willed as to easily succumb to any coercive pressures, he verily is not fit to be a leader. And if he gets tempted or enticed by the allurements of power and pelf, he is bereft of even the probity and integrity that are the essential traits of a true leader. Indeed, our chequered history is replete with Bonapartist and praetorial adventurisms; isn’t it blemished with the ignoble falls of politicians as well? How often have they joined hands with the incoming military rulers to give a civilian face to their regimes? They had celebrated joyously when their political adversaries’ governments were sacked by the authoritative presidents.
The system of electoral democracy empowers the voters to take away the powers of elected members, if they fall short of popular aspirations and or grossly violate fundamental ideology. While the system adequately provides procedure to impeach the public office holders, the elected representatives go scot free. Parliamentarians have an obligation to seriously engage in the process of legislation to end corruption, and also make efforts to resolve the problems faced by the people. To engage in the process of legislation is a sacred cause and entails development of ethical dogma to work tirelessly to improve the lives of people whom the elected members represent. In a society, where feudal culture and outlook pervade; when politicians consider their parties as personal fiefdoms, and the state apparatus fall victim to personal whims of the ruling elite, the people start pinning hopes on anyone who promises to emancipate them from economic misery and want.
In addition to the conflict between the parliament and judiciary, there seems to be uneasiness between the government and the military establishment. In Pakistan the question is often raised whether the military leadership has the right to give its assessment of threats to internal and external security? In the US, Britain and even in India – the largest democracy in the world – political leaderships take decisions on the basis of the information provided by intelligence agencies and advice of military leadership. Former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had in principle agreed to withdraw from Siachen, and agreement to that effect was about to be inked when the army prevailed upon the prime minister and convinced him that India would lose strategic advantage, and Indian forces would be vulnerable if India withdrew from Siachen. Having that said, civil and military leadership and judiciary should work together to overcome the crisis facing the country.