Despite peacefully accepting the Prime Minister’s ouster, political parties have continued to criticise the method used to achieve it. Crucially, this criticism is not limited to the members of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), but finds expression from opposition parties that were on the other side of the Panama inquiry.If the government’s objections were brushed aside because they were viewed as an automatic pushback against a damaging decision, the opposition’s objections must be given weight – as there is no vested interest in raising them.
Speaking as the chief guest at a national seminar held in the memory of the 54 lawyers martyred last year in a suicide attack in Civil Hospital Quetta, Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani said that the parliament stands really weak ‘today’ as anyone could launch an attack against it.Whereas democratic forces had struggled against a dictator and got Article 58(2)(b) removed from the Constitution, now another method has arisen, one that was equally problematic.
It is not hard to see why the historic imposition of the ‘Sadiq and Ameen” clause can be equated with the forceful dismissals of governments in the past; virtually any action can fall under the ambit of the clause and the objective scale differs according to the moral leanings of each individual judge. Already, petitions are being filed against other politicians, such as Imran Khan and Jehangir Tareen, for not being ‘Sadiq and Ameen’ in a variety of different issues.
Accompanied by another Pakistan People’s Party leader in Aitizaz Ahsan, the Senate Chairman minced little words in establishing who he felt is responsible for this development. He lamented the institutional clash between the executive, judiciary and legislative and made a few pointed remarks against the military establishment, claiming that no one needed a “patriotism certificate” from Rawalpindi.
It is important to note that both senior PPP leaders did not allege any grand conspiracy the way several PML-N leaders have, nor did they blame any single institution or individual – rather it is the clash of these institutions, who have not managed to work out their bilateral powers and responsibilities that is leading to such problems.
They do have a point here, questions like ‘when can an elected official be removed by the court and under what circumstances’ are usually settled in most jurisdictions – in Pakistan that is still being negotiated.
The Senate chairman took the initiative to remove clauses that gave power to the executive to enforce its will on the legislative – it is clear now that more cleaning up of the constitution needs to be done.