Due to the most unpredictable elections ever, we thought we would get at least one week of relief from stories about the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), who for the past year, has consistently propped up in headlines and controversies. Alas, it was not to be and here we are.
This time, the CJP has found fault with the inane comedy of errors that is the scheme for construction of the Diamer-Bhasha dam. After advocating vociferously for financing this infrastructure, through voluntary donations, the CJP has expressed complaint that the procedure is not going well. After initiating the donation fund for the dam himself, the CJP decided to pass the mantle on to the government, and has said that it is not the judiciary’s job to build water reservoirs in the country, and that it is the responsibility of the executive. The takeaway lesson is that it is not a judge’s duty to build water dams, even if he orders them built.
Would it be a stretch to say that the CJP should have predicted the host of problems that would come with crowd-funding a dam? From the very start, when funds for the dam were soaring, water experts predicted that building the dam through donations was just not possible. If on average, the account sees an inflow of Rs20m per day, an optimistic number, it would take 199 years for the dam to be built, thus cementing the highly unsurprising theory that you cannot finance infrastructure or run government like a charity.
Perhaps the CJP withdrawing from this project means he has finally learnt the complexity of executive power and how he cannot usurp it. However, if he had to exercise judicial overreach, he could have at least seen through it, instead of letting the enormous burden of an impossible project fall on the government.