Pakistan’s democratic system is facing the biggest challenge in the face of the current judiciary-government conflict. Supreme Court of Pakistan and Chief Justice Saqib Nisar are seriously taking on the federal and provincial government’s performances. The CJ is taking a number of suo moto notices in Punjab and Sindh in order to check the provincial government’s performance of PML-N and the PPP respectively, as what he claim is his constitutional responsibility in the masses’ interest.
The honourable CJ rightly thinks that being governed by an honest leadership is a basic right of the people of Pakistan. When some political sages point out that the Judiciary-Government (PML-N) tussle might derail democracy in Pakistan and may invite the army’s intervention, the CJ says that he is the guardian of the rule of constitution and democracy and that he would resist any kind of attempt to destabilise Pakistan’s democratic system. His statement is a good omen as it is his constitutional duty to protect the constitution. However, he needs to focus on other constitutional duties as well.
People expect that the CJ, as the guardian of the constitution, should have asked the government why Tehrik e Labaik Pakistan crippled Lahore by blocking all exit and entry points despite a court issued warrant against its leader Khadim Rizvi, calling for his arrest?
The public also expects him to take suo moto regarding the frequency of missing persons incidents, or at least, he should hear the already filed petitions by the families of those missing. He should order the production of all missing persons before him and direct the authorities to treat them by the book. Family of Raza Khan, a peace activist, went missing in December 2017, are looking for the bare minimum. They want the court or the government or the army to at least tell them about his whereabouts, or if he’s still alive. Raza’s family is not the only one, there are thousands who are dealing with the same tragic dilemma.
Since the CJ has been keeping a hawk’s eye on the government’s performance and actions, the people want the CJ to take another suo moto and call PPP and PML-N leaders to inquire about the action they took against the culprits of IJI Funding Case, in which the Supreme Court had directed the PPP government at the time to decide the punishment for the retired generals on its own. However, even the PPP did not touch them. The same goes with PML-N and its leader, Nawaz Sharif. He also remained silent as he and his party were beneficiaries of the funding, disbursed to various political groups in 1988 and 1990 to block PPP’s victory.
The people of Pakistan have plenty of other expectations from the honourable CJ, but they are fearful of expressing them openly. They just want to convey their message to you, in the words of Frederick Douglass, “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”