ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed on Thursday said governance in the country had become too complicated and was not being handled in the spirit it was supposed to be.
“The capacity to enforce rights of the citizens is not growing [and] as a result the hapless people of this country are facing typical problems and their fundamental rights are being violated with impunity,” regretted the CJP while speaking at the book launching ceremony of “Reading The Constitution of Pakistan — Article wise discussion, fair comments on case, law and the history”. Spanning over six volumes and 5,000 pages, the book has been authored by former Lahore High Court judge Syed Shabbar Raza Rizvi.
A number of Supreme Court judges, former CJP Asif Saeed Khosa, Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan, former chairman of Senate Wasim Sajjad, former law minister Dr Khalid Ranjha and ambassadors of different countries attended the ceremony held at the auditorium of the Supreme Court.
The CJP regretted that the governance had been beset with such a situation that petty issues often landed at the courts in the shape of petitions.
Says consequently courts are being burdened with petitions on small things
Even small things, supposed to be handled by the government having a large number of workforce by ensuring delivery to the people at their doorstep, were not being done, the chief justice bemoaned. He said small matters like cleaning of roads, lifting of garbage, maintaining parks and open spaces, provision of playgrounds and ensuring construction in accordance with bylaws were prime and basic functions of the government, but these basic issues were not being attended to.
As a result, the courts were being burdened with small things and consequently had to enforce the rights which the citizens were entitled to through judgements and declarations, the chief justice observed.
He urged the rulers to take notice of what was happening all around them and ensure that the constitution was enforced in all facets of public life.
Under the constitution, he said, the judiciary had been bestowed upon the task to ensure that the constitution was applied and enforced in true spirit.
Earlier, Justice Khosa recalled that Pakistan used to be very prosperous, peaceful with powerful society but was now afflicted with hunger and insecurity “only because we have failed to express gratitude for the bounties bestowed upon us by Allah Almighty”.
Justice Khosa urged the wise people of society to roll their heads and ponder whether they as a nation had been ungrateful.
He enlisted five issues confronting the nation and said unless these were identified and a solution was discovered, the country would continue to face insecurity. “For this we have to catch the bull by the horn.”
He said they had to decide forever what was the role of the state in Islamic dispensation and where they had to place Islam in the constitutional dispensation and the governance paradigm.
Citing the examples of different Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Turkey and Indonesia, Justice Khosa emphasised” “We have to determine once for all what model we have to adopt otherwise we would remain adrift rudderless.
“We also have to decide what interpretation of Islam to choose since people belonging to several sects are living in Pakistan,” he said adding unless they decided what would be their Islam, the adjudicatory forums could never be able to decide on Shariah matters.
Justice Khosa then said they also need to decide whether the primacy of the constitution was absolute or not, recalling that they had tinkered with the constitution through a number of experiments like presidential form of government, parliamentary form of government, One Unit etc.
“Is our constitution supreme,” Justice Khosa wondered. “Do we have confidence in our self, our culture and system or we have to remain under the influence of models like US, British, Saudi Arabia, Madina ki Riyasat and now Chinese model.”
Justice Khosa emphasised that Article 5 of the Constitution which demanded loyalty to the state had always been exploited by the unrepresented forces by justifying the abrogation of the constitution while stating the state had to be safeguarded first. “This concept always gives birth to the doctrine of necessity,” he said adding the constitution and the state were intertwined and the state could not be safe if the constitution was abrogated.
Justice Khosa then cited the third point about democracy and accountability. He said whenever a new government came, it hurled heaps of allegations against its predecessor but when it came to the appointment of chief election commissioner, NAB chief or caretaker set-up, both the government and the opposition selected the appointees.
“It appears to be something not proper,” Justice Khosa said adding in the presence of such allegations how the people could trust judgements jointly made by ruling and opposition parties.
He said the biggest hurdle that was obstructing development was the mindset since “our loyalty was towards our clan or tribe than the state. Such tendencies are now even creeping up in different institutions including the legal fraternity which often goes on strike every now and then. Likewise, we also have to take care about our economic sovereignty.”
Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2022