Ali Malik: One will stab, the other will back-stab


The following blog post by Mr Ali Malik was originally published at his web site DemoPak. It is cross posted here for your information and to begin a discussion about the Supreme Court’s hearing on 18th Amendment.

Tomorrow Supreme Court will give judgment on 18th amendment case. I sincerely hope that my apprehensions and fears turn out to be unfounded, but it seems that the Supreme Court will stab the democracy and parliament with her judgment. It most likely will strike down some key parts of 18th amendment, specially the ones pertaining to the appointment of judges of the the superior judiciary. In this the Supreme Court will strike down the principle of sovereignty of the parliament. It will be striking down a legislation that has been unanimously approved by both houses of the parliament and has the support of all electable political forces in the country. Not only that, the Supreme Court will do it despite the clear guide lines provided in the constitution, which it claims to uphold, as is given in 239 (6):

“(6) For the removal of doubt, it is hereby declared that there is no limitation whatever on the power of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) to amend any of the provisions of the Constitution.]”

This amounts to rewriting the constitution, which the supreme court has started since July 20, 2007 and has been carrying on through NRO verdict, July 31st verdict and many other judgments in the course of judicial adventurism. I hope I am wrong but tomorrow will mark an assault on democracy and parliament in this country similar to the ones carried out by military dictators.

Post the stab of the judiciary, what awaits this nations and the system is a back-stab by PML-N. PML-N has been blowing the trumpet of COD (which is the foundation of 18th amendment). It has been a signatory of 18th amendment and its members voted in favor the amendment in both Senate and the National Assembly. Its leaders and particularly the Sharifs of Jeddah speak of supremacy of parliament and democracy day in day out. Yet, post the SC judgment to strike down parts of 18th amendment, PML-N will not be standing with the parliament but will be standing with 17 unelected officials, born out of a PCO, who are on the course to rewrite the constitution of this country. SC stab will be hard to handle but PML-N back-stab will cause way more damage to the democracy and the country. Just when the parliament should have stood together to counter an encroachment on its territory, PML-N’s stance might force other right-wing political forces to turn it into an issue of Judiciary vs. Govt. rather than an issue of sovereignty of the parliament, for their own political compulsions. This, of course, will have repercussions for the country and democracy here for years to come. Despite the faith in PML-N by many democracy-lovers, to me, the court will challenge the parliament at the behest of Mr. Sharif, for it is Mr. Sharif who controls the courts through his cronies.

Mr. Sharif is the only stakeholder in the current political set-up who gains from disruption of the system. With his ever-shrinking political base, he needs a chaotic situation where the powers concerned will be forced to have a settlement with him on his terms. He, of course, will have full backing of his local and global backers in such settlement. Once in the system, he can start rolling the agenda that has remained close to his and his backers hearts for decades. Other than Mr. Sharif, most political leaders and parties are to gain from the continuation of the system and this makes Mr. Sharif even more desperate.

Now the question is, will the system survive this combination of the stab and the back-stab. My analytical guess is yes. It will be hard. It will lead to further chaos, uncertainty, instability and confusion but I believe that ultimately the system will prevail. I believe that the 2007 experiment is a well thought out plan for Pakistan which is based on the vision of key influential powers in Pakistan. Its custodians are powerful just as its enemies are. My guess is that by virtue of being at the helm of affairs for years, the custodians of the system will outmaneuver its enemies. More so, in the great game of Pakistan, the power of custodians and their allies has been on the rise compared to that of the enemies.

Many players in the great game of Pakistan are holding their cards close to their chests for now. Post SC judgment, everyone, institutes and entities both foreign and local, will have to show where he stands and the show is likely to hold many surprises. The call of show is likely to lead to confrontation with in the bureaucracy, the security establishment of the country and the judiciary. This will lead to chaos and instability and the situation will likely get worse before any signs of stability start emerging. How soon the stability emerges will depend on the response of PML-Q and MQM in the political domain and the result of the conflict with-in the judiciary. How long the instability will last and how much damage will it do, no one knows. But a few things I dare predict are; SC will overstep, the Sharif’s will side with unelected judges against the representative rule and democracy, a chaos will ensue, and system has the capacity to survive this combo of stab and back-stab. Stabbers would not gain but the people of Pakistan will lose.