News Analysis |
It is worth celebrating that Pakistan has seen a consecutive second elected government completing its tenure. Democracy has remained a contested idea in the country but for almost last ten years, Pakistan is moving towards a right direction. There are, however, some challenges still at the heart of Pakistan’s political system which need time and careful deliberation to be dealt and resolved.
According to political commentators, civil-military relations, the role of the judiciary, the powers of the executive and the role and freedom of media are some fundamental themes discussed off and on in Pakistan’s political discourse. Pakistan is all set to hold the general elections on July 25. However, there are various conspiracy theories and controversies surrounding the elections in the country. There are some critics of so-called all-powerful military establishment in Pakistan who believe elections are going to be neither fair nor free.
Experts in Pakistan believe that allegations or some ‘undesirable comments’ against the security agencies without any evidence not only compromise the repute of the institutions but also undermines the credibility of the entire political system.
But these critics fail to provide any solid evidence to back their claims. On the other hand, a vast majority of Pakistanis is seemingly happy to get another opportunity to choose their representatives. The matter became more complex and disturbing when a senior judge of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui lambasted at spy agencies of the country and held them responsible for many upsetting political and security challenges in Pakistan.
Hearing the case of missing persons, the high court judge appealed to Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa for “barring his persons from intervention in the matters of other institutions,” adding that the army chief should take notice of the alarming situation. He claimed, “Judges’ lives are in danger as their telephones are being tapped by the officials of the security agencies”.
Addressing a representative of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), who appeared in the court, Justice Siddiqui said: “Your personnel try to form a court bench of their own wish and the army chief should be aware of the misdeeds committed by them”. Justice Siddiqi warned the spy agencies not to cross their constitutional limits and perform their duties according to the constitution of the country. Justice Siddiqi’s hard-hitting criticism of ‘secret ‘agencies came at a critical juncture.
Just a day before, the CEO of Dawn Hameed Haroon was jolted by BBC’s Stephen Sackur when he leveled some allegations against the security agencies of Pakistan, but was unable to provide any evidence. Similarly, Justice Siddiqi blamed the security agencies for meddling into politics and judicial affairs, but did not give any evidence to back his observations/claims.
According to political commentators, civil-military relations, the role of the judiciary, the powers of the executive and the role and freedom of media are some fundamental themes discussed off and on in Pakistan’s political discourse.
Justice Siddiqi: Some hard-hitting Comments
Justice Siddiqi has remained in news for various reasons. Last year, Justice Siddiqi got upset over some blasphemous content on Facebook. He even directed the authorities to shut-down the social media site, if it does not work according to the laws of Pakistan. He further suggested to make the blasphemy law ‘tougher’. This judgment generated a huge debate on social media.
Almost a year ago, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui expressed displeasure over army’s role in the deal brokered between the protesters staging a sit-in at the Faizabad interchange and federal government. ‘In what capacity, the Army Chief assumed the role of guarantor in the agreement,’ inquired Justice Siddiqui.
Recently, Justice Siddiqi issued a judgement and said that all citizens be easily identifiable by their faith and that applicants for public offices declare their beliefs before being considered eligible.
Just a day before, the CEO of Dawn Hameed Haroon was jolted by BBC’s Stephen Sackur when he leveled some allegations against the security agencies of Pakistan, but was unable to provide any evidence.
Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, who penned the order, referred to Article 5 of the Constitution, saying it demands that citizens remain “faithful” to the state and “abide by the rules of law and Constitution.” However, he then interpreted Article 5 as the Constitution making it “mandatory” for every citizen, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, to declare their “true faith”, failing which they could be guilty of “betraying the State” and “exploiting the Constitution”.
It may be important to mention here that Justice Siddiqui is facing a reference on misconduct on the complaint by a retired employee of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) for alleged refurbishment of official residence beyond entitlement.
On Feb 22, SJC had issued a show cause notice to Justice Siddiqui on another reference against him for making unnecessary and unwarranted comments about some “important constitutional institution saying such comments prima facie had the tendency of undermining the respect otherwise such constitutional institution enjoys”.
Experts in Pakistan believe that allegations or some ‘undesirable comments’ against the security agencies without any evidence not only compromise the repute of the institutions but also undermines the credibility of the entire political system. In a dismaying state of affairs when some political parties and a few segments of media are making all efforts to make the upcoming general elections controversial, the comments made by an honorable judge without providing any solid evidence will prove counterproductive for Pakistan’s democratic evolution.