Dawn News

March, 30 2015
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The way forward

A local newspaper featuring a photo of Yousuf Raza Gilani on the front page, is displayed on a tree for sale by a vendor.—AP Photo
A local newspaper featuring a photo of Yousuf Raza Gilani on the front page, is displayed on a tree for sale by a vendor.—AP Photo

PAKISTAN no longer has a chief executive, and the most urgent issue now is to have one in place as soon as possible and reactivate the cabinet. Aside from the legal and constitutional vacuum created by a missing prime minister, this is not a country that can afford to muddle along without a set of people monitoring it constantly. Accepting the Supreme Court’s judgment, having Mr Gilani step down quickly and calling a National Assembly session for Friday were the right steps for the ruling coalition to take, paving the way for quickly putting a new government in place.

But the matter doesn’t end there. The new executive then needs to focus on whatever governance is possible over the next few months. Disturbing as it has been to watch the judiciary unseat an elected prime minister, the reaction to this development should be a sobering moment for the ruling coalition. The bad-to-worse trajectory of the country over the last four years has meant the man on the street was more than happy to see the prime minister go. Bad governance is not, of course, any justification for disqualification by the judiciary, nor was it made out to be — that is a judgment that can only be made in the people’s court. Which is all the more reason the country’s reaction is a warning to the ruling coalition that if it manages to spend the next few months in power, it will need to do whatever it can to at least try to improve the state of the nation. Playing the martyrdom or victim card will only go so far in the face of problems that range from loadshedding and economic mismanagement to poor law and order and limited success in counterterrorism.

Overshadowing all of this is the question of whether the SC will give the new prime minister a chance. This will not be easy to do, given how far the judiciary pursued the matter of the letter to the Swiss authorities during Mr Gilani’s tenure. But it is also important for the SC to consider what going after the issue again will realistically achieve. Institutional and legal concerns have their place, but should not be focused on to the exclusion of the country’s broader needs at a given time, in this case political stability and the need to strengthen the democratic process. At this point, so close to the end of the election cycle, it is best to let the people themselves determine whether or not the ruling coalition deserves to continue in office.


