The government’s drive to oust the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) from Sindh seems to have hit a snag, that too from an unlikely source; the Supreme Court, which itself had been the prime driver of the investigation against Asif Ali Zardari and his associates. The Pakistan Teheek-e-Insaaf’s (PTI) move to place the names of all suspects on the Exit Control List (ECL) was thoroughly rebuked by the Chief Justice of Pakistan, who echoed the sentiments of commentators across the country, that the Joint Investigation Team’s (JIT) report was merely a report, and using it to push a political agenda was not only unconstitutional but impractical. The order from the apex judge was clear “review this decision, take it back before the cabinet.”

This latest development is another in a long line of events that have blurred the distinction between the judicial, political and executive spheres, which has created a veritable quagmire of confusing directives and conflicting jurisdictions. Once more we witnessed a familiar sight, government officials struggling to answer inquisitorial lines of questioning by the apex judge, floundering and then submitting themselves to the orders of the court. The PTI, already facing criticism for their declared objecting of “toppling the PPP government” now has to face additional embarrassment if it is forced to take back the decision of placing names on the ECL.

Will it take back this decision? Does the CJP have the power to enforce a specific executive action on the Cabinet? These are questions that don’t have any determined answers. Many would view this act as an overreach of judicial activism into the executive domain, but where this present government has followed most of the directives issued by the current SC, it is unlikely that it would refuse to abide by this one.

What the PTI is left with is an awkward situation. The indecent haste with which many important officials and ministers rushed to use the report for political gain has now been remarked upon in the apex court itself, an arena which has been quite friendly to the PTI to say the least. Will the Information Minister – who is in Karachi to drum up support for an anti-PPP push – take this latest development into account and call off the drive, or will the party decide to push through despite the criticism?

Whatever the result, PTI’s accountability drive has created enough controversy to muddy the waters that it was supposedly purifying. Perhaps the best course of action at this point would be to let the law take its course.