AS the Supreme Court continues to hear the case about the ruling of the deputy speaker of the National Assembly invalidating the vote of no-confidence against Prime Minister Imran Khan, it is becoming clear that time is of the essence. With the hours slipping by, the PM is carving out his own version of reality by rushing the process of the formation and installation of a caretaker government.

The court has correctly said that this formation is dependent on its own judgement, but many fear that the longer the hearings, the harder it may become to address a situation where political divisions are growing by the minute. Several legal experts have noted that for all practical purposes, what happened in parliament last Sunday was an open-and-shut case. The deputy speaker, and through him the government, brazenly defied the Constitution. To rub salt in the nation’s wounds, the PTI and its supporters are now celebrating what can only be termed a travesty.

Read: The Speaker versus the Constitution

No democratic nation worth its name would tolerate such egregious mockery of its Constitution. What adds insult to injury is the spin given by the PTI to the diplomatic correspondence in order to conjure up a grand conspiracy theory to feed its political narrative.

It would be hard to believe that any politician, let alone a prime minister, would resort to such irresponsible tactics knowing full well the damage this would do to interstate relationships, foreign policy and above all, the constitutional framework upon which the edifice of our republic is built.

Read: Subverting or denying a vote of no-confidence amounts to constitutional fraud

Yet, this is exactly what has transpired, triggering a crisis that has been deliberately manufactured to produce desired political outcomes. As a result, the country is being made to debate a crisis that should not have been created in the first place. It is difficult to disagree that a constitutional violation has been committed, howsoever PM Khan and his supporters try to dress it up in conspiratorial robes. To many, the solution is as clear as the violation itself. The deputy speaker’s ruling, they say, must be reversed, as there is no space for ifs or buts, or even quasi reliefs that apportion blame across a wide spectrum, thereby diluting it for reasons more political than legal.

The time for prudence passed the moment the deputy speaker violated the Constitution. We can only agree that the reversal of this violation must be as unambiguous and comprehensive as the act itself and that those who violate a document on which rests the sanctity of Pakistani democracy must be made to understand that no one can defile the Constitution and get away with it. This is why the confusion over the contents of the diplomatic cable should also be cleared and the military authorities respond to the opposition’s queries. The earlier the system autocorrects this abrasion, the better it is for Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2022

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