In civilised societies, the writ of the apex court is considered to be supreme in interpretation and enforcement of law and matters constitutional. In good practice, this supremacy extends even across Parliament and its members. This dispensation becomes all the more relevant to Pakistan, as our legislators and politicians, with only a few exceptions, stand chin deep in corruption and moral bankruptcy.

The apex courts anywhere in the world symbolise a forum where justice is ultimately available without prejudice to caste, custom or religion. This is what turns these institutions into supreme instruments of retribution by those that are wont to treat laws as garbage. It is, perhaps, this fear coupled with naïve bravado that pervades the corridors of power in Islamabad forcing the rulers to adopt a strategy aimed at a policy of confrontation and denigration of this venerable forum.

The shenanigans of our Prime Minister, his lackeys, and most recently, Mr Bilawal Bhutto Zardari appear to be part of the Russian Roulette that our current leadership is playing with itself and, in the process, with the country. Our Chief of the Executive appears before the court in a beautifully stage-managed manner. His demeanour is submissive and compliant, but lo and behold, he addresses a public meeting on his home turf and uses a language that is nothing short of derisive towards the authority wielded by the honourable judges of the Supreme Court and the institution they serve.

Not to be outdone, Mr Bilawal appears on stage at the death anniversary of his illustrious grandfather and demands that the court should tender an apology for the execution of the elected Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. I, for one, am convinced that a grave miscarriage of justice was perpetrated, when Mr Bhutto was hanged after a trial where the verdict was, perhaps, a forgone conclusion. However, for Bilawal to utter such nonsense was not only lacking in dignity, but also ‘using the glove’ on a venerable institution.

In another development, Mr Babar Awan, the fiery PPP gladiator has fallen from grace for refusing to appear in defence of the PM in the contempt case. Is it that Mr Awan, who by all rights is an accomplished lawyer and a loyal Bhutto activist, has finally seen the sheer stupidity of mocking the writ of the apex court or is it a manifestation of the adage 'pride comes before a fall'? I can recall the man standing before the assembled press making the famous statement that ended with his licence being temporarily suspended. It has been reported in the press that Mr Awan, who was in India for a conference, tried to seek an audience with our President during the latter's recent sojourn to Ajmer, but was effectively thwarted by the security staff, who were under strict instructions not to allow him anywhere near Mr Zardari.

The hostility between the Sharif’s and Mr Zardari has now regretfully overtaken institutional dignity. The refusal of the Punjab Chief Minister to receive the President, no matter what the acrimony, is in bad taste as it demonstrates that personal feelings have overridden the call of duty. On the other side, the President’s statement that he can smash the Sharif’s into nothing or words to this effect should not have been given as a matter of presidential decorum.

The people of Pakistan should now start asking themselves some relevant and critical questions, the answers to which may well mean our survival or otherwise. Why can’t the political system in Pakistan ‘not’ throw up a leader from the middle classes and why must the electorate repeatedly commit collective suicide by voting on the basis of caste and kinship, instead of ability and character? When will the people of Pakistan break the vicious cycle of hereditary leadership?

The answers to these questions lie within ourselves and the apathy of the 60 percent of the silent majority, who do not exercise their right of adult franchise. It is this majority that can shatter the political cartels that have misgoverned and plundered this ‘land of the pure’. It is this majority that will bring about the change to salvage Jinnah’s Pakistan from the clutches of extremism, nepotism, corruption and mayhem.

n    The writer is a freelance columnist.