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Comments (19) Closed



ASA
Jun 21, 2012 01:19pm
Whats sort of "democracy" allows a convicted PM to continue in office. Maybe the Ex PM should have realised that in front of the law a PM is no different from a peon. Gillanis's arrogance lead to his own downfall. A country where a PM can willfully ignore the order of a supreme court cannot be considered to be democratic.
Shumaila
Jun 21, 2012 01:08pm
Paki people need to be guided first how to appropriately use their right of vote, then to let them make their decisions on their own so, they may be able to make better decisions for their future. It's unfair to leave an untrained nation on it's fate so, they use their right of vote or any other right in a way that they may be easily blamed for making wrong decisions or such decisions which give corrupt rulers the chance to fool them repeatedly.
Ather
Jun 23, 2012 04:38pm
The president has immunity because otherwise there would be a dozen petitions(right or wrong) against him daily in the various courts across the country and all the president (any president, not this one particularly) will be able to do is run around to attend the courts.
Democracy wins
Jun 21, 2012 02:22pm
This is how democracy plays out, there's nothing wrong with it. A supreme court taking out a PM who was convicted shows the institutions are butting their heads. Finishing 5 years terms is not the goal of democracy, strengthening the status of institutions (executive, judiciary and parliament) are. Let this troublesome period continue for another 15 years (without some sort of intervention: read Army) and the leaders this country so desparately needs will emerge from within.
Ali
Jun 21, 2012 08:45pm
My view of the whole situation is based on accountability for one's deeds. Many mistakes have been made, including those by the judiciary. The judiciary's focus is entirely misplaced and they have lost my respect they gained after standing up to Musharraf. The judiciary should put a higher focus on reducing their caseload through efficient adjudication of cases affecting common people. Justice delayed for the common man is indeed justice denied. The root cause is the constitution itself that... at least from what I understand... provides the president immunity from prosecution. Why should the president have immunity from prosecution for real of alleged crimes? On another note, clearly our constitution is in conflict with Islamic principles of justice which say that no one should have immunity based on their position. If anything the Islamic principles of justice demand that the head of state or people in positions of authority bear greater responsibiilties and accountability for their actions.
Malak Ghulam
Jun 21, 2012 03:56pm
This is all DRAMA, DRAMA and More Drama. I need your (Editorial at DAWN) help and assistance. We have had more than SIXTY years of Independence. Please tell me tell the Citizens of Pakistan what has worked. Lets all go to the WALL OF KNOWLEDGE and use the BEST PRACTICES to find a Best Way for Governance. Democracy has not served the Citizens well. It has made the Leadership Very RICH indeeded. So lets pull out our Thinking Caps and find a solution for our Future Generation. May ALLAH help us all. AMEEN.
Iftikhar Husain
Jun 21, 2012 10:53am
It shows that nobody is above the law. To write aletter to the Swiss authority could saved the situation But the one man show must end. It seems Pakistan politics has gone used with this system.This system must change so thatthe country can progress.
raika45
Jun 21, 2012 12:55pm
Leaders of a nation must not only be "clean' but also to be seen as such.When suspicion is cast on them, running a country will become a problem.Such people should with no clear consensus for the integrity and honor of the nation should not stand for position.This is the price Pakistan is paying now.One mans folly or adamant cling to power is creating untold problems to your country.The people of Pakistan that have been looking basic peace and happiness for years should not be denied by the greed of a few.That what the corrupt rich are doing to the nation is another story.
NASAH (USA)
Jun 21, 2012 10:09pm
Can you believe in this time and age -- a country surrounded by enemies -- within and without -- in dire economic social and military difficulties -- with infrastructure in shambles -- no electricity -- no water -- no railways -- no airlines running in full capacity -- is 'running' without a Chief Executive -- without a cabinet -- all because of the certain highly irresponsible thoughtless nit picking individuals -- with egos so large they dwarfs the national interest to the size if an ant.
Democracy wins
Jun 21, 2012 02:05pm
This is how democracy plays out, there's nothing wrong with it. A supreme court taking out a PM who was convicted shows the institutions are butting their heads. Finishing 5 years terms is not the goal of democracy, strengthening the status of institutions (executive, judiciary and parliament) are. Let this troublesome period continue for another 15 years (without some sort of intervention: read Army) and the leaders this country so desparately needs will emerge from within.
rizi
Jun 21, 2012 01:55pm
I beg to differ, a crime is a crime, and being convicted means being convicted ............
Mikaheel
Jun 21, 2012 07:42pm
3. Where are the advocates of goodness, fairness and equality for the common man? All I see is politicians making personal, verbal assaults to gain extra votes. For evil to prevail, all it takes is good men to do nothing and here we are! With Pakistan's tarnished reputation of nepotisim, corruption, terrorisim, under-hand dealings along with the many unfortuante natural disasters etc - surley the national focus should be reviving the economy to pre Asif Zardari levels where Pakistan was internationally perceived as a robust, up and coming developing country instead of playing table tennis politics by filthy rich politicians (imran khan, nawaz sharif etc.)........the politicians are not doing anything for the general public rather they are serving their own interests and on every media platform - you never hear a politician advocating recommended proposals to change the current laws or what he/she would do upon winning the general election. I whole-heartdley endorse a 'pakistani spring' much like that of our other muslim countries in the Middle-east in order for real democracy to prevail and not just to be a word for the international community - and @Shumila - I coudnt agree more!
Mikaheel
Jun 21, 2012 07:40pm
As a britsh Pakistani born in the UK and being familiar to the UK judicial and legislative procedures, I cannot comprehend the acceptance by the Pakistani public and media outlets to the contradictory affairs related to Mr Gillani's departure. Three questions arise in this matter: 1. How can Asif Zardari still be in post when his subordinate has been sacked for refusing to pursue a corruption case against Asif Zardari? Surely in the interest of state fairness, Asif Zardari should have been suspended by his party upon the supreme court's decision against Mr Gillani or at the very least; a state enquiry be commissioned by the court? 2. In light of Chief Justice Ifitkhar Chaudary's (CJIC) recent events (son being accused of corruption), is CJIC the best person to hear such hearings related to corruption? The unwritten rules of national interest dictates that an independant judge with relevant experience should be assigned this case rather than an ambigious, compromised judge.
Razzaq
Jun 21, 2012 06:52pm
To me this is not going to change the fate of the people.this is nothing but a dirty filthy power struggle.
shankar
Jun 21, 2012 06:03am
Whosover is elected as the new PM, I am sure the Sc will go after him as well. It is better to leave this post unfulfilled or get a collegium of ministers to fulfil this role.
man mohan kapur
Jun 21, 2012 06:36am
You are absolutely right - the administrative and political vaccuum must be filled quickly. This is what happens when institutions of state clash, yield to advance personal interest, holding it above the national interest. Institutions of state must act in the national interest.
Toti27
Jun 21, 2012 07:25am
I second your suggestion. it is best to let the people themselves determine whether or not the ruling coalition deserves to continue in office. I think dismissing a PM elected unanimously needed a graver criminal case and not the one honor of the court.
john
Jun 22, 2012 12:00am
u make no sense
Yemeen Zuberi
Jun 22, 2012 12:04am
You are right Shumaila. The nation, as I think, is untrained because the military people did not let people take part in politics. In other words an elder brother rides the bicycle most of the time while training younger how to ride the bike; so the younger one is deprived of all the chances of learning. On the other hand our political leaders have failed to cultivate genuine public support because of ambiguities and unanswered questions about them. It is about a funny bus but explains the Pakistani situation well, "na engine ki khobi na kamalai driver - khuda ke saharai chalee ja rahee hai."