AZAM KHALIL If the chief party, whichever it be the people, or the army, or the nobility, which you think most useful and of most consequence to you for the conversation of your dignity, be corrupt, you must follow their humour and indulge them, and in that case honesty and virtue are pernicious. - Machiavelli The spectacle was the same, this time round a few women and a large number of men in black coats were seen dancing in a mad frenzy 'celebrating' the decision of the Supreme Court on the contentious issue of the National Reconciliation Ordinance. Even the justices did not lag behind in the dramatic events that unfolded before the actual judgement was announced because the entire country was held hostage by the decision for painfully long hours to a decision that had been known even before the case had been taken up by the Supreme Court. The government on its part had decided not to touch the NRO, as they knew its fate and the man in the street was aware that the ordinance would be ruthlessly struck down. So there were no surprises in the decision but in a moment of emotion or perhaps weakness the decision created an impression as if the judicial pillar of the government had tried to encroach on the powers of the executive. This impression was now being widely debated and for some did not auger well for the institution of democracy. Interestingly, while the lawyers were celebrating the decision against corruption, some of their colleagues had earlier taken rounds of the same high court premises and bribed some officials so that they could obtain favourable edge on cases pending adjudication with different justices. It is an open secret that if you can pay the proper price you can purchase time for your case or even strike an arrangement where a specific case is sent and placed before a particular judge. A senior judge of the Lahore High Court had confided with his friends that minutes before he took oath as CJ, he had bribed a court official to get what is called a date in office for his writ petitions that were under process at the court. Coming back to the 17-member unanimous decision of the Supreme Court on the issue of NRO, the only startling point in the decision was the complete agreement between such a large number of judges on an issue that was both controversial and volatile for the entire country. It is only a dream that the entire country should follow in the footsteps of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and display such stunning harmony and unity amongst its ranks. Besides the expected severe criticism of the ordinance, the judges made certain observations in the judgement and issued directions to the concerned authorities that were perhaps not in their domain. The judgement created an impression as if it wanted certain individuals to be posted in certain positions, which is only the prerogative of the executive branch and has nothing to do with the judiciary. Secondly, when the judgement ordered that the government should make arrangements to reopen the Swiss case against President Asif Ali Zardari it amounted to targeting the president. This observation came in spite the fact that Article 248 and the act of sovereignty of this country allows total immunity to the president against prosecution in any criminal proceeding till the time he is holding the office of the President of Pakistan. The same facility is available to all the governors and no judgement can break this arrangement, unless it is revoked by an act of Parliament. Some analysts have also noted that the court has perhaps tried to influence Parliament by telling them that the courts have the jurisdiction to review all acts of Parliament. Here one is reminded about a nasty situation which arose in the province of Punjab when a group of MPAs moved a privilege motion against a sitting judge of the Lahore High Court. This created a serious and ugly situation for the then government and it was only after hectic efforts of the then Governor of Punjab that the issue was resolved. It also drew the lines of jurisdiction between the provincial legislature and judges of the High Court. It would have been much better if there had been no hype attached with the decision of the Supreme Court and the judges should have worked quietly as is the case in all other decisions that are taken by them. The media hype and the one-sided reporting carried out by a particular group also left a bad taste in the mouth and should have been prohibited by the judges keeping in view the sanctity not only of the government, but also of the Supreme Court. After the decision the Supreme Court is now under some pressure to hurry up with other cases pending before their lordships such as the distribution of money by ISI for political purposes. The judges are also being asked to dig deep into the circumstances that led to the loss of billions of rupees in loans written off without much of a hassle in the previous years. The people are also demanding that the Supreme Court take up the case that were pending with Justice Tiwana under Lahore High Court and also to dig deep into the cooperate scandal where the poor people of this country lost their entire life's savings in a scam that was facilitated by the government of the day. In case the judges failed to take up these issues, there would be many cynics who would then question the proxy war that was undertaken by the Supreme Court on behalf of those powers who are always considered to be against the democratic forces of the country. One hopes that in the days to come the Supreme Court, Parliament and the Executive authority of the country continue to play the role that has been assigned to them by the Constitution of Pakistan and no one tries to overtake the constitution, otherwise the foul smell that is already in the air may burst like a stinking bomb enveloping the entire country. All these branches of the government have a great responsibility on their shoulders and they should allay the fears being expressed in several quarters that some sort of conspiracy was going on to once again subvert the will of the people of this country. In case there are any extra-constitutional measures adopted in Pakistan, the already precarious position could result in a total collapse of the country where God forbid the first casualty could be the integrity and independence of Pakistan. As far as the NRO is concerned, it would be better if the reopened cases were allowed to take a normal course through the courts and the system of monitoring that has been introduced by the Supreme Court does not play a role, otherwise much more meaning would be attached to the present decision of the court than what it normally should be. That would create a dangerous precedent in this country. It may be pertinent to recall that one Prime Minister of Pakistan was hanged under section 109 PPC for which there is no other precedent in the entire history of this country. And as such no more similar precedents should be created that have strong political tones and the judges should only be seen to be instruments for the dispensation of justice. Here one is reminded of what Jefferson in the year 1801 had said about justice: "The sword of the law should never fall but on those whose guilt is so apparent as to be pronounced by their friends as well as foes." The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: