While a vast majority of Pakistanis (less those that are beneficiaries of our corrupt political system) are satisfied with the ongoing judicial activism, there are credible indications of a conspiracy to cripple two of our most credible national institutions. This ‘strike’ will be conducted through legislation spearheaded by PML-N, its allies and with the direct or indirect support of PPP. The disqualified Mr. Nawaz Sharif, who reassumed leadership of the Ruling Party through notoriously controversial legislation has often hinted at making such a move, and his coterie of ministers have publicly stated that they would bring about mega reforms to establish the supremacy of the ‘vote’ (read Parliament) over the Apex Court. While a similar exercise concerning the Armed Forces has not been publicly voiced, but PML-N insiders say that this is very much on the cards. The envisaged reforms will imply parliamentary (or political control) over elevation and appointment of High Court/Supreme Court Judges, their tenures and a similar control over appointments and promotions of Brigadiers and above in the Army.
There can be little doubt as to the effects of such legislation, for it will destroy the check and balance structure that strengthens democratic dispensation. In other words, it will not only destroy democracy but enable our politicians to indulge in an orgy of corruption, with no one to hold them accountable. It will herald the death of a tried and tested system prevalent in great democracies around the world. It will effectively mean the end of Pakistan as Jinnah conceived it.
The deed will be done under the umbrella of establishing ‘Parliamentary Supremacy’ without an iota of guilt, for such supremacy comes from the notion that lawmakers sitting on both sides of the aisle are men of honor and integrity, submitting to dictates of long-term national interest rather than self-centered motives of their own. We regretfully, do not have such individuals. Our political elite is so obsessed with wealth and the power that stems from it that they would gladly ‘sleep with the enemy’. The reforms if legislated into law will effectively destroy the capacity of targeted institutions to enforce accountability, deter anarchy, mitigate threats and maintain stability, while our enemies will rejoice at the spectacle of Pakistan being destroyed from within by its own sons.
Mr. Nawaz Sharif has played his game with single-minded dexterity. Driven by the nightmarish possibility of losing all that he has built (for himself and his family) and boiling hate for those that he frequently points his finger at, he can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. Only events will tell whether this light on the far side of the long dark passage is a success or an approaching train.
In my opinion, the only political force capable of obstructing the ‘Sharif Plan’ is Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, but where is PTI and what is it doing? The answer lies in clever PML-N strategy to create multiple stress points for Imran Khan and keep him occupied. The Ruling Party think tank (and there appears to be a very effective one) has perhaps identified the weak link in Khan Sahib’s leadership, i.e., lack of decentralized decision-making. Another characteristic that inhibits his response is idealism. Ideals are good, but in nine times out of ten do not work, when pitched against Machiavellian adversaries, whose strategies can only be met with effective and equivalent pragmatism. It is imperative for the Chairman PTI to understand that politics is not a gentleman’s game – politics is not cricket.
Everyone is curious to know if PML-N will go ahead with the reforms and how will the institutions affected by the legislation react? All I can say is that tabling the legislation will be an infamous act having unimaginably adverse repercussions on Pakistan’s security. It is, however, more than likely that divested of reason and in a bid to survive (no matter what the cost), Mr. Nawaz Sharif is likely to go ahead with the move. As to the other question, only time and circumstances will provide the answer. I can only hope and pray that wisdom tempered with patriotism overcomes hate and lust for power.