Sindh’s denial

Published November 19, 2023

AS if a surreptitious Senate resolution against the Supreme Court’s military trials verdict, passed last week with just six votes, was not enough, some elements, it emerged on Saturday, also planted stories in the media to give their actions an air of legitimacy.

In a shocking development, the caretaker set-up in Sindh — being led by a widely respected retired Supreme Court justice — said it never initiated an appeal against the military courts verdict. “The impression that the Sindh government has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court for the trial of civilians in military courts is baseless,” a statement from CM House clarified.

An informed source in the provincial set-up has revealed that the caretaker chief minister and chief secretary had been in transit when the ‘news’ that they had appealed the verdict was given to the media. By the time they wised up, the caretaker governments at the centre and in Balochistan had also filed similar appeals.

Meanwhile, in the Senate, both the chairman and deputy chairman refused to address the strong objections raised by lawmakers from all three of the country’s biggest political parties against the controversial resolution passed on Monday against the SC’s judgement. Two successive sittings were adjourned on two consecutive days as the two individuals attempted to dodge the angry protestations of senators aghast that the Upper House had been abused in such an obnoxious manner.

The Senate chairman, in particular, has a lot to answer for. It was he who allowed the resolution, which had not been part of Monday’s agenda, to be tabled when a majority of the senators were absent. He not only allowed that, but also put the resolution to a vote before there could be any debate, and then adjourned the sitting within minutes for good measure.

Among all the ignominies the Pakistani state has inflicted upon itself in recent years, this one stands out for its crudeness. Some quarters, clearly unhappy that the Supreme Court disagrees with their views on justice, are ready to go to any extent to have a widely hailed verdict overturned. Their issue with the verdict is that it has barred the military from trying civilians suspected of involvement in the May 9 and 10 disturbances via court martial.

By majority, the verdict has also struck down certain sections of the Army Act, which may render it inapplicable to other civilians as well. Unfortunately, those who are criticising the verdict are brushing aside even the basic precepts of democratic governance in which civilian courts are mandated by law to deliver justice. To such critics, this truth does not seem to be of any consequence. Sadly, they fail to see that parallel forums of ‘justice’ must be resisted at all cost.

Published in Dawn, November 19th, 2023

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