Judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan disqualified the Chief Executive of the state from politics. The ruling party nominated another Prime Minister. A court issued non-bail able arrest warrant for the fresh nominee. The standoff between judiciary and executive has produced assault on the executive. Retaliation could emerge on official level soon.
Judiciary under its hyperactive Chief Justice Chaudhry, has taken the war against corruption into uncharted territory as the son of the Chief Justice is being investigated for his own involvement in corruption. Opposition parties hold corruption and incompetence as their rallying cry against the ruling party.
Is it reasonable to expect honest politicians and judges in Pakistan? The corruption story of Arsalan Iftikhar (son of the Chief Justice) revealed that the millions of dollars in bribe were the highpoint of a career that began when he got into a medical college without meeting the admission requirements. After becoming a doctor he got himself inducted into the band of civil service officers. He was elevated into the command of law enforcement. A lifetime of impunity groomed him to yield high profits from Dad’s eminence as the top judge. In Pakistan, impunity is the status symbol.
If democratic system continues to offer transparency and free media, imperfect judges and corrupt politicians could end up establishing strong institutions. But the military’s totalitarian design and the lawless environment pushed democracy to the sideline. Military and their intelligence agency rattled the civilian government with the memo-gate scandal. The ‘family-gate’ corruption allegation against CJ’s son recently surfaced to threaten the judiciary. Opposition politicians prefer associating with the military to ascend into the power corridors in Islamabad.
International pressure for democracy on Pakistan’s military could be compromised by the need of passage out of Afghanistan for US-ISAF troops and machinery. Pakistan’s newborn democracy has been abandoned. Predators are on the prowl.
After Judiciary’s assault on the executive branch of government, the President can suspend the judiciary and dissolve legislature with military’s cooperation. The judiciary can seek military’s assistance in enforcing a judicial order against the government. The military can impose martial law.
The ruling party is looking like a martyr after Judiciary’s recent judgements. They boast a history of persecution, judicial execution and murders. Their record of incompetence and corruption could be balanced if they come across as victims of establishment again. For the military and the ISI, it could be a winning strategy to impose an auto coup under President Zardari. It could damage the People’s Party beyond repair.
If Zardari’s People’s Party doesn’t find the auto coup seductive, Judiciary could continue to raise challenges; seeking military’s assistance for enforcing a judgement against the government could be the final blow. Between Zardari and Chaudhry, it is hard to tell who is not conspiring with the military to reverse democracy? Mian Shareef and Imran Khan are relying heavily on GHQ’s nod to form their own government.
Another option that seems natural in Pakistan’s case is Martial Law. Again, the Military could take it upon themselves to clear the mess. Corruption and incompetence of civilian government, the standoff between judiciary and executive, and parliament’s failure in handling key security issues could form the charge sheet for removal of democracy.
Any miracles, wonders?