Confidence in Judiciary Threatened

Tension and confusion is growing over recent behaviour from the Supreme Court, and it may be having unintended consequences for the Chief Justice. While NAB and the courts scramble to avoid the punishments threatened by the Chief Justice, people at home and abroad – including the Swiss judiciary – are questioning the actions of the judiciary.

The Chief Justice has ordered that the Swiss Case against Zardari be re-opened. Only problem is, he is not the Chief Justice of the Swiss judiciary. So he has commanded NAB under severe threat of punishment to write a letter requesting the case to be reopened.

NAB has been holding off on the request as there has been some internal discussion among government officials about whether it is possible to open cases against a sitting President who enjoys immunity under Article 248 of the constitution. But now, faced with immediate arrest and jailing for failure to comply with the Chief Justice’s wishes to move quickly against the President, things have been put into high gear.

The Daily Times has called the courts actions “inappropriate” and said they “make no sense,” arguing that the actions of the Chief Justice and the Supreme Court are eroding confidence in the judiciary.

The court does not seem happy with the criticism it is facing regarding the NRO verdict. Instead of reacting in anger, their honourable lordships should revisit the issue. Frequent use of strong language and high emotions on the part of the highest seat of justice does not give the impression of a cool and collected body taking judicious decisions on sensitive issues. The court seems angrier than is justified by judicial office. This may end up eroding the respect and dignity of the court. The court should exercise judicial restraint, which has been conspicuous by its absence for some time now. The manner in which the court issues its orders and gets them implemented should not be made controversial.

Today, Geneva’s chief prosecutor, Daniel Zappelli told the Reuters news service that he had not received any request to reopen the case, and anyway Zardari enjoys immunity while he is President.

But here is the most interesting part of the interview with the Swiss prosecutor. He said to the news agency, “If he doesn’t have immunity, why don’t they try him in Pakistan?”

This raises the key question of why is it that the Chief Justice is so insistent on trying the Swiss case and not opening some case here. Could it be because the court knows that the President enjoys immunity in Pakistan according to the constitution?

Pakistan should not take dictation from foreign governments or foreign courts. That is the rallying cry that we always hear. But these same people are now demanding that our President be put on trial in a foreign court.

Why the hypocrisy?

International legal analysts have been saying for months now that there is a conspiracy to execute a “Coup by Judiciary.” It looks like the perhaps the conspirators are getting impatient.

The events of this week have been troubling and threaten more than just Asif Ali Zardari. This is what must not be missed in the discussion. Today there is a new report from Moody’s Investors Service that says threats to political stability are harming the national economy and the image of the country in the eyes of the world.

We need to stop this petty political intrigue. We do not have to sacrifice justice, but neither must we sacrifice the nation. Allow the process to move properly and stop trying to rush people into jail, Mr. Chief Justice. You have the opportunity to save the country or destroy it. Please choose to save the country, and stop this madness before it goes too far.

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