The judiciary is considered a vital pillar of national strength. Justice is the fulcrum that keeps people contended and ensures the respectful image of any society. Pakistans bleak period of military rule from General Ayub Khan to General Pervez Musharraf is a saga of utter degradation of the apex court, which 'legitimised ouster of the elected leaders on contrived pleas of corruption and inefficiency, and Parliament compliantly endorsed the judgments. The outgoing dictator, who was given a proper send-off under the civil government, as if he were a rightful ruler, was an act which shows how puerile is our political mind. A viable military is indeed a very important element of national power, but it must not transgress its obligation to remain glued to its professional acumen, and be in a state of constant readiness to take on the 'enemy, should it embark upon any adventure against Pakistan. The blunder Musharraf committed resulted in the Kargil fiasco. I once had an opportunity to visit Sri Lanka to attend a Conference on Brahimi Commission Report on UN Peace Keeping Operation (2002), which was attended by top brass retired military officers from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, besides some prominent foreign scholars. Other Pakistanis attending the conference were Lt Gen (Retd) Talat Masood and Maj Gen (Retd) Jamshed Ayaz. Often after dinner we would have interactional sessions with several Indian army officers. Discussions mainly converged on the Kashmir issue and the so-called crossborder terrorism on the part of Pakistan. What became clear was that Musharraf was the most hated among the Indian army personnel. It was only after he reneged from the historical UN Resolution on Kashmir and offered a so-called out-of-box approach; he became relatively acceptable to the Indian Establishment. This clearly highlights the dangers of the military or in fact any other institution, taking unilateral steps on sensitive issues. Each institution must carry out its own job diligently without interfering in the working of others Unfortunately, during the military rule, the bureaucracy provided full support to the dictators and in return, they got a freehand in the governance of the country. Both the armed and civil bureaucracy gravitated as natural allies, which has resulted in a culture of corruption and that ironically makes a mockery of the republic, particularly when its parliamentarians are expected to be the lawmakers rather than lawbreakers, as at least a very sizeable number of them have fake degrees. Especially when the Law Minister of the country, degrades a doctoral degree, by affixing his name Babar Awan with 'Dr, which is considered to be the highest intellectual achievement. Besides this, Mr Baber has embarked upon an unethical practice, quite unbecoming of a Law Minister, of doling out governmental funds to bar councils and some lawyers, in order to create a wedge between the CJ and the members of the bar; a very vicious move indeed. It is aimed at creating a force of defiance against the Supreme Court which is going to give the judgment on the review petition submitted by the government on the infamous NRO. Furthermore, Parliament is in essence one of the most sacrosanct institutions, tasked with the responsibility of framing laws and making necessary amendments in the Constitution. Whilst Parliament is a supreme body, it must also realise that it has certain limits, and should not interfere in the working of other institutions. Indeed, the legislatures have often exhibited irresponsible behaviour, personified by knee-jerk reactions. For example, the 1973 Constitution represented the true ethos of the people, a liberal and modern interpretation of Islamic laws. However throughout its tenure it has been constantly desecrated, particularly during the rule of General Zia, who changed the very spirit of the Constitution. The concept of basic structure limitation on the powers to amend the Constitution - a revolutionary concept - was propounded by Prof Conrad, who was the head of the Law Department of South Asian Institution at Heidelberg, in Germany, and initially implemented in India. The concept states that the basic structure of a constitution cannot be amended. The basic structure is the the relative functioning of Parliament, the executive and the judiciary, and that these must operate within their specified domains. Also in the 18th Amendment, this principle has been violated as formation of the Judicial Commission and the Parliamentary Committee, which consists of the Law Minister and the Attorney General, is tantamount to giving political representatives a role in the appointment of the judges of superior courts. Will it not amount to politicising the onerous body of the judges? The incumbent government had to yield to the vox populi (the voice of the people) during the lawyers movement. Nevertheless, the present attempts to defy the SC may ignite another revolutionary step by the people for the preservation of the dignity of the higher judiciary. The Law Minister must essentially symbolise as the upholder of law and not its killer. The writer is secretary general, FRIENDS. Email: