WITH change of chief justice, there is hope for change in the air. It should start with outgoing CJ hope for timely elections in his farewell address. The elections should be held at their time that is the 90-day limit will only be valid if 63A is undone with all the subsequent illegal acts including dissolution of assemblies to reset the crimes against oaths and the Constitutions. Until then it is an illegal wish that cannot be separated from unlawful actions of PTI government to get early elections for power grab which Apex Court is likely to set the record straight some day.
There are high expectations for in-house cleaning and improvement in Supreme Court under the new Chief Justice. To set an example, all the justices in Supreme Court who were promoted out of turn merit to be thrown out instead of returning them to their previous courts. Seniority has already been established as basis of promotion of SC chief justice in many cases including Al-Jehad Trust case. The incoming Chief Justice should extend it across the board in the superior judiciary. The suo motu powers of all Supreme Court justices should be restored. The usurping of suo moto powers of justices is an attack on independence of judiciary, which undermines democratic system of check and balance. The administrative role of chief justice does not allow to take away suo motu powers of brother justices.
It tantamount to changing the Constitution which a CJ cannot do. The president should be held to account based on SC judgment ruling on reference against Justice Isa as malafide.The progress in judiciary will also help military, bureaucracy and police. Like military, there should be no extension in ISI also. They are custodians of state and public interest not political parties and government of the day. The “same page” policy of governments with state institutions is a ploy to avoid democratic accountability. It should be stop and replaced by upholding the Constitution, rule of law and its enforcement to let democracy serve the public instead of political leadership. Political parties have skewed parliamentary system in their favor, which undermines democratic system of check and balance. The charter of democracy has destroyed democratic accountability of political governments. The latest developments on election date, role of president and election commission is turning office of PM into a dictator. To have strong parliamentary democracy, Pakistan needs to protect vote of no confidence against the government of the day, impeachment of president and independence of media. Similarly, political governments have consolidated unprecedented powers, which need to be countered democratically. The protests of unions and workers in UK have shown that Pakistan should protect right to protest/industrial action as a democratic check and balance on political government, businesses and lobbies to control prices, good pay packages for meeting cost of living. It is the only way to cut public demands for marital law due to lack of good governance.The myopic approach of Pakistani media is failing democracy, state and public.
It is reporting cost of living crisis in Pakistan including rise in cost of utility bills, rents, healthcare, property, transport and corruption but it is failing to report the same in West, ME and our neighborhood. Media has to look beyond Pakistan to educate and inform public to make right decisions on economy, foreign relations and jobs and industrialization. The G-20 has adopted failed western economic model, which Pakistan can avoid. West’s cost of living crisis is failure of 80s economic policies (Reaganomics and Thatcherism) including globalization, privatization, demanufacturing, food security, and fiat currency. The size of economies has increased in developed world but states are facing debt, unemployment, stagnant wages, fall in tax revenue, crumbling infrastructure, and accumulation of 70-80% of national wealth with top ten percent.Instead, Pakistan can learn from West to stand on its own. After Louisiana Purchase, Homestead Law allowed free land to American citizens for agriculture, which protected its food security and soon became world food basket. The expansion of professional education institutions, industrialization, and road and rail networks turned the nation into a super power. Pakistan needs to implement land reforms and give eight acres of land to one family as per approved policy.
It will further improve employment, food and water security, cut crime and police budget, reduce pressure on urban infrastructure and healthcare. It will expand local industry, jobs, roads, bridges and railway, dams, water storage and irrigation system and water security. SME, cottage industry and IT can help improve value addition, and domestic consumption. It will boost tax revenue, cut debt and spending on social support programs (BISP).These plans can be funded with help of banking reforms (US Glass-Steagall Act 1933). Public savings should be encouraged in national saving centers for financing mega projects instead of taking foreign debt. France has used pension funds to finance six new nuclear power plants. Pakistan can use alternate energy with nuclear energy to cut reliance on foreign oil and adopt independent foreign policy. Pakistan has enough resources to stand on its own but it needs required change.
—The writer is senior political analyst based in Islamabad.
Email: [email protected]