A three member bench of the Supreme Court has requested the Chief Justice to weigh in on the proper interpretation of Articles 62 and 63 – articles that require elected officials to be “good Muslims” and prohibits them from defaming the Armed Forces. The respected Justices decision to send this request to the Chief Justice instead of answering the question themselves speaks to the task at hand. In fact, it is an impossible task.
The task at hand is impossible because any answer will leave part of the population unsatisfied. If the Chief Justice takes a liberal approach to the question, he will face angry demonstrations from the right wings (both religious and hyper-nationalist). If he takes a conservative approach, he will face being discredited among his peers (legal academics and the global brotherhood of Justices).
However, even if the Chief Justice were immune to the political pressures he faces, the real reason that the task is impossible is that the answer is purely subjective. In the case of religion, who among us is qualified to judge whether someone is a “good Muslim”? This is a question for Allah (SWT), not for a Court. Do not forget that even Mubashir Lucman has accused Imran Khan of being disqualified under Articles 62 and 63.
In the case of defaming the military, this too is often in the eye of the beholder. While some people might think that protecting the military’s honour is a matter of defending their every action, right or wrong, others may believe that the best way to protect the military’s honour is to hold it to a high standard of accountability so that wrongs may be prevented in the first place.
Thankfully, the Chief Justice has a way out. We have a way to gauge popular opinion about whether or not a candidate has an acceptable moral and religious reputation, and whether he is a supporter or defamer of the Armed Forces. This method is called “elections.” If the people believe a candidate is immoral or anti-Pakistan, the people have an opportunity to reject him at the polls.
Imran Khan believes he has developed a clever strategy to undo his failure during elections, but all he has really done is demonstrated contempt for Pakistani voters and the judiciary. If Imran Khan wants to move into PM’s House so badly, he needs to do a better job of convincing voters to put him there, not scheming tricks to get the Chief Justice to do it for him.