Judicial Crisis and the Missing Good Governance

On Saturday, the clash between the judiciary and the government was surfaced once again despite the fact that on various occasions earlier both the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice denied publicly of a confrontation between the judiciary and the government. As this drama unfolds, the Chief Justice of Pakistan, in a sou motu action, has suspended two Presidential orders pertaining to the elevation of Chief Justice of Lahore High Court Khawaja Sharif to the Supreme Court and of appointing Justice Saqib Nisar as Acting Chief Justice Lahore High Court.

The prime reason for this suo motu action is that the presidency has not ‘consulted’ Iftikhar Chaudhry, Chief Justice Supreme Court prior to the issuance of aforementioned presidential orders and therefore is a violation of Article 177 of the Constitution of Pakistan. Nevertheless, the government’s stand is that the formal consultation was held with the Chief Justice and judges’ appointments were as per constitution. So far, government has failed to provide a documentary proof of any such ‘consultation’ on the issue of appointment of judges of the superior court.

The above-stated news has already become the ‘lead’ story of all the Pakistani national newspapers. Different newspapers have used different vocabulary to the nature and severity of this incident. For instance, one English daily newspaper calls the Supreme Court’s verdict as a ‘stinging rebuke’; another English newspaper discusses it as ‘dangerous escalation’ and an international newspaper calls it as a “simmering power struggle”. Undoubtedly, it is a worrisome development for the nascent elected government in Pakistan, who presently is also confronting the looming security threats within the country and a Taliban insurgency on country’s western border. Many political parties have already reacted strongly by categorically calling the presidential act as “unconstitutional”. However, some opposition leaders such as Mr Nawaz Sharif (Chief PML-N), is using it as an opportunity to pressure the government, particularly Asif Ali Zardari. The News on Sunday reports PML-N Chief as saying:

“It is the biggest disservice to the democracy by a person who claimed to be a democrat and happens to be the elected president”.

PML-N Chief has been very vocal for the past two or three years on ‘independence of judiciary’ despite the fact that in 1997 in his term as Prime Minister, he also made a disservice to democracy by ordering an assault on Supreme Court building. Certainly PML-N Chief’s above stated comment elucidates that he is using a different yard stick to check incumbent government’s performance relating to independence of judiciary.

This whole judicial crisis highlights the need for a crucial missing element which is called ‘good governance’. Good governance which as defined by the OECD is “the management of government in a manner that is essentially free of abuse and corruption, and with due regard for the rule of law”. But do our institutions comply with the principles of good governance? Our history suggests that good governance is either used in elections to win people’s votes or the term appears in political speeches of opposition leaders, meant to destabilize the ruling political party.

One of the slogans of our elected government was certainly ‘good governance’ in February 2008 elections. But the current situation of the country (price hike, electricity shortage, security situation etc) has already nullifies the claims made during February 2008 elections by of our elected representatives. The worse of it is that the elected officials and appointed officials, legislatures and executive, at the moment are at war against each other. The recent politico-judicial turmoil is a clash between two personalities, Asif Ali Zardari Vs Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry’, which has been shaped up by now as a clash between the ‘executive and the judiciary’, and as rightly said by Asma Jehangir in her article dated December 19, the clash which began after the Supreme Court’s NRO judgment, has resulted in disturbing the equilibrium of power and an imbalance has been created in favor of judiciary.

Regardless of Prime Minister’s assertion that the country’s institutions will work within their respective domains, political experts of the country view it as “escalating political tension’ in the country which could have dangerous consequences for the incumbent elected government. Mr. Hussain Haqqani, Pakistani Ambassador in the US has been reported as saying that Pakistan would experience massive economic set-back if the democratic process is derailed in the country. This implies that to prevent Pakistan from going through another series of crises, both the legislatures and the judiciary should focus on constitutional provision, responsibilities and institutional integrity.

3 Comments so far

  1. Kaami (unregistered) on February 16th, 2010 @ 4:52 am

    whatever is unfolding, it is tragic example of how a nation shoots itself in the foot. How it knowingly gives itself in the hands of thieves, how its intellegencia, leadership, legal freternity and civil societry embroils itself in non-issues. How the the kaam ke loag are sidelined, how poor are made un-employed and how resources are drained.

    It this goes on like this thanks to a crack president, a dumb / corrupt opposition leader and a mad judge. We might end up to be the first country which drained all its energies on useless pursuits. i need not say any further.

  2. Whistle Blower (unregistered) on February 16th, 2010 @ 3:33 pm

    Mr, Azim Minhas is a BPS-17 officer of the Federal Government. He is son-in-law of Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Federal Minister for Wter & Power, Islamabad, Mr. Azim is working as Director in BPS-19.

    Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has deputed Mr. Azim for appointment of about 40,000 workers of PPP in WAPDA and its Companies like;

    1) QESCO Quetta.
    2) HESCO, Hyd.
    3) IESCO, Islamabad
    4) PESCO, Peshawar
    5) NTDC, Lahore
    6) GEPCO, Gujranwala
    7) FESCO, Faisalabad
    8) LESCO, Lahore
    9) MEPCO, Multan
    10) GENCO-I
    11) GENCO-II
    12) GENCO-III

    Mr. Azim Minhas called ADMN Managers of WAPDA and these Companies in the Ministry of Water and Power and handed over to them lists of about 20,000 workers of PPP for appointment under WAPDA and these Companies fraudulently. Certainly, these candidates have paid him Crores of Rupees.

    These Companies advertised vacant posts of BPS 1-16 in the newspapers. About 50,000 to 60,000 poor candidates applied against these posts.

    These poor candidates have been called for interviews, but appointment letters will be issued to workers of PPP, whose lists have been handed over to Admn Managers of WAPDA and these companies by Mr. Azim Minhas.

    Now Mr. Azim Minhas is making telephonic calls to each Admn Manager of these companies and issuing directions to them to make hurry. He is using the following telephone numbers of the Ministry of Water & Power:-

    1) 051-9210533
    2) 051-9232022

    Telephone record of these numbers may be obtained from PTCL.

    Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has also appointed his brother-in-law Mr. Riaz Ahmed Khan at a salary of RS.3 Lacs in the Ministry of Water & Power. He is a retired officer of the Federal Government.

    Is there anybody in Pakistan who may stop looting of Raja Pervaiz Ashraf either in Rental Power Plants, postings and transfers of Wapda officers or fraudulent appointments of about 20,000 PPP workers in WAPDA/Pepco and its Companies?
    We are looking all this corruption in the Ministry of Water & Power, but when Secretary Water & Power and other top guns are silent what can we do except such a complaint.

    For God Sake, save Pakistan from Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and his family.

    Secretary, Water & Power, is also involved in this corruption with Mr. Raja. I have no doubts that leadership of Mr. Raja is for this corruption not against it.

  3. Kaami (unregistered) on February 16th, 2010 @ 8:21 pm

    @Whistle Blower

    Why should God be bothered with saving us when we ourselves commit hara kirri every once so often. You should look for the media men who were singing praise of these returning thieves led by Zardari and Nawaz Sharif. “Dunno leaderaan ne bari siyaasee baseerat ka sabaot diya hai”. “Ab mil kar Jamhooriat kee Gari ko agay barhana hai” blah blah. And where is the unruly (lawyer) mob which paved the way for the destabilization of this country. Here we are talking about “Good Governance” but I guess, our nation is not satisfied with good., It demands excellence or rather flawless governance and then sends incompetent fools to office.

    Look at the contrast within two years. Terms like economic progress, new projects, entrepreneur ship, investment, return of overseas Pakistani professionals, poverty reduction are no where to be heard instead we have energy draining constitutional crises, media trials and what not. All this may benefit the media barons or the religious fundamentalists but severely damages the country and poor man’s bottom line.

    We reached a point for the first time in our history where different private sector firms were competing to employ final year engineering students, where bright fresh graduates had the opportunity to choose from multiple carrier options. And, now we have the same old same old. The political masters collecting applications from masses and distributing jobs as they own the country. Soon the institutions that we re-built from dead like the banks, telecom, steel mills and what not, all will become a drag. Meantime the nation glued to its TV sets, will be engrossed in yet another crises, constitutional or otherwise.

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