By Saad Hafiz
…. It is probably an understatement to suggest that past SC judgments have not helped the cause of democracy and the rule of law in the country. The following examples come to mind. In 1954, the otherwise brilliant Chief Justice Munir invoked the ‘doctrine of necessity’, validating the dissolution of Pakistan’s first constituent assembly, which many feel set the precedent for future authoritarian intervention the country. To his credit, Justice Munir also wrote a thought-provoking book, From Jinnah to Zia, arguing that Mr. Jinnah stood for a tolerant and secular state where Muslims and non-Muslims had equal rights.
Later, Chief Justice CJ Anwarul Haq is ‘ill-famed’ for giving gave legitimacy to General Zia’s martial law and for upholding the decision of the Lahore High Court, which sentenced Mr ZA Bhutto to death for conspiring in the murder of a political opponent. Ironically, unlike incumbent Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, Justice Anwarul Haq became the first Justice and perhaps only chief justice to refuse taking the oath under the military imposed PCO and resigned on conscientious grounds in 1981.
Beyond the cases of the ‘disappeared’, the security establishment has always escaped accountability for causing great harm to country by fighting and losing needless wars, pursuing flawed national security policies and more recently for their incompetence in the bin Laden and Mehran episodes. It is not unreasonable to hope that the SC will show an even handed approach in dealing with an elected government and other powerful institutions like the armed forces who are in effect a law unto themselves.
Read more » Pak Tea House