Dr. Farooq Hassan In a country like Pakistan, the armys role is undoubtedly of great significance not merely as a military matter, but in terms of political dynamics through which the nation may pass. As sucha meeting between the President and the COAS on November 14 may be perceived given the realities of the current political scenario of Pakistan. The acute observer will notice the underlying facts mentioned hereinafter to come to an appropriate conclusion. Here is a weak Head of State meeting the strongest single repository of actual State power in the background of various other powers that may be all vying for supremacy inter se. To understand the significance of this one-to-one meeting, some contemporary salient facts have to be noticed. I feel that there are three important points that need to be highlighted: i The latest US views on Pakistan and its government; i Local developments of public knowledge; and i Views of the Chief Justice and Prime Minister on the question of unlawful changeover of the government. As far as the latest US perception of Pakistan is concerned, we may note the implications and innuendos vis--vis Pakistan from the style of Americas raid on Abbottabad, subsequent high level of drone attacks on the country and the latest Pakistan bashing in the ongoing presidential debates of the Republicans. Pakistan took a lot of criticism in the latest Republican presidential debate, which was aired on CNN with a leading candidate saying it was nearly a failed State. While another suggested that the US should cut its foreign aid to zero. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney said that Pakistan has multiple centres of power, including the relatively weak civilian leadership, the military and the powerful intelligence agency ISI. "The right way to deal with Pakistan is to recognise that it is not a country, like other countries, with a strong political centre that you can go to and say, 'Gee, can we come here, will you take care of this problem?'" Romney said. "This is instead a nation, which is close to being a failed State. I hope it doesn't reach that point, but it's really a fragile nation," he maintained. With these thoughts in mind I began todays work with the emphasis on both the words, country and Pakistan. As far as the most recent local developments are concerned, importantly crucial events relating to national elections and power dynamics of the political powers may well have occurred. The PML-N senior leader Khawaja Asif has revealed that they will resign from the National Assembly within two months. He explained that Parliament had become inactive for half a year, which Shah Mehmood Qureshi realised now. Then the Senate polls are of huge significance, as the PPP thinks it can win a majority because of having a numerical strength and get a substantial number of seats in the Upper Chamber. But with the opposition out to deny this eventuality from taking effect, it can and will resort to constitutional manoeuvres. PPPs Information Secretary Qamar Zaman Kaira has termed the elements trying to hinder the Senate election as enemies of democracy. While talking to the media, along with PPP leader Makhdoom Shahabuddin on November 15th, Kaira slammed Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who resigned from the PPP and the National Assembly on Monday, said: Why Quershi didnt see betrayal with Benazirs legacy while enjoying the Ministry. It is also worthwhile to emphasise that Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Firdous Awan on the same day said: en bloc resignations would prove to be a drone attack on the democratic setup and Parliament. This brings us to examine the third point mentioned above, namely the sentiments of the Chief Justice and Prime Minister about the consequences of illegal change-over of the government. Why were these statements issued at this juncture? It may well be coincidental, but the fact remains that having seen these statements, one has to ponder over. Speaking before the defence establishments elite participants presently undergoing training in the National Defence University (NDU) course earlier this week, the CJ said: The Supreme Court declared in its July 31 verdict that anybody who would violate the Constitution would be considered as traitor. As a dogmatic assertion of the pre-emptor norm of law, this enunciation of the correct position is fundamentally self-evident. My own researches in this field were published by Stanford University, entitled A juridical critique of successful treason. In which, the history of constitutionality of coups was analysed in modern times, starting with the advent of this phenomenon in the early history of the US. However, Pakistans own history of such cases provides us with enough material for undertaking the necessary prognosis of what may happen in such an eventuality. Even without the judgment given by the Supreme Court on July 31, 2009, there is sufficient case law within Pakistan to categorically support such a result. The case law to which reference can be made to come to this preliminary conclusion is directly or indirectly derived from the jurisprudence of such cases as begins with Asma Jilani matter of 1971 and goes on with other cases such as Mehmood Achekzai, Al-Jihad Trust case, Benazir Bhutto case of 1988 and that of Nawaz Sharif case of 1993. Legally, it is simple that the military has no juridical power to take over the government of the country through a coup. Yet, if heavens forbid and if this is precisely that occurs, how and what should be the enquiry that is required? If the coup does take place, then what happens? By definition if the coup is successful, then the judges go with the ouster of the Constitution. The judges will, probably, be inducted anew, certainly loyal to the usurpers regime. Will they honour such a judicial legacy? I leave this question for posterity to answer. Here, we may recall that when the 1973 Constitution was promulgated there was a good deal of debate when Article 6 was made. Mr Bhutto, the then Prime Minister, proclaimed that it would end the spate of military takeovers; but did it deter the would-be usurpers to stay away from that conduct? Regrettably, not only coup took place, but that he was hanged by the coup makers. There is accordingly, I am afraid the inquiry that is necessary to try to answer the basic question posed by the problem of unconstitutional takeover of the government by the military. If any answer, it is to be found in the Rhodesian UDI case of Lardner Burke vs. Madzimbuto decided in 1965. Anyway, the country owes the greatest debt to the present judiciary, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar, for the revival of the rule of law. He stood between Musharrafs dictatorship and the democratic forces. So, it is worthwhile to emphasise the personal contributions of our CJ in this epoch-making struggles, in which the majority of the lawyers stood beside him. It is a matter of record to remember that the CJ said: The judges of higher courts have written in their code of conduct that any judge who will take another oath under another the PCO will be guilty of treason. The participants of NDU were reminded by his observations that the Supreme Court declared in its July 31 verdict that anybody who would violate the Constitution would be considered as traitor. Thus, with the international scene moving rapidly in which we find all kinds of bad actors having a time of their lives, it is difficult to predict with certainty what may actually happen. But it is certain that President Zardari has much to fear from this uncertainty - not only there is the lingering fear of the corruption cases Switzerland about money laundering, which he was able to thwart despite the orders to the contrary by the Supreme Court in the NRO judgment, and for the recent disclosures about his role in allowing the drone attacks to continue and the question relating to the controversy surrounding the Mansoor Ijaz affair. The other major factor is the emergence of Imran, which must send shivers the spine of many such evil actors of today. The writer is a barrister at law (UK and US), senior advocate of the Supreme Court, advisor to four Pakistans premiers on International and Legal Affairs, special UN ambassador for Family, and special international ambassador to UN for Aged People.