Judiciary vs Executives

Judiciary vs Executives

The first thing that should strike the mind in the ongoing confrontation between the judiciary and the executive is that there is no obvious answer regarding who is right and who is wrong.


Both sides are seemingly correct in their own way. As far as the judiciary goes, they are protecting the constitution. Who can fault someone for that?


What of the executive? President Zardari and his gang of coalition allies. From the outset, they have consistently reiterated that the parliament is the country’s supreme political institution over and above the judiciary and that members of parliament are the true representatives of public will. By consistently equating the executive with the parliament, Zardari and his supporters have tried to portray the judicial attack on the executive as an attack on democracy. By attacking democracy, they say, the judiciary is implicitly pushing for military rule. This is particularly dangerous in a country that has experienced long bouts of military rule. It is particularly dangerous in a country, which is presently experiencing one of its longest periods of democratic rule. It is particularly dangerous in a country, which is going through an economic and fiscal crisis that may worsen if the political system becomes any more unstable.Except, one cannot equate the executive with democracy as the PPP is doing.


When discussing this confrontation, it is not enough to refer to the side confronting the judges as simply the “politicians”. Or “democracy”. There are many types of politicians within a democratic system and they all come together to make it a working system. There are many components in a democratic system and the executive is but one of these. The judiciary is not taking on democracy specifically; it is taking on the executive as represented by the ruling PPP government.


To say that the judiciary is taking on the entire institution of democracy is, at best, inaccurate and, at worst, defamation. Why the need for this distinction between democracy and executive?


Because, it is possible for a country to experience democratic rule as Pakistan has been doing and simultaneously suffer at the hands of an inept ruling government. Democracy, as a system, is not to blame. But one of its components is blameworthy. What the PPP is doing is blurring the fine distinction between democracy and the executive. Zardari is hiding behind the cover of democracy to disguise his executive’s shortcomings.


But is it possible that pressuring the ruling government can eventually disrupt the entire democratic process even if the judiciary doesn’t want to? Just because the judiciary does not intend to destroy democracy doesn’t mean that it won’t. No one – the judiciary included – is capable of predicting the results of the judiciary’s constant pressuring of the civilian government.


Given Pakistan’s history of military rule, this is a real danger. However, the danger is overstated. Pakistani democracy has been around for too long and the concept of multi-party politics is too firmly entrenched in the Pakistani psyche. Even when Musharraf ruled, he was forced to do so through the PML-Q. As such, even if the civilian government was ousted, it would come roaring back. The net result of such a turn of events would be Pakistan going through military rule only to inevitably come back to democratic rule.


Far from disrupting democracy, the courts are performing two vital functions by attempting to hold the PPP accountable.


They are asserting their own autonomy and creating their own identity among the various political institutions. This is important because a functioning democracy requires a delicate balance of power between all institutions. Dysfunction occurs when one institution does not have its own identity and becomes subordinate to others. One example of this is when the judiciary loses its identity and becomes a puppet of the executive as has so often been the case in Pakistani history.


Further, the courts are setting a unique precedent for future democratic governments: that it is not enough to simply be elected into power. A government must deliver upon its public mandate. If it doesn’t, then