Omar Waraich: Pakistan suffers a coup by other means
Tuesday 19 June 2012
It was a coup by other means. In the past, Pakistan’s democratic hopes were often thwarted by generals taking power for themselves, or shunting governments aside by subtler means. Now it is the turn of another unelected and unaccountable institution to try the same.
The government will not fall. There is an opportunity now for President Asif Ali Zardari to try and anoint a successor as he struggles to hold on to his already shaky ruling coalition. The verdict merely destabilises the government for now.
But more importantly, the court was sending a message. The decision had little to do with the niceties of the law, and whether Yousaf Raza Gilani was following the court’s orders to write a letter to Swiss authorities, urging them to reopen corruption cases against his boss. It was principally about politics.
In particular, it was a power play that reflected the Supreme Court’s view that it is better suited to represent the people of Pakistan than those they have chosen to elect themselves.
The Supreme Court has rightfully earned much popularity for its defiance of former dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf, grilling intelligence agencies, and confronting corruption. But with the accumulation of greater clout, it has grown increasingly political, at times positioning itself as an alternative government.
The court’s verdict is also being criticised in light of a recent controversy. Over recent days, a powerful property billionaire has alleged that he paid Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s son some £2m in the form of cash and pricey holidays.
It is unclear whether the chief justice’s son was being suborned by the government-connected billionaire, or was extorting him. Either way, the scandal has tainted the judiciary. Questions abound about how much the chief justice knew, and for how long.
The move also has political implications. The decision was taken on the petition of two opposition parties, and seems to tilt the political field against the government’s favour mere months before the next election.
Political wrangling over the next few weeks could paralyse the country, to the neglect of pressing issues. Over recent weeks, simmering anger at constant power outages have boiled over into violent riots in the majority province of Punjab. The economy may require a second IMF bailout. And relations with the US linger at an all time low, with Nato supplies to Afghanistan still suspended.
Whoever becomes Pakistan’s next prime minister may well wish they needn’t have assumed the burden.
Easter egg hunt horror as mother finds dead body under deck of house
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Wreckage could be found within a week as search reaches 'very critical juncture', says minister
Unbeliebable: The White House offer 'no comment' to anti-Justin Bieber petition
Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
Royal Tour 2014: Is the Duchess of Cambridge the only person ever to climb into a fighter jet wearing a dress and high heels?
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
'Sinful': Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy comes under attack
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
Refugee facing deportation from Sweden saved by fellow passengers refusing to let plane leave
- 1 Easter egg hunt horror as mother finds dead body under deck of house
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 Unbeliebable: The White House offer 'no comment' to anti-Justin Bieber petition
- 4 Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
- 5 How We Met: Alison Moyet & Emma Kennedy: 'I knew we'd be friends because she was happy to make a prat of herself'
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...
£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...