Court vs Parliament – 28 Apr 2023

The ruckus is leading the nation nowhere

The Supreme Court hearing on Thursday in the elections delay case has sent in some right signals. The three-member bench under Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial was of the considerate opinion that it could not force the government to hold talks with the opposition, and also stopped short of suggesting a new timeline.

This is a positive development, and comes in relevance to the letter from the Speaker of the National Assembly to the CJP, stating that the parliament could not be coerced into parleys and its prerogative be given due space. But the top court was firm as far as asserting itself, and stated in categorical terms that its earlier order to hold the elections in Punjab on May 14 is valid, and the constitutional dictum shall prevail.

As the proceedings of the day were abruptly adjourned and a detailed order was awaited, it sent shivers down the spine. The coalition government, which is adamant that it will not be holding the polls on May 14 for reasons of political exigency, seems to have reacted by opting for a vote of confidence for Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, and this obviously hints at crossing swords with the judiciary. The ruckus is leading the nation nowhere.

The stance on the part of the government is mired in political reasoning, and is openly in defiance of the dictates of the Constitution. Moreover, as observed by the honourable bench, the government is opting for time-buying tactics by delaying meaningful talks with the opposition, and the order to hold polls on May 14 is being flouted. Last but not least, the fact that the judiciary’s keen interest in regulating political affairs is now being openly questioned and contested by the elected representatives, as is evident from the tit-for-tat trust vote on Monday, makes the working equation sour to the core.

A decent exit strategy is a must, and both the organs of the state must lean back to look at the wider picture with the common denominator of holding the Constitution in high esteem. This is how the polarised mosaic can be cleansed for a fair relationship as per law.

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