Supreme Court Is Overreaching Its Mandate

 July 21st, 2009

In his article of July 17, 2009, titled Why So Impatient? PML-N Member of the National Assembly Ayaz Amir has rightly raised questions about the over-activism of our Supreme Court.

He points out:

Whether the price of petrol, diesel and kerosene oil is reasonable
or a burden on the public, this is for the government and the elected
representatives of the people to decide. The elected representatives of
the people may not be doing their job. The government may be shirking
its responsibility to look after the interests of the public.
But these are separate issues. The SC’s business is to interpret the law
and to stand guard over it. Petroleum pricing and taxation policy do not
lie in its domain.

And:

   …let no one say that this is a continuation of the Musharraf
order. This is one cliche we should now transcend. Musharraf and all he
stood for are things of the past. We now have to pick up the pieces and
reinvent a new Pakistan. Things went drastically wrong for Pakistan when
General Zia seized power in the summer of 1977.
Dismantling the legacy of the last 32 years is not an uneasy
undertaking. But if we are at all to ensure that our future is better
than the missteps of the past, this task has to be taken in hand.

   The first thing we need is stability and the preservation of the
present democratic order. If there is to be reform and change and better
governance these must come from within the crucible of this order, not
through another march of 111 Brigade. Rocking the boat is a luxury we
can ill-afford at this juncture.

Amir’s point is clear, the SC is over-reaching its mandate by attempting
to rewrite legislation from the bench. Worse, they may not intend it,
but they are in danger of being used as a partisan cat’s paw by the
PML-N in a transparent ploy to discredit the PPP.

This is not the time for game playing gentlemen. Pakistan has only
recently reestablished the democratic rule of the people and attempts to
destabilize the situation by a run away branch of the government, aiding
and abetting an opposition party could have the net effect of playing
into the hands of those who would gladly put an end to it.

As Ayaz wrote:

   We are at a delicate moment in our history, facing internal strife
and extraordinary external pressures. The fight against extremist
elements, schooled in the ideology of misguided jihad, are straining our
utmost capabilities. The American presence in Afghanistan imposes its
own compulsions. Such a situation demands a higher degree of leadership
on the part of all those in a position of authority and responsibility.
This includes the government, the political class, the armed forces and
the higher judiciary.

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