Govt vs govt – 16 May 2023


Throwing the state in agitation in no solution

Islamabad’s security went for a toss as the ruling dispensation stormed the high-alert Red Zone with a mob. It was an unprecedented scene as pro-government parties were seen agitating against the Supreme Court in defiance of Section 144. The district administration and the Islamabad Police looked the other way as activists from PDM parties, especially the JUI-F, went on a rampage in the federal capital, breaking into the security corridor which otherwise is under the armed forces control under Article 245 of the Constitution. Not a single teargas shell was fired, nor was anyone arrested. This open-ended discrimination has rightly led to criticism of the government’s handling of the tense situation in the capital that otherwise is harsh on the opposition’s rallies.

The day, otherwise, was seized with some important hearing at the top court, as it took up the Election Commission’s review application for not being able to hold elections in Punjab on May 14. The three-member bench, while issuing notices to the concerned, lambasted the electoral watchdog for shifting goalposts as earlier it had raised the issue of funds and security, and now has outright raised a question [mark] on the apex court’s jurisdiction. The court, nonetheless, exhibited magnanimity as it did not feel like opting for contempt charges against the PM and his cabinet, and this helped a lot in lowering the political volatility of the day.

Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial’s insistence on a dialogue among political parties is appreciated. The coalition government, which is bent upon taking the judiciary to task as it passed a resolution in the National Assembly on Monday enabling it to prepare and file references against the judges, must see reason and step back from confrontation. The plans on the part of the ruling coterie to stage a sit-in before the Supreme Court premises is nothing but brinkmanship. At the same time it is irresponsible politics. Governing the federation and managing differences of opinion is statecraft. Throwing the state in agitation in no solution.

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