Editorial - How long? - Saturday, March 12, 2011

Source : http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=35786&Cat=8

The sense that we are millimeters away from a crisis has been with us for months. The consistent contempt shown by the government for the Supreme Court’s decisions has contributed to this. We see now a refusal to accept the verdict on the appointment of Justice (r) Deedar Hussain Shah as NAB chairman, a decision that had raised many eyebrows from the moment it was announced last year given his close links with the PPP and the unsuitability of such a candidate to fill a post that demands neutrality and integrity. In response to a petition moved by opposition leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the three-member bench had declared the appointment void. This should hardly have come as a surprise to the PPP given the provision in the 18th Amendment that the opposition leader be consulted before appointing the NAB chief. Yet in both Sindh and the centre, the response has been almost violent. The strike called by the PPP in the province is reported to have led to deaths and to buses being torched and shops being shut down as tension grips Karachi and, according to reports, also other cities. Meanwhile in the centre, after several hectic meetings, the government has decided to reappoint Deedar Shah, claiming it has removed the Supreme Court’s objections. This seems implausible at best.

It is worth noting that key PPP allies have distanced themselves from the move. Most interpreters have no doubts that the reason why the PPP wishes to ensure a loyal henchmen heads NAB is to protect leaders against whom many cases of corruption stand. It is also apparent that no system can function smoothly when there is so much unwillingness to abide by the Constitution and disregard court orders. The fear that we may find ourselves facing complete mayhem is growing by the day, indeed by the hour. As had been predicted many weeks ago the government’s actions have landed us in very serious trouble indeed. The attempt to use people on the streets against the courts will simply not work. It has already resulted in disrupting normal life in Karachi – and creating a graver crisis than the one we are already locked in. The fragile relations between the judiciary and the executive have once more broken down and once more they appear difficult salvage. Each episode from the past has added to the tensions. The unwillingness of the government to abide by court orders has put the whole system under tremendous pressure. Many wonder how long it can last under the present situation and what can be done to regain some sense of order.

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