LAHORE - The country’s constitutional system, it is quite obvious, is not working properly. Had it been, there would not have been the controversy that has started after the prime minister’s conviction by the Supreme Court.
The impact of the court order on the political career of Mr Yousuf Raza Gilani is the main subject of discussion in the electronic and the print media.
A senior official of the Supreme Court has sent a letter to the National Assembly Speaker, the Establishment Secretary and the Chief Election Commissioner directing them to ensure compliance of the court order.
The Chief Election Commissioner, on the other hand, has sent a communication to the Supreme Court seeking a copy of the detailed judgment to be able to determine its role in dealing with the ‘prime minister’.
This letter suggests that the court order is not clear enough, because of which the electoral body doesn’t know about its obligations.
The controversy could have been avoided had there been a mechanism in place to deal with such situations. It should have been clear to every institution and individual as to what were their duties after the order coming from the country’s top court.
In the absence of any such arrangement, the ‘convict’ has started politicising what is essentially a constitutional issue .
Mr Gilani came to the NA on Friday and delivered a long speech.
Denying that he stood disqualified as chief executive of the country, he said the mandate to unseat him rested with the NA Speaker.
Referring to the opposition’s demands for his stepping down, the leader from Multan said those wanting him out should bring a no-confidence motion against him.
True that a prime minister can also be removed through ballot, but Mr Gilani conveniently forgot that it is not the prerogative of a ‘convict’ to decide which way he will like to be thrown out. A no-trust motion is not used against a convict, a title which will stick to Mr Gilani till he is cleared by an appellate court.
He should adhere to the SC order and face the consequences.
He must bear in mind that his rhetoric that the president has constitutional immunity because of which no letter can be written against him to the Swiss authorities has not been accepted by the apex court.
The very fact that he was convicted for not writing the letter indicates that the court did not give importance to the immunity argument and wanted the prime minister to send the communication, no matter what advice his counsel extended.
His assertion that he is proud of being convicted for protecting the Constitution is simply ridiculous. The Supreme Court itself is the custodian of the Constitution. How can it punish someone for defending it?
The participation of Mr Gilani in the NA session and the permission he was accorded by the speaker to deliver a sermon shows that Dr Fehmida Mirza is following the party line about the prime minister. And if she has to take a decision on whether the prime minister stands disqualified in the light of the Supreme Court order, she is not expected to send any reference against him.
Mr Gilani’s counsel Aitzaz Ahsan has already said that if the Speaker is satisfied that no reference can be sent against the prime minister, the matter will come to an end.
The PPP is determined to keep Mr Gilani in the driving seat at all costs. The coalition partners – PML-Q, MQM and the Awami National Party - have also put their weight behind Mr Gilani.
In such a situation the opposition parties will have to work out their future strategy very carefully. It will be better if they follow a course that doesn’t add to the problems of the common man. Protests and long marches hinted at by the PML-N would not serve any useful purpose. They would only aggravate the situation.
Since an independent judiciary is there, courts should be moved in case the opposition parties think that Mr Gilani is no longer the prime minister and his cabinet has ceased to exist.
This is the most appropriate way of settling a constitutional controversy.