Judicial Overreach Undermines Pakistan’s Democratic Facade


The decision by Sindh High Court to suspend two members of the Sindh Provincial assembly because they failed to supervise a campaign to cull stray dogs is a judicial overreach that will hurt Pakistan’s fragile democratic set up.

In a statement on this issue, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan expressed “concern” and asserted that it believes “that suspending elected representatives—whose task is to legislate, not execute—amounts to judicial overreach and prays that the honourable court will reverse this decision.”

According to HRCP, “the tendency to overreach has become increasingly common, most recently with the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) allegations concerning Maryam Nawaz Sharif. It is not for the NAB to accuse any citizen of being involved in ‘anti-state propaganda’—at the best of times, a nebulous and convenient label applied to political dissidents, academics, journalists and human rights defenders. The NAB has been criticised rightly for overstepping its jurisdiction time and again, and for persisting in selective accountability.”

Finally, the HRCP “believes that the government has as much to answer for in this respect. Its assault on the Election Commission of Pakistan betrays a worrying lack of respect for the Constitution and for democratic values. The government and all state institutions would do well to remember that neither the erosion of autonomy nor unbridled overreach bodes well for Pakistan’s future as a democracy.”

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Author: Nida Paras