Mohammad Akram Sheikh The political environment is rife with rumours about a likely extra-constitutional change of the government, sooner rather than later. Noted journalists have written numerous articles on the subject. Last Thursday, Dr Babar Awan invited senior journalists to a lunch in Lahore and discussed with them what he described as a possible contemplation by intelligence agencies for change of government on Bangladesh model. What is Bangladesh model? In Bangladesh, after frequent breakdowns of democratic governments because of deep corruption and other factors, the establishment, with the obvious though tacit blessing of the judiciary, installed a setup with the former Chief Justice of Bangladesh as the Chief Executive and the technocrats as members of his cabinet, aiding and advising him to rid the country of corrupt politicians and thus pave the way for a clean and stable democracy. The role of the judiciary for oversight of administrative actions was recognized by this model and full military support was available to the executive for implementation of its decisions. The Bangladesh Supreme did not immediately declare this model as unconstitutional, though, after elaborate hearing of the matter, it has recently declared it as ultra vires, directing the establishment to hold fresh elections and restore the constitutional order. In Pakistan, with regard to judiciary, the exact opposite is the case. After 60 years of joining hands with the establishment through every martial law, our post-March 16 independent judiciary is determined to completely bury this embarrassing aspect. The result is that it has shown remarkable patience and extreme judicial restraint in the face of unprecedented corruption and unconstitutional steps. The Supreme Court (SC) explicitly ruled on NRO, on Haris Steel Mills case, in NICL case it noted the deliberate defiance of its orders of the executive, including the naked and most belligerent endeavours to obstruct justice by frustrating investigation into corruption of its components, but it still showed a determination not to pass any order that may result in destabilising the present democratic set-up. One may differ with this overcautious judicial restraint, but if the agony suffered at the hand of military dictators, particularly Musharraf and his November 3 emergency, one could understand the reason behind this conscious judicial approach to allow the system of governance to continue and correct itself through the in-built checks and balances of democracy and politics. This determination of the SC is evident from its decisions in the Sindh High Court Bar Association and Nadeem Ahmads case, Dr Mubashar Hassans case challenging NRO and the Bank of Punjab vs. Haris Steel case. In the former case, the SC has stated its clear approach as follows: Therefore, the military rule, direct or indirect, is to be shunned once and for all. Let it be made clear that it was wrongly justified in the past and it ought not to be justified in future on any ground, principle, doctrine or theory whatsoever. Military rule is against the dignity, honour and glory of the nation that it achieved after great sacrifices 62 years ago; it is against the dignity and honour of the people of Pakistan, who are committed to upholding the sovereignty and integrity of the nation by all means; The above is the moral dimension of the so-called Bangladesh model in the recent historical context of Pakistan, especially the movement for restoration of judiciary and rule of law. From the practical point of view too, the possibility of Bangladesh model deserves to be excluded from any serious discussion about the future of constitutionalism in Pakistan. The possibility of Bangladesh model being applied in Pakistan assumes the presence and willingness of main forces of power within the state to join hand in an environment of mutual trust, be on exactly the same page on the sources of problems and to agree on a certain model of Bangladesh kind and then to find a way to implement it. So, who are the possible proposers and implementers of this model? The fountains of power in Pakistan, namely army and judiciary, are not even in communication. Add to this fact the presence of powerful bar councils all over the country. Also, major governing and opposite parties, despite all their differences, have shown a tacit commitment not to allow themselves to be shunted out of the national scene just to make way for this or that experiment in constitutionalism. Last, but not the least, the educated urban middle class that, by showing an unprecedented interest and concern in the way that Pakistan is governed, has left it in no doubt that it too is a major power player within our state. And even if all these players discuss and come to a decision that throwing the 1973 Constitution in a dustbin and adopting a new constitutional model is the cure for all the ills of Pakistan, can they do it all in the glaring light of one of the most ferociously independent media in the world that can be relied upon, round the clock, for reporting and dissecting each move of any person of significance in Pakistan, to simply allow it without forcing each participants to explain and justify their actions and motive on every turn of any such national bargain? As I said, even from practical angle, the possibility of adoption of a Bangladesh model in Pakistan is a total non-starter. Will we be able to just continue on the path of rule of law without falling off the edge of the constitutional page? By every passing day, the answer to this question seems increasingly 'unlikely. Let me close with one last thought. All of us, including this writer, who have and who will continue to be wedded to the idea of constitutionalism, should not forget that all constitutions and all laws and the whole system of democracy exist for the people and not vice versa and they lose all their moral value if, instead of serving as the best medium for solving the problems of ordinary people, they serve as a hindrance to the achievement of that overriding objective. If constitution and democracy continue to be seen by the masses as not serving their needs, then they will both stand shorn of any value whatsoever, in which case, no matter how much we pretend otherwise, we who claim to be better educated in jurisprudence and rule of law, will lose our moral right to continue insisting that the people to whom constitutionalism has brought nothing but lack of food, lack of security of life, no electricity, no jobs and no hope, should continue to believe in constitution and democracy and rule of law. So morally and practically, the choice is only between two possibilities: continuing on the current path of constitutionalism and democracy or an army-imposed civilian government, obviously without the blessing and hence over the head of the judiciary. Everyday that this government continues to play havoc with the state and its organs, no matter how much we dislike it, the moral case and the practical possibility of the latter possibility is bound to increase. The writer is a senior advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan Email: akramsheikharticles@gmail.com