Where lies the solution?

In the wake of verdicts by the apex court of the country directing the election commission to, “use its utmost effort to immediately propose, keeping in mind ss. 57 and 58 of the 2017 Act, date to the president that is compliant with the aforesaid deadline. If such a course is not available, then the election commission shall in like manner propose a date for the holding of the poll that deviates to the barest minimum from the aforesaid deadline” has not fully resolved, the prevalent political turmoil though the verdict has upheld the spirit of the constitution that there should be no inordinate delay in holding the elections for the smooth transfer of powers which is sine-qua-non for essential democracy.

If democracy is allowed to run transparently and its passage is not restricted through the self-conceited approaches, the institutions function smoothly, setting the democratic traditions. In the absence thereof ‘lust for power’ is likely to create a cataclysm for the state institutions besides damaging the social and political fabric of a country. Each state in the modern world functions through a constitution that is considered the will and tradition of the people. The constitution, being the social contract binds the people and the state through the chosen representatives who exercise their authority for running affairs of the Government for the welfare of the people but sadly, it often happens more so in Pakistan’s perspective that the representatives of governments seem more interested in gaining their personal interests than the wellbeing of the people. They prefer to deviate from the spirit of the constitution sometimes under the ‘doctrine of necessity’ as was witnessed in the Tamizudin Khan case to the Al-jehad Trust case, and at times in open defiance to the wording of the Supreme court as General Pervaiz Musharaff and Yousaf Raza Gilani did so, though both faced the music in consequence thereof—the former late dictator was ousted from the power corridors by the Lawyers Movement, and the latter had to resign on account of non-compliance of the order of the apex court.

The current hullabaloo and fury caused by the government and opposition through the firebrand statements and the press conferences are creating nothing but chaos especially the stance of Rana Sanaulah, Azam Nazir Tarar, and Attorney General Shahzad Elahi over the recent verdict of the supreme court causing fuel on the fire. Besides, the unusual stance mirrors to all and sundry that the government is in no mood to hold elections.

What next then? Obviously, in case of a violation of an order, the initiation of contempt proceedings shall take place. The Apex court under Article 187 read with Articles 190 and 204 of the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan can go to any extent to implement its judgment, and, to “meet the ends of justice”. It can remove anyone even from the constitutional or statutory post who soever becomes a hurdle in the implementation of its judgment whether one is a prime minister, chief minister, or chief election commissioner, and it can even go to appoint new ones including the prime minister for the purpose of implementation of its judgment as to defend the constitution is the ultimate duty of the Supreme court who is the final arbitrator. What else then shall be left from becoming a ‘Banana Republic’? A democratic republic can only stand and survive—none else but on the rule of law settled down by the apex court of the country.

Much is being heard from the power corridors about the paucity of funds nevertheless the sole reason for not holding elections stands nowhere if seen vis-a-vis the process initiated for the digital census which is costing 35 billion rupees, an amount which is much more than required for holding elections. So, the problem is not with funds, but with the will and intention to hold elections.

Why do they show reluctance to hold elections notwithstanding that in all democracies throughout the world, winning and losing elections is part of the game of politics? Governments come and go through elections but democracy survives, bringing peace to its citizens, though one can say peace exists even in monarchies where no elections are held.

Seeing the continuous political tussle among the political players, non-holding of elections is likely to further aggravate the political instability inviting unrest, confusion, and chaos which can well be set at rest by holding elections as per the command of the constitution. Besides, the delay in elections shall equally set the political winds against the PML(N), and its allies. Hence, if the better sense prevails, the sooner the election is, the less political loss for the PDM but who will bell the cat is a million-dollar question.

Essentially, for the country to survive, prosper, and progress, the dire need is to put an end to the confusion and chaos prevalent on the stage of the political landscape through a conscious effort by all stakeholders. We cannot afford further the lust for power and self-aggrandizement when the Titanic is sinking into the morass of skyrocketing inflation, corruption, and poverty looming over us.

A panacea to all our ills lies in obedience to the constitution giving utmost respect to the sayings of the Supreme Court, the ultimate arbitrator to resolve all our conflicts failing which we shall be at a crossroads with no prospects of a prosperous future. Much is still required to be done to address the pyramid problems of the 2.4 million population who are facing grave challenges in life as their existence guaranteed under Article 9 of the constitution is in danger.

Ishtiaq Chaudhry

The writer is an advocate of the Supreme Court 
of Pakistan and can be reached 
at ishtiakch@gmail.com.

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