The federal cabinet’s approval for introducing bills in the National Assembly that would allow the holders of dual nationality to become Members of Parliament and Provincial Assemblies and exempt certain top functionaries of the state from the purview of the law on contempt of court may not bear fruit. According to press reports, both the PML-N and the ANP are determined to oppose the proposed piece of legislation on dual nationality, making it impossible for the government to get a two-thirds majority to have a constitutional amendment passed on the subject. On the contempt of court issue, the position is somewhat confused. However, some legal experts have no doubt that any legislations or constitutional amendments incorporating the government’s wishes in either case would be struck down by the Supreme Court since they fall foul of the spirit, if not the letter, of the Constitution. But, whatever the final outcome, it is clear that the move would take the acute tension already existing between the two institutions of the state several notches higher. On both the issues, the judges have already spoken, though their verdicts, and by attempting to overturn these verdicts, the government wants to send a strong message to the judiciary that it would persist in its obdurate defiance.
As for the contempt of court the story goes back to December 2009 when the apex court pronounced its judgment on the NRO. As the Zardari-led setup did not wish, under any circumstances, to reopen the cases of money laundering against Mr Zardari, the only course that could save him was disobedience of the court. The long saga of defiance finally resulted in the disqualification of Mr Yousuf Raza Gilani and the bill is intended to give him a cover as well as to the incumbent Prime Minister. And to achieve its ends, the government is ready to even pervert the very structure of the Constitution.
Perhaps, the best way out of the crisis is to stop the unseemly confrontation and go for a fresh mandate from the people.