Supreme Court 'welcomes' new prime minister
23 June, 2012
LAHORE: Unprovoked as it has been trying to appear in the face of a creeping judicial tyranny in the country, the PPP-led ruling coalition helped the democratic system to stay on its course for a rare democratic transition in the country within this year.
Opposition parties in parliament, particularly the PML-N though have all praises for the judicial activism, of which it was the greatest political beneficiary too played its role and contested the election for the chief executive of the country to keep the parliamentary democracy functional.
The JUI-F of master political-stroke player Maulana Fazlur Rehman also expressed its intent to stay within the fold of parliamentary democracy and its smooth transition sooner rather than later by keeping the process of election of PM alive and kept the onlooker guessing as to what he has up his sleeves to show to his 'admirers'.
His role for the perpetuation of the system was well-taken all across, yet to many, particularly those in the PML-N, the Maulana played for his friend in the Presidency without loosing the scope of political hobnobbing with Nawaz Sharif's PML-N in the future.
The election of Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf with a clear majority on Friday after the toppling of Yousaf Raza Gilani-led elected government in an undemocratic fashion proves the understanding of political parties of the political games being played behind the scene by non-democratic elements.
Even the PML-N didn't let the game go out of the hands of political players and stayed committed to the process of democratic transition for which it has a key role to play –firstly, for the approval of new Chief Election Commissioner and, secondly, for an interim government to oversee elections.
The ruling coalition has already expressed its intent to hold elections within this year and keeping into account all the procedural requirements and happenings in months to come, there appears no possibility of early elections before October.
But will the new government be able or be allowed to survive till that becomes a million dollar question since much before the result of the election of new PM was announced, the Supreme Court (SC) made public its cause list for the next week.
What was most surprising in the list was fixation of NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) case for June 27, only three days after the new PM would have been able to take oath of the office.
Will the new PM be able to get sufficient time from the court to understand and proceed on the matter or he be made to express his intention forthwith on the date given for the hearing of the case?
The answer to the question lies only with the learned bench, however, what has largely been assumed is that the case has been fixed so quickly in understanding and complete comprehension of the political situation.
The quick fixation of the case is likely to heighten existing tensions between parliament and judiciary and aimed at not letting the former by the latter to even think of considering the safeguards it intends to put in place through constitutional amendment/amendments for the protection of members of parliament.
The rare instance of the disqualification of a member of parliament who happened to be prime minister by a three-member bench of the SC – obviously a non-elected institution – has given rise to many questions about the constitutional equilibrium between parliament and judiciary.
The new government will have to put in top-gear the process of the approval of new election commissioner and interim government and complete it before another standoff it was made to face against what is being termed as the highly politicised judiciary, which kept engaged the Gilani administration in a legal battle for its entire term.
Will the incumbent get sufficient time to put its ranks and file together for another legal battle it has been hinted at much before the assumption of the office by Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, who had already received adverse comments from certain members of the judiciary during and at the close of the Rental Power Plants case.
There appears little possibility of the new government breathing in a comfort zone since the judiciary has wasted no time in 'welcoming' the new prime minister with the fixation of NRO case only a couple of days after he takes oath of office.
The incumbent government could not work as fast to political happening as a politically motivated judiciary, which in the words of the chief justice has evolved a 'chain of command', a termed coined for the function of armies and their regiments.
In parliamentary form of democracy particularly where there exists a coalition government with leading party not having enough strength to survive on its own, decision process is always lengthy. But the kind of political-cum-judicial emergency under which the country has been made to exist, the politics need to learn the art of survival much quickly than what has been seen in the past.
The kind of approach the judiciary has been showing since the Arsalangate case came to surface through a 'manipulated and manoeuvred' media requires a matching response from parliament for the sake of its survival.
What has so far emanated from the ruling coalition's camp is the setting up a constitutional court to deal with the judiciary said to be passing system-destabilising judgements such as in the speaker's ruling case, which sent packing in an unprecedented fashion an elected government which was daring the opposition to bring a no-confidence motion instead of filing petition in the SC.
Political observers see no peaceful transition from the incumbent government to the next elected government in the presence of a judiciary which has been showing no care to the criticism its judgements are receiving from independent jurists and constitutional experts.
The restraint that parliament has been showing towards a pro-active judiciary is not likely to work for the survival of the system and the buzz of Bangladesh formula under which all parliamentary forces were sidelined in the name of correction of the system but failed bitterly had already been making round, said the observers.
The critical juncture at which the democratic system finds itself could only be transformed in the perpetuation of the system possible only if all forces – democratic or non-democratic – show restraint and let the democratic transition take place for the good of the beleaguered country, opined the observers.