Mere hours after the ruling party passed the controversial bill ‘Election Act 2017’, the President of Pakistan, Mamnoon Hussain, approved it through his signatures.
Though the members of the opposition parties censured the bill in the session of the National Assembly (NA) on Monday, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) took advantage of its position in the assembly session in passing the bill.
As a result, Nawaz Sharif has become once again the President of PML-N, the ruling party of the country.
In the midst of the PML-N celebrations however, one has to ask; does the move make any material difference? The answer is a plain and simple no.
Nawaz Sharif is still barred from holding public office and he was already the de facto head of the party even without the title of president.
In terms of power structures and the functioning of government, nothing has changed.
However, the PML-N sees it a political victory and comeback of parliamentary supremacy against establishment-judiciary nexus.
The celebrations and statements of PML-N leadership attest to it.
Commenting on the re-election of Nawaz as the party President, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal called it a historic day for democracy in Pakistan.
“No dictator or verdict by Supreme Court can break our relationship with Nawaz Sharif.”
While the PML-N is welcome to celebrate its hollow victories, the method through which it was achieved is deplorable to say the least.
For a government that boasts of its commitment to democracy and democratic ideals every chance it gets, the legislative process – which was rushed and rammed through Parliament before true opposition could develop – is a contradiction in terms.
The content of the bill – designed specifically to change the law and allow one man to benefit – is the hallmark of dictatorial regimes and sham democracies; another demographic that the PML-N claims to be against.
Politically loose principles aside; the PML-N ‘victory” may be as short lived as the one it celebrated after the first Supreme Court verdict.
The bill is probably going to be challenged in the apex court on constitutional grounds, by several petitioners no less.
Since Nawaz Sharif was disqualified based on clauses contained in the constitution, a contradictory law – like this one – is liable to be struck down.
The party should start prepping its lawyers.