Editorial : Ugly and unnecessary - Saturday, March 12, 2011

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/12/ugly-and-unnecessary.html

THE almost daily jolts to the executive coming from the direction of the Supreme Court have many independent observers and jurists concerned. But far more astonishing has been the response of the PPP. Unhappy with several recent decisions of the Supreme Court — probing into the legality of contract appointments, ordering the dismissal of DG FIA, declaring invalid the appointment of the NAB chief, etc — the PPP called for a province-wide strike in Sindh yesterday, triggering an outbreak of violence on the streets of Karachi and other cities and towns in the province. The ugly political tactics are totally unwarranted and highly disturbing.
On each issue taken up by the Supreme Court, the PPP-led executive at the centre has had and continues to have legal options that have yet to be taken up. Curious as some of the moves of the superior judiciary may be, the right and sensible response of the government would have been to assemble a robust legal response. If the appointment of the DG FIA and other contract employees retained by the federal government has legislative cover, the executive should patiently and resolutely explain its case. If the government has a different view on what degree of consultation is necessary with the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly before appointing the NAB chairman, then, again, the government should patiently and resolutely explain its case. Whatever is happening on the other side, observers and jurists remain convinced one of the reasons for the executive and the superior judiciary being at odds so often is that the government has paid scant attention to the need for a coherent and comprehensive legal strategy. Legal challenges should have legal responses.
The usual PPP response is that politics is being disguised as the law at times, and always to the PPP`s detriment. Even so, that still leaves the PPP with a hard question to answer: at what point is defiance more costly than it is beneficial? The Sindh card has been trotted out, violence has occurred in Sindh, the provincial assembly has huffed and puffed — and for what, to save a couple of second-tier officials? Politics is about calibrating responses. Yesterday`s events were no advertisement for democracy. The already muddy waters of politics have been churned further — and very unnecessarily so. Restraint on all sides is needed. The superior judiciary needs to give the executive room to breathe. The PPP needs to understand that while political escalation may yield short-term — very short-term — dividends, the net losers in a longer time frame will almost inevitably be the political class with genuine electoral support.

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