There we were again - haggling over that old issue, the pesky interpretation of a pesky uninterpretable constitution. Old also was the spectacle of the executive, in the form of president and prime minister, and the judiciary at each others' throats over the interpretation of the constitution. This time round, for sure those who make up the presidential advisory team were clueless about the constitution, probably never having even seen that revered document, let alone read it. And, of course, even had they read it any interpretation would have been far beyond their range of comprehension. This present civilian president's choice of manpower to prop him up is as disastrous as was that of his military predecessor. Highly unedifying and certainly undemocratic are these ongoing battles between the elected or unelected heads of state, who have little or no interest in the constitution unless it can be brought forth for their own personal benefit, taking on the judges of the apex court. We are fully deserving of the international sniggers at a banana-like republic indulging in un-acrobatic antics, and it all only further adds to the battered image of this country's politics. Such is the constitution of the Islamic Republic that from the day it was promulgated it has been a bone of contention and an object to be used and manipulated by whatever leadership is in place. Within four hours of its promulgation on Independence Day 1973, the then newly-made democratic prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who had democratically tailored it to give maximum advantage to the head of government leaving the head of state as an insignificant figurehead, suspended the fundamental rights and rendered them non-justiciable for an unspecified time (as long as a state of emergency was in place) so that he could 'fix' his political opponents - which he did. In 1976 he brought in the Fifth Amendment which, inter alia, extended the period of separation of the judiciary from the executive, and fixed the tenure of the chief justices of the Supreme and High Courts. This was followed in 1977 by the Sixth Amendment by which, inter alia, chief justices of the Supreme and High Courts were to hold office for fixed tenures irrespective of the specified retirement ages. These two amendments were made solely to favour judges of ZAB's liking and to extend the term of the chief justice of Pakistan even though he had reached his retirement age. Thus was the trend set of moulding the judiciary to suit the whims and fancies of the executive. The shape of the judiciary at that point in time bore little vestiges of independence with its past record of upholding the dissolution of an assembly and a dictatorial military takeover. Then came General Ziaul Haq with his massive Eighth Amendment which entirely overturned the constitutional applecart, and his vice-like hold further browbeat a pliant judiciary into submission. His damaging amendment, affecting a number of constitutional articles that it did, rendered the constitution open to multiple interpretations according to individual tastes and desires and to divisive opinions. The constitutional and judicial haggling arose with the re-dawning of democracy in 1988, with both Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif being incapable of tolerating any signs of independence in the judiciary, and both doing their utmost to bend it to their respective wills. Nawaz Sharif, now a breast-beating champion of the independence of the judiciary, in 1997 even went to the extent of sending in his party storm-troopers to physically attack the Supreme Court building and bring to heel certain recalcitrant judges. His move succeeded, up to a point as it helped remove a sitting Chief Justice of Pakistan of whom he wished to be rid. The constant pinprick of the interpretation of the unin-terpretable came under another military dictatorship in 1999 and again the judiciary fell into place. It was not until General Pervez Musharraf's moment of March madness in 2007 that judicial independence raised its weary head, put its heels to ground, and stood up. It took it two years to prevail. And then came last weekend and the futile scuffle over the interpretation of the word 'consultation' as it appears in the mangled constitution, a reading of a dozen articles of which is necessary to attempt to make sense of one article. Was it at all necessary? Did the president's team advise him to do what he did to divert attention from the NRO issue, or what exactly was the unwise and rather stupid purpose of again taking up cudgels with the Chief Justice of Pakistan? Then, after a few days of acrimony and public burning of assorted effigies, when hug and make-up time arrived, what inspired the prime minister whose only job is to cover for his boss, the man who put him where he is, to 'gate crash' a dinner hosted by the chief justice, and then to lengthily confer with him the following day? Was all this not traditionally unseemly and against the accepted democratic norms of the executive-judicial relationship? Now, has the Constitutional Reforms Committee, which seems to have sat twiddling its thumbs since it was formed, taken into account the enormous difficulty in interpreting the constitution? Have they done anything about rendering it interpretable so that future silly wrangles do not occur? The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: