In the harangued Sharif debacle, the judicio-political battle of whims continues where the Supreme Court gives with one hand it takes away with the other. Where Mr. Sharif and his daughter were conceded a visit to his ailing wife, the CJP concomitantly tightened the noose of court proceedings by giving 30 days to the accountability court of Islamabad for the completion of trial in corruption references-despite the ex-premier’s counsel protesting that at least six more weeks were required to complete the proceedings.

Where the Chief Justice of Pakistan’s move to hasten the process could be attributed to his graciousness in -as he put it- ‘letting the accused persons and the nation come out from this mental suffering’, it seems that such imperiousness has been myopically concentrated to the Sharif proceedings in particular. What can be discerned is that the case proceedings seem to be punctuated by untenable deadlines and ultimatums, issued by the Chief Justice, in an adamant race to close before the votes are cast. The enforced deadlines increasingly run the risk of being deemed supercilious; for example, initially CJP Nisar had allowed only 10 more days to the trial court, chastising the counsel for their unwillingness to put in the weekends.

It can be argued that the apex court might deem it imperative that a verdict be reached before the public casts their vote, however such an impetus runs the risk of clouding the case process. It is equally crucial that the case has been thoroughly and fairly argued, without glossing over any details in haste, that might impair a fair trail. The case is not a cut and dry one, and the trial court has yet to record decisive testimonies of crucial prosecution witnesses, or allow for cross-examination by the defence counsel. Rushing the proceedings by dint of artificial deadlines only aggravates the party’s ability to present a comprehensive and cogent case, ultimately frustrating the court process and delaying, even denying, justice.

There is no present legal exigency that requires the case to be finished at a breakneck pace. In fact, such imposed urgency will only result in a muddled proceeding with reduced veracity. Ultimately, the clocked deadlines, superimposed with the finish line of the day of polls, brings the motivation of the CJP into question - is the race to the finish driven by a burgeoning need to deliver justice, or a case of political expediency.