STATE OF PAKISTAN – A ONE LEGGED STRUCTURE

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BY: Admiral (r) Afzal Tahir

The honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan announced its verdict through a short order on the matter of the happenings inside the National Assembly of Pakistan on 3rd April 2022.  The order is apparently designed to pull the country out of the current state of paralysis.  I have come to this conclusion through reading and listening to the remarks made by the honourable bench during the course of the proceedings. Whether what the SCP wanted to achieve will be achieved or not can be debated and will be manifest in only a few days.  In my opinion this judgement will drag the country into further chaos but that is not the prime aim of writing this piece.  What I intend to discuss here is, how the entire state structure has, deliberately or inadvertently, been made to stand on one pillar of the state discarding all other proverbial pillars.  What we have been told and what is written on the matter is that a state stands on four pillars vis the executive, the legislature, the judiciary and the fourth is a matter of controversy.  Therefore, it can be safely said that there are essentially three pillars that a state stands on.  In the current matter, the entire responsibility of running and managing the affairs of the state have been taken up (usurped) by the honourable SC.  Additionally, all organs and offices of the state have been taken over by the SCP through this order.

The President of Pakistan has been placed under the orders of the SCP and his dissolution of National Assembly has been termed illegal.  The Prime Minister’s advice to the President for dissolving the Assembly has been termed illegal and his further actions have been made subservient to SCP.  The Speaker of the National Assembly has been told that his act of disallowing the No Confidence Motion tabled by the opposition, on the grounds of article 5 of the constitution of Pakistan, was illegal and (unconstitutional) and that ruling of his has been reversed; by extension the speaker stands proven guilty of violating the constitution.  The same speaker (legally a criminal under article 6 of our not so sacred constitution) has been ordered to summon the next session of the NA. He has been told in very precise terms how he will run the proceedings of the all-important National Assembly session, of setting the agenda for the assembly, of its start time and the time that the Assembly will be prorogued. 

Another surprise is that the short order has meticulously deliberated upon and ordered to the minutest detail as to what will be done and what will not be done. Ordinarily it would appear as if a seasoned politician had a hand in writing the order as all the contingencies that could spoil the game for the opposition have been included in the order and measures put in place to stop those from happening.  The fact that our honourable judges have such a clear vision about politics of the country should be a source of great satisfaction to all Pakistanis.  I was at the receiving end of a court order pertaining to a land matter wherein it was clear as day that the order had been dictated by my opposing party and merely signed by the honourable judge, but there are no similarities here.  It is also quite heartening to note that the Honourable bench not only patiently and attentively heard the case over four days giving opportunity to all and sundry (including one or two who would be in jail for multiple crimes committed, in any justice system of the world but not in ours) but also wrote the detailed order in a matter of four hours.  We, in the armed forces are often tasked to write operation orders for a contingency and we are such dull professionals that we take more than four days to write a document that is virtually on the back of our hands.  So, again a source of satisfaction for all Pakistanis that our courts write such elaborate orders in a matter of four of five hours and the orders are so comprehensive that not one possibility is left out, or do they?

In addition to assuming the duties of most state functionaries, the Honourable bench has also rendered some state institutions useless and redundant.  This treatment has been meted out to our ambassadors in foreign countries and their communications sent to our foreign office, the foreign office itself and the National Security Committee.  I say this because statedly, an ambassador of ours in a foreign country sent a dispatch to our foreign office detailing the contents of a meeting that he attended with a functionary of that country.  The foreign office considered it a serious matter of interference in internal affairs of Pakistan and brought it to the notice of the PM.  The PM thought it serious enough to call a meeting of the NSC to discuss the matter and invited all members of the NSC to be present.  The opposition representatives declined to attend and refused to be a part of those deliberations yet were unanimous in calling entire matter as false and fabricated.  By electing not to take into account the said dispatch, that was, in the opinion of the speaker the root cause of No Confidence Motion,  the honourable bench has relegated all these three institutions of the state to non-entities insofar as their functions are concerned.  The ambassadors, the foreign office and the NSC hold the key to decision making in matters of foreign relations and security of the country and cannot be treated with such disdain as has become evident through the short order of the Honourable SCP.  The Armed Forces of Pakistan are an integral and important part of the NSC through representation by the CJCSC and the services chiefs.  The role of armed forces in deciding on and ensuring security of the country has also been put in jeopardy through this short order.  This is a very serious matter, in fact a matter of survival of the country because with this precedence, the SCP, in future, can and might take a Suo moto notice of a matter pertaining to deliberations of NSC and deliver a verdict contrary to committee’s analysis and decisions, as has been presently done.

It appears that the honourable court took more than needed or necessary influence of events outside the court.  The ECP statement regarding time needed for holding fresh elections and certain meetings held between the opposition and another state institution might have had an impact on the outcome.  It is strange that from the very beginning, it was being forecast that the ruling of the Speaker will be reversed (despite article 5 of the constitution) but that the fresh elections will also be ruled out was a surprise to all the observers and commentators.  Unfortunately, and evidently, every institution of this hapless and rudderless country is a king and a sovereign in itself.  The tone and tenor of the short order could easily be a dictate of a sovereign to his subjects, the ECP is on a tangent from its constitutional trajectory from the word go, the courts display an endemic lethargy, indeed deliberate foot dragging, in deciding cases before them, with no one to egg them on, the criminals and wanted by law individuals call the shots in the politics of Pakistan and the parliament is often turns into a home to all manner of subversion of the country with now selective protection from God knows where! 

 

NSP: Too many ideas too little clarity especially on nuclear deterrence

So sadly, the seemingly strong building of nuclear armed state of Pakistan stands on, not four, not three, not even two but on one pillar.  A Rs. 2000/ daily wages mason will tell you that this building is unstable and prone to toppling any minute.  In fact, the sheer scale of disaster that this verdict will bring upon the state will become manifest in a few days and its long-term effects will also not take so long in manifestation. 

May Allah be our savior or we are doomed by the shenanigans of the Kings in our state structure. Pakistan Paindabad.

The writer is a former Chief of Naval Staff. 

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