The entire nation expected the crisis over the judiciary to be resolved last week, only to find that the so-called resolution carried within it the seeds of the prolongation of the crisis, with the benefit accruing entirely to one personality, the President. The last week saw the Dubai meeting, where delegations of the PPP and the PML-N, headed by the respective parties' heads, finally agreed on an expansion of a committee. Apparently much ado about nothing, until the members of the committee began resigning one, Ch Aitzaz Ahsan, after the other, Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim. The resignations again played into the hands of one particular personality with a deep personal interest in the results of the judges' issue, and thus of the committee's deliberations, the President himself. It is assumed by supporters that the judges, once restored, will ensure the rule of law. But how can they do that without interfering in the work of the executive. Let it be clearly understood that while the executive is supposed to derive its authority from the law, and to function accordingly, in Pakistan it derives its authority from the perception of greater force at its disposal. This explains the success of military rule (four imposed so far), because the military ruler, or rather his multiple subordinate who is the military man the representative of the executive (whether clerk, policeman or revenue official) has to deal with, has more force than the representative, and thus is easily able to make him obey orders. The courts, if allowed to interfere in the work of the executive, verify, upon challenge, whether the executive (or whoever) has followed the law. And that is the rule of law, which the Supreme Court tried to implement, and the entire nation has had to pay such a high price for, and especially the judiciary. Indeed, though the President quoted it as a crime which the Chief Justice committed, interference in the work of the executive is about as concise a definition of rule of law as that concept is about to get. At bottom, it recognizes that the executive is over-bearing and loves to exceed its powers, and the judiciary, empowered by a written constitution, acts as a counterweight for the citizen, usually ordinary, sometimes extraordinary. As a result, the executive becomes like a tortoise, and surrounds itself with a shell of legality, created by the laws and rules on the subject which the bureaucrat is administering, or trying to administer, and uses this shell to ward off attempts by the ordinary citizen to do something else, usually what he wants to do. Occasionally, the courts catch out the bureaucrat; and they rule that the bureaucrat has exceeded the authority given to him under the rules, or the Act, or the very constitution itself. The bureaucrat is not punished for his temerity, but the law is struck down by the court, and the citizen is free to spread that enemy of all bureaucracies, chaos. A corollary is that the courts would recognize no necessity, or any doctrine thereof, and would not accept any martial law, or military rule. After all, military rule is the biggest of all illegalities, but the courts have been trained not to interfere in the work of the executive. But only the courts do not interfere in the work of the executive. So do foreign powers fighting a War On Terror, and which see Pakistan as an incipient democracy, which requires a number of conditions to be fulfilled, one being the rule of law. Once the foreign hand is acknowledged, then there are other legal pitfalls ahead, such as intellectual property rights, efficient and speedy dispute resolution mechanism, and a whole lot of concepts that our judges are willing to pay lip service to, so long as they are not actually implemented. Apart from those concepts, the War On Terror countries also have democracy at home. So they had no cogent reason to oppose democracy in Pakistan, and an even bigger lobby supported the lawyers in their desire for the rule of law. Lawyers support the rule of law because it makes soldiers of them: they can predict the outcome of most cases, by weighing up the arguments on either side, just as much as a soldier should be able to predict the outcome of a battle by a survey of the forces arrayed against each other. Lawyers have connected the ousted judges with the rule of law, and the rule of law is seen by some as the nation's bulwark against future military rule, which shall in future be found to have exceeded the legal authority which declared it. The judges, it must be noted, have made no such promise, though there is one Supreme Court obiter dicta to the effect that the Law of Necessity is no longer recognized, which is clear evidence that the judiciary is interfering in the work of the executive, and is no longer willing to be a party to the imposition of military rule or, more relevant, to any previous impositions, or their continuance? Perhaps more important, for today's colonels, the future is also cut off, with no comforting judgement in sight. If they cannot be the coupmakers tomorrow, why should they follow so loyally the coup makers of today? This is the problem that has made the court's attitude an immediate issue, and not one for the future. It must also be noted that without the courts having the right approach, the prosecution of the War On Terror is rendered doubtful. Thus while the foreign supporters of the lawyers' movement can see the need for democracy and the rule of law in Pakistan, they can also see the need for the War On Terror to succeed. Therefore they will not support any step which leads to the loss of the USA's greatest supporter in the region, even if this preservation means the end of democracy and rule of law in Pakistan. Therefore, for the foreign supporters, the judges are expendable. And therefore, the issue will probably not be resolved until resolution itself becomes meaningless in the Pakistani context. E-mail: