The Chief Justice, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, while addressing members of the Youth Parliament, said: “Parliament cannot make laws repugnant to the Constitution and injunctions of Islam.” He added: “The judicial institution of the state, with Supreme Court as the final arbiter, acts as the ultimate protector of the rights of citizens and serves as upholder of the constitutional supremacy.”
Having said that, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry is committed to give the nation a clean, efficient and independent judiciary. He is also determined to clean the lower judiciary. There is no denying the fact that the respect enjoyed by the higher judiciary today is well deserved and well earned, as a result of the struggle by the lawyers, members of the civil society and activists of political parties. Certainly, it should be our endeavour to protect that honour and respect. Of course, the judiciary too has to ensure speedy justice and across-the-board accountability to maintain and sustain its present position.
Pakistan is a nascent democracy; and historical evidence suggests that from the tribal and feudal epochs - with their own peculiar political systems of kingship, tribal jirga, and dictatorships - the world has progressed to the present democratic order based on the system of ‘one man, one vote’, and elected governments of fixed tenures. In other words, the stage of development, tools and modes of production determine the form of government.
In the 17th century, for example, the trading community in England united to struggle against the absolute powers of the king and the influence of the clergy. The country was ready for a change - a new order - that gave birth to the industrial revolution and consequently, the capitalistic mode of production on which the superstructure of democracy was built. The Westminster model of parliamentary democracy was the first of the modern systems that evolved, as the new classes associated with the market economy emerged. This was at best a compromise model after several battles had been fought between the royalists’ of the British aristocracy and the representatives of the emerging new classes. Everything takes time and so we must be patient. The rule of law will prevail, indeed! And those who wish to turn Pakistan into a banana republic will fail.
n The writer is a senior journalist and freelance columnist.