25 July, 2021

Lights Out On Free Alley

Gilani goes, but the judiciary overreaches

Lights Out On Free Alley

It was perhaps one of the worst examples of judicial cravenness in a modern nation-state, when their lordships deigned to sentence a charismatic and democratically elected prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, to death in 1979 at the behest of the military dictator, Gen Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. After 33 years, in an unforced and self-generated fit of judicial activism, their successors at the Supreme Court have gone for the jugular and dismissed Yousuf Raza Gilani, another prime minister from the Pakistan People’s Party.

The reactions were sharp and unequivocal. “In disqualifying a sitting, democratically elected prime minister, the Supreme Court has taken an extraordinary and unfortunate step,” said a disapproving editorial in Dawn. The court, it added, could have steered clear of bringing the judiciary, parliament and executive on a renewed collision course.

The ‘judicial coup’ has disappointed many—it was, after all, another chance gone abegging for an elected Pakistani PM to complete a...

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