Is This About Justice or Power?

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  • Reading time:6 mins read
  • Post author:Laiba Khan
  • Post category:Diagnosis

In a well-deserved triumph of democracy, Pakistan successfully held its General Elections in February 2024. This ended a grueling two-year period characterized with political and economic turmoil. The nation, with a new Government in place, directed its focus towards tackling most pressing issues like revival of crippled economy and addressing the ever-present national security threats, especially those related to counter-terrorism. However, just as the country began to inch toward a spell of stability, a new controversy has emerged, with the aim to destabilize this journey towards a better future.This time round, fault lines have been meticulously exploited. Those, who had been conspicuously silent during the darkest hours of crisis have suddenly found their voices and are eager to sow discord rather than offer constructive solutions. These self-proclaimed champions of chaos, who had never spoken up or lifted a finger to contribute to Pakistan’s betterment, now are seeking to derail the hard-earned momentum towards stability. One such case is the flurry of judicial activism.

Six judges from the Islamabad High Court (IHC) have penned a letter to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), led by Chief Justice of Supreme Court. The letter expresses deep concerns about the alleged “interference” of intelligence agencies in the judicial system. The six IHC judges have blamed that outside forces are meddling in judicial matters. Judges’ accusations center on undue influence by Executive Branch officials and intelligence agencies.

While the judges frame their actions as safeguarding judicial independence, a closer look reveals a troubling pattern of judicial activism in Pakistan’s history. Two out of the six judges have faced accusations of exceeding their authority in recent past. Another judge’s name has surfaced in connection with property disputes lacking transparency. This baggage from the past tarnishes judge’s current claims of defending judicial independence. A critical evaluation of this move indicates that the six judges are probably using the allegations of interference to deflect from their own vulnerabilities or potentially influence the upcoming judicial appointments. In either of the situation, such an exploitative manoeuver is highly unwarranted.

The current controversy within the judiciary itself weakens Pakistan at a critical juncture of time. The country is focusing on economic development and counter-terrorism efforts, both of which require stability and public confidence in institutions. This internal conflict casts doubt on the judiciary’s ability to function effectively and impartially, potentially hindering progress on these crucial national goals. It’s crucial to acknowledge the possibility that internal conflicts, even those presented with noble intentions, can be used to further external agendas and ultimately weaken Pakistan’s position on the global stage.

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The current controversy surrounding the judiciary presents a critical challenge for Pakistan’s future. As highlighted throughout this analysis, a weakened and divided judiciary can severely impede national development, erode public trust, and hinder efforts to address pressing issues like national security and economic growth.

Unfortunately, these internal squabbles between state institutions, exemplified by the recent controversy, carry a heavy weight beyond the courtroom doors. Pakistan exists in a complex geo-political landscape, where regional rivals and other external actors watch closely for any sign of vulnerability. Such internal divisions, including the current judicial conflict, present a tempting target. Our adversaries will use it as an opportunity to exploit existing fault lines, manipulate the situation to their advantage, and sow further discord.

By prioritizing personal agendas and fueling instability, such self-serving actions only weaken the national fabric and create openings for those, who wish to see Pakistan falter. In a world, where enemies lurk all around, waiting for the perfect moment to destabilize the nation, such internal conflicts become not just domestic issues, but potential national security threats with far-reaching consequences.

Past instances of judicial overreach have arguably yielded mixed results, often creating political gridlock or even exacerbating existing tensions. In the current scenario, such allegations of external influence could be a genuine concern or a calculated attempt to deflect attention. Regardless of the motive, reigniting a debate on pretext of judicial activism is a risky proposition. This renewed focus on judicial activism, with its uncertain outcomes, threatens to derail the fragile progress Pakistan has made towards stability.

It’s a gamble the nation can ill-afford at a time, when unity and focus are paramount Pakistan needs a judiciary which remains focused on upholding the law and interpreting it fairly, not the one which is embroiled in political battles. It is time that institutions work in harmony, living within their prescribed jurisdiction and focus their energies on the primary tasks entrusted with them.

Pakistan’s complex security landscape demands a unified approach. National security should not be wielded as a weapon against legitimate concerns within state institutions, as seems to be the case with the six IHC judges. In a country facing multifaceted challenges, all stakeholders – the judiciary included – have a critical role to play in upholding and preserving national security. Prioritizing personal agendas ultimately weakens Pakistan’s ability to tackle these complex issues effectively. National security thrives on a foundation of trust and strong institutions, not their erosion.

The opinions shared in this article reflect the author’s personal views and do not necessarily align with the institution’s official stance.

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Laiba Khan is a graduate of Masters Political Science from Punjab University, She is associated with international think tanks and development sector as a writer and consultant.

Laiba Khan

Laiba Khan is a graduate of Masters Political Science from Punjab University, She is associated with international think tanks and development sector as a writer and consultant.