Political or constitutional issue?  

For almost a month, we have been hearing that it is mandatory for elections to be held within 90 days of the dissolution of a provincial assembly by the Chief Minister (CM) of that province, as mandated by the constitution. However, what is confusing is that two provincial assemblies were dissolved almost simultaneously, with a gap of just three days. The Punjab Provincial Assembly was dissolved on January 14, while the KPK Assembly was dissolved on January 17. On February 11, 2023, the Lahore High Court (LHC) issued a judgment stating that elections must be held within 90 days as per the constitution. In my humble opinion, the matter was considered settled unless there was an intra-court appeal that decided otherwise or the judiciary reviewed the judgment based on Article 63A.

However, the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP), in its wisdom, chose to take suo moto notice on February 22 of a settled issue. What further puzzles me is that if suo moto notice was taken in the case of the Punjab Assembly, why not for the dissolution and elections in KPK within 90 days? The SCP should restrain itself from intruding into the jurisdiction of the executive or the parliament and should regulate its use of suo moto powers. The constitution emphatically elaborates on the trichotomy of powers.

Pakistan has suffered previously due to this unnecessary judicial activism. For example, the Reko Diq agreement, signed on July 23, 1993, was declared null and void in January 2013, resulting in a penalty of $6.5 billion imposed on the country. The Reko Diq agreement was purely an executive decision, whether rightly or wrongly concluded by the state, and the intervention by the SCP did not consider the international obligations involved. Numerous construction irregularities, such as Avenue One in Islamabad, were regularized based on third-party interests for the benefit of the powerful elite.



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