The damsel in distress, that is the Pakistani nation, believes that it has found its knight in shining armor. But, the horse this knight is on can only take him to so many places where he has jurisdiction.  Every now and then, something bad happens. So bad, that the cries of the masses echo throughout the country. Failing to explore new avenues, they take to the familiar playground where they can all be the angry mob which is bound to get attention: the roads. More often than not, it is then that the words which are music to their ears are uttered by a news anchor: “The Supreme Court of Pakistan has taken notice of the issue”.  Relieved and grateful for the fact that at least, there is someone who watches television and is truly empathetic towards the miseries of the poor, they return home.

The recent sou moto action by the SC against the record price hike in electricity and petroleum is a good illustration of the phenomenon. In this case, however, the jubilation is not only premature but also misguided. The media, intentionally or unintentionally, has tricked the people into believing that the SC disapproves of the price hike and will roll it back, come hell or high water. That is simply untrue. The contention that the SC has drawn is not so much that the poor will crumble under the unbearable weight of the new prices, but that it should only happen with the active participation of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA). 

Once again, the government has superbly silenced its unwise critics. Just a little more than 100 days in power, and the allegations of indecisiveness and incapacity are rampant. In a laudable attempt to establish that not only is it very much capable, but also enjoys much-desired independence in its actions, the government decided to go solo. Minor laws have never deterred great governments from doing what they feel is right. The PML-N government felt no need to be held hostage at the hands of a slow-moving bureaucratic body such as NEPRA, and passed the notification without the mandatory consultation. But, not everyone has the same appreciation for innovation, at least as far as actions of others are concerned. And so, the SC made its entry into the picture. 

The people should know that it’s not a matter of interference in price fixation, but legal procedure which has drawn the court's eye. Granted that this version lacks the dramatic effect and would never make a headline, but it is the truth nonetheless. No one should expect the SC to slash prices by half. It doesn’t plan to do so, which is excellent, because it is not its job.