What the Supreme Court Needs to Do - BY:​ Saeed A. Malik

When General of the Army, Syed Parvez Musharraf issued the infamous NRO on 05 Oct 2007, he did so to stretch to eternity [within human limits] the period of his rule.

It is a supreme irony that this eternity, to gain which Musharraf had rehabilitated every major scoundrel of Pakistan, stood terminated on 18 Aug 2008. It could not crawl beyond this date because its sire lost heart, surrendered, and fled the shores of his country.

The NRO did many things, but the most significant harm it did to Pakistan was that it legitimized and made respectable the plundering of Pakistan by its leadership, in partnership with those who facilitated this plunder. It made everything decent and right in the land hesitant, diffident, and cowardly; and it made thieves and blackguards shamelessness, bold, brazen.

This shamelessness saw its most squalid demonstration in Nawaz Sharif's "rally" from Islamabad to Lahore, during which a wretch convicted by the unanimous decision of the supreme court found the brazenness to keep making signs of victory, and opened to mendacity, horizons which it had not known before.

This is how over time, one of the gifts of the NRO has matured and blossomed where theft stands bold and upright in the face of integrity and rectitude shown by the Supreme Court.

Throughout the hearings the restraint shown by the Supreme Court was palpable. And nowhere was this more clearly apparent than in the fact that it could have jailed some of our shameless ' democratic' stalwarts on charges of perjury and forgery, but chose not to do so.

But by not doing so, could the Court have given space to the violaters of the law--space in which they now find immunity, and which they seem determined to exploit? Could Nawaz Sharif and half the cabinet of Pakistan have dared to hold the Supreme Court openly, and increasingly to ridicule and contempt, as their sorry caravan made its lawless progress to Lahore, had the court sent each perjurer and every forger to jail when it gave its judgement in the Panama case?

Because of the restraint shown by the Court and the space this gave to Nawaz Sharif and his molly ​-​ coddlers, a situation was brought about which was as criminal as it was anomalous. I can think of no other instance in history where a central government, abetted by one in a province, facilitated and funded a campaign of open denigration and subversion against the highest court of the land, and by innuendo, against its armed forces. And this, for doing no more than fulfilling their duty under the dictates of the law and abiding by the constitution, wherein they disqualified a Prime Minister who was proved to be both unworthy of trust and a liar, and against whose grand larceny tomes of prima facie evidence exists in dozens of cases!

And this man has recourse to abuse for, and boldness against a court, which enjoys the highest credibility in the land? But alas this could not have been possible had Nawaz Sharif and his "gaali galoch" brigade not first tested the waters, and found the Supreme Court hobbled by diffidence!

If the Court does not act, it will appear weak. Weakness is an invitation to others to test the limits of the law and to break it. Besides, more and more people will be inclined to believe that the lies of Nawaz Sharif have a kernel of truth buried in them. This will add to the divisions in the polity which is clearly Nawaz Sharif's goal, and this will inevitably add to the tinder which is daily being piled higher. A spark may come from any direction and begin a conflagration. This must not be allowed to happen. The Supreme Court and the Army have the highest approval ratings in the country, and they are backed by a large majority of the population. They must not allow a situation to emerge whereby Pakistan is further destabilized.

The Court should do away with restraint and begin acting. It should not be waiting to react. It should:

-As a first step, it must immediately begin trials for contempt of ALL those against whom miles of film evidence exists. Immediately as these convictions begin, the fires being attempted to be lit will go out, and only smoke will remain. And smoke Pakistan can handle.

-The five member bench of the Court and the JIT must be resuscitated to determine the costs borne by the central and the Punjab governments towards funding the campaign of denigration of Supreme Court by Nawaz Sharif and cohorts. The government facilities used in this campaign must also be determined. And everyone responsible should be held to account and be tried on these counts.

-Chairman NAB should IMMEDIATELY be held to account for not going for appeal in the Supreme Court in the Hudaiybia case per assurances given, and for to taking the Hudaibya case out of the purview of the monitoring judge of the Supreme Court, and for having given directions to his subordinates, to fudge the references. This Chairman should be jailed on multiple counts to begin with, and the monitoring judge should put in place a mechanism to ensure that the references to be filed are water tight. If this is not done, the case which the Court worked so diligently to investigate will stand wrecked, and the Court will lose all the respect and credibility it has gained.

-The Court should scour the ranks of lawyers and appoint a special prosecutor of unimpeachable integrity and ability to prosecute the Panama case in NAB courts. If all else has been made water tight, a prosecutor who is either weak, or does not have the integrity it takes, can blow these cases away.

-The Court must be aware of the efforts being made by Nawaz Sharif to bring Asif Zardari on board to pass a Constitutional Amendment, preferably retrospectively, to re-enfranchise Nawaz Sharif, and to give immunity to members of his family and party who stand being disqualified for office as a result of Panama trials. This must not be allowed to happen. In this the role of the judiciary must be activist. Restraint on this score will mean that Pakistan will erupt in flames.

-The Court must take suo moto notice of a situation where a Prime Minister has, de facto, been thrown out for not being worthy of trust and for being a liar, and yet, de facto, has all members of the Central Government reporting to him and taking orders from him.

The Constitution gives the Supreme Court vast powers including, for all practical purposes, the power to legislate to meet an emergency. For once these powers need being used for the good of the people and the country. If the Court uses its powers thus, it shall find eternity in the gratitude of the people of Pakistan-the eternity to which Musharraf so gloriously aspired but so ignominiously failed to achieve.

Saeed A. Malik.

Posted on Aug 16, 17 | 5:12 am