Walking Towards Democracy

flag.jpgThe new government is yet to be formed in Pakistan. However, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML [N]) have already been subjected to gruelling scrutiny by the international society and the media, since their jubilant victory in the February 18 polls. After eight years of absolute power administered by President Gen. (retd.) Pervez Musharraf (PML(Q)), the establishment of democracy in the terror-inflicted state rests in the hands of these two political parties. Since the crashing defeat of the PML(Q), everybody is inclined to know whether the judiciary would be restored by the new parliamentarians. During his questionable imposition of ‘Emergency’ on November 3, 2007, President Musharraf had fired several judges. On February 19, lawyers from across the country demanded that the judiciary be restored. Several political parties issued for peaceful protests to be held.The issue of the judiciary is one of paramount importance, if democracy is ever to be achieved in Pakistan. It all started when President Musharraf ‘suspended’ the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Iftikhar Chaudhry, on March 9, 2007. The president went onto sack sixty other judges who refused to stand by his sudden proclamation of Emergency.However, it is not quite so simple in restoring the disbanded judiciary as one might think. With an executive order and a simple majority in the National Assembly, both being considered by both the political parties, Musharraf’s counsels demand a constitutional amendment with a two-third majority in both Houses of Parliament.With PML(Q) senators proving to be a potential obstacle to the restoration of the judiciary, the PPP and the PML(N) in association with their allies, can still pull together a two-third majority in the two Houses of the Parliament. However, the next obstacle arises when the issue is brought before the sitting judges in the Supreme Court, who went out on a limb to defy lawyers in order to take the November 3 oath of Provisional Constitutional Order. A third obstacle would arise in allocating the sitting judges who replaced those lawyers who had been sacked by President Musharraf. Moreover, there is a shadow with respect to the cases that have come before the court from November 3, 2007 till now.Not just the judiciary, there looms a dark cloud over the future of President Musharraf with respect to the formation of the new government. With a strong alliance brewing between Asif Ali Zardari (PPP) and Nawaz Sharif (PML(N)), President Musharraf is on a quest to woo the new leaders. A far cry from an administrator of democracy, Musharraf might now have to prove his mettle with regard to his belief in accredited rights of the citizens. It has been a fearsome journey for all of Pakistan, yet they have strongly battled both autocracy and terrorism with great bravery. One can only hope that a sustainable democratic structure be set up in the state, with resilient branches of the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. With a decision yet to be taken with respect to the formation and the composition of the new government, Pervez Musharraf might still be clutching onto a straw of hope. However, after the many years of dictatorial rule, it seems unreasonable to invest in him any kind of power

Shayoni Sarkar

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