For the last four years, the pillars that establish good governance in a country, namely the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary, have been at loggerhead with each other.

The government insists that parliament is supreme, while the judiciary’s stand has been that the constitution and the laws of the country are supreme. And in this turf war, the system of governance has been paralyzed and the credibility and the authority of the judiciary has been undermined.

The PM, in open defiance to the SC orders, had categorically stated that he is not a peon, but a PM and will not obey or implement the SC orders and would rather face the gallows or jail, but will not betray his mentor.

And to further humiliate and embarrass the Supreme Court, the government deliberately appointed former minister for Water and Power, who is one of the accused in the RPP scandal, as Federal Minister of IT and Telecom, to which the CJ had remarked, ‘Plunderers have been appointed as ministers’.

The SC had rejected the National Accountability Bureau report on the implementation of the court’s order in the Rental Power Projects and had directed the NAB chairman to resubmit the compliance report within seven days.

However, in open defiance, according to the media, ‘The NAB officials fell short of showering flowers on the accused minister and were visibly obsequious in their efforts to please him’. Such is the seriousness of the NAB officials to respect and implement a Supreme Court orders.

While in their various speeches, the President and PM have taunted and challenged the SC and have accused it of being on a witch-hunt and biased against the PPP.

The young 24 year old Chairman of the Party had even brazenly ordered the PM that: ‘Mr. Prime Minister, you will not write the letter to the Swiss Courts, regarding the US$ 60 million account in the Swiss Bank and desecrate the graves of our martyrs. You may lose your office, you may lose your government, but you must do what is right.’     

Surely, the right thing for Mr. Yusuf Raza Gilani, as Prime Minister of Pakistan, would be to respect and obey the SC orders and not the orders of his party chiefs.

Yet despite this show of defiance, the SC continued to be patient and lenient. This has given a perception in the Awam that the SC is unnecessarily dragging out cases of national interest and decisions are not forth coming.

This is not only hurting the image and credibility of the SC, but also weakening the national institutions, allowing bad governance and corruption to flourish in the country.  At the same time, the criticism of the failure of the SC to improve the judicial functions and to eliminate corruption from the courts is justified. These delays in hearings and in passing judgments by the courts are also responsible for tarnishing the credibility and the prestige of the courts.

Well, back to real time. The nail biting, high profile drama that has been playing in Court No. 4 of the SC, has finally come to an end. The nation had expected 26th of April as the Waterloo for Yusuf Raza Gilani, the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, a nuclear country and a front line state for the war against terror.

The PM, instead of his usual motor cavalcade, decided to walk to the steps of the SC, together with all the King’s men and women, who were there to show their solidarity.  

But instead of the hall mark judgment that was expected, the short order that was read out in court, turned out to be a damp squid and ‘much a do about nothing’.

The court announced that the PM was ‘guilty as charged’ and his punishment would be a mind-boggling thirty seconds. The judgment could be eligible for the Guinness World Book of Records for being the shortest jail sentence that any world leader has ever received.

The ‘Storm in a tea cup’ drama that had paralyzed the system of governance and the judiciary for many months was over in a blink of an eye. No wonder the PM listened to the ‘sentence’ with a cynical smile. 

The questions that are now being asked are, is insulting and showing disrespect to the Supreme Court of Pakistan worth only a punishment of just thirty seconds? And would an ordinary citizen who had repeatedly refused to implement the SC orders and had deliberately humiliated and ridiculed the Court, be meted out the same punishment?

Whether the judgment was politically correct and in the best interest of Pakistan, only time will tell. However, the judgment has avoided a political meltdown and a direct clash between the Executive and the Judiciary.

However, in the process, it has certainly diminished the prestige and the credibility of the SC and of the Hon. Judges that sit on the bench, but for an ordinary citizen like me, both the judgment and the punishment were a disappointment.   The SC could have sent a loud and clear message to the nation that everyone was accountable and no one was above the law, but sadly, that was not to be and now the Go Zardari chant has turned to Go Gilani Go. 

Instead, the 60-second punishment for the PM, who had challenged, humiliated and ridiculed the CJ, sent the message that there was one law for the rich and powerful and another for the poor, suffering Awam. Such is the tragedy of this nation. 

Many are of the opinion that the PM has lost his moral authority to be the PM of Pakistan and should resign, while the PPP jyalas warn that any attempt to remove the PM, would be met with stiff resistance.  

What is ironic is, Aitzaz Ahsan, the very man who bravely marched with his brother lawyers to restore the CJ and faced lathi charge, is helping the PM to flout the same CJ’s orders.

What happens next in Quaid’s Pakistan is not clear, but one thing is certain, the political crisis is not over and the nura-kushti and muk-muka between the government and the opposition will continue, allowing Ali Baba and his forty thieves to further loot and plunder the nation without fear of punishment.

And our cities will continue to burn, the citizens will continue to complain and be the sacrificial lambs at the alter of democracy and the graves of its past leaders.

              (Email: trust@helplinetrust.org).