Supreme Court itself in the post-restoration phase could not crank out anything noticeable except floating with some disputable limelight verdicts
The discourse of representative democracy presumes participation, representation and accommodation but things are not much convenient in the transitional countries where superficial conceptions of the processes predominate along with friable institutional framework. Most of these societies are victim to the disequilibrium of power with undefined power structure. Institutions desperately hanker for maximizing their influence undermining the power and legitimacy of others.
The definition of democracy in developing countries is fallacious to large extent which overpasses cultural, societal and economic prerequisites and orate rhetoric of persisting with the system only for consecutive terms with a pipe dream of consolidation of democracy in state’s polity. The system that recurs with such irresponsive bearing turns extraneous. The main reason for this failure is the execution of democracy to the levels of balloting only and the relative placement of institutional framework.
Apparently Pakistan is in a fix with incessant institutional strife where apex judiciary and elected parliament are locking their horns with each other. The stringent debate of the supremacy of either is stirring great controversy. Executive clarions for the supremacy of the parliament where judiciary maintains a stance that it is the constitution which is supreme and right to interpret the constitution lies with the judiciary. Elected legislature is of the mindset that judiciary is targeting the elected parliament, putting forward unnecessary demands and is intruding into the sphere of executive. The recent verdict of disqualification of elected prime minister went disputable and controversial with a proposition that throughout the history the civilian rule has been undermined by the co-conspirators of dictatorial rule. Judiciary in Pakistan has always been envisaged as an instrument rendering legitimacy to the unconstitutional ventures. The apparent impasse in its contemporaneous phase cannot be understood without comprehending the nature of civil military relations in Pakistan.
The present judiciary in Pakistan is an offshoot of the reactionary wrath of the masses and frustration brewed against dictatorial rule in early 2007 which got harnessed and resulted in a popular movement including lawyers, political parties and civil society. Demand for restoration became symbolic where infact it was a unified alliance to smack the crumbling edifice of military rule.
It is noteworthy to mention that Pakistan is a post-colonial state and societal orientation and statecraft in post-colonial polities often experience institutional fragility and imbalance. Pakistan’s long countenance upon its policy of militarization made Army a mammoth giant which has dwindled civilian influence and resulted in direct infringement and infiltration of military’s influence in civilian institutions. In the post restoration phase of judiciary Pakistan was experiencing post coup phase and nature of civil military relations was getting revamped. Institutions were hustling for maximization of their influence. Here judiciary emerged as third competing actor in power structure of Pakistan.
The emergence of judiciary as a third actor was incommodious and niggling for the existing contenders who were not ready on getting the size of cake divided. The acceptance for Army is getting shriveled in the statecraft where it ruled more than civilian regimes. The most impeccable delineation of Army’s mindset can be traced from a phrase, “We don’t overtake, we just take over” It always envisions itself as a potential aspirant and yearns for driver’s seat. In the wake of democratic rule, though fragile but for a complete term, has shrunk the space and roam for Army’s role. Pertaining to this the most annoying element for it is getting questioned before civil law for its unconstitutional, immoral and illegal ventures. The cold shoulder now from the accomplice of the past which always rendered unconditional favour and legitimacy is darting a bleak future’s prospect in case of axing democracy for which Army is always up. Though with reluctance in taking up many contentious issues against Army the Supreme Court has not genuinely challenged it yet but coming events are casting their shadows and possibility of preemption from Army cannot be shrugged off as recently family gate scam was a wakeup call for the Supreme Court to remain status-quoist. The praetorian Army at the moment is having ambivalent relationship with the institution of judiciary in Pakistan which is challenging its hegemony and emerging as a competent actor extending its wings.
The ruling elite led by PPP shares a long history of inimical relationship with judiciary in Pakistan. It always projected itself as a victim of military-judiciary nexus. The eventualities in the recent most time has made this relationship astringent where both judiciary and government seem disapproving each other. This tussle is perplexing in many ways. It is not simply a battle of supremacy between two state institutions but underlying are the political aspirations and vested interests at both ends. One thing for sure that PPP’s deliverance in this term has come to naught. A major rift is visible between rhetoric of democracy and deliverance, where democracy does not account only holding of procedural balloting but striving for the welfare of the masses where ruling government has completely botched. As a matter of excuse and to exonerate itself it flaunts that its performance has genuinely been obstructed by unnecessary intrusions of the Supreme Court into its sphere of authority. The intentions of judicial martyrdom cannot be avowed altogether true but longing to cash this issue is conspicuous as it has been recently vindicated by the statements rendered when prime minister was stood disqualified. Firm resolute on not writing to Swiss authorities is a decision more political in its nature rather being legal or constitutional.
Supreme Court itself in the post-restoration phase could not crank out anything noticeable except floating with some disputable limelight verdicts. The judiciary at the moment is seeking legitimacy in the state’s polity which it is attempting through some popular decisions. Taking suo-motos and picking some crowd pleasing issues the judiciary is day dreaming to establish its credibility which is not possible. It went astray bringing any change in the decadent civil procedural system of justice which is impinging on 98 % of masses in the lower courts. In this regard merely disqualifying the prime minister would not serve the purpose. With its adamant stance on several issues it pretends itself as a potential actor in power spectrum which yearns for its potent assertion where this aspiration has slightly undermined the potentiality of the other one.
Taking an optimistic view, this all hassle is a healthy sign for nourishing democracy in Pakistan. Apparently Institutions are negotiating for power and influence, and are meddling with one another, but ultimately will reach at some consensus and will demarcate their own sphere of influence which will change this pattern of procedural democracy into substantive democracy. The positive thing in this all hullaballoo is dwindling influence of army in political arena. The very nature of civil military relations is getting transformed which inkles optimism of consolidation of democratic rule and democratic norms in Pakistan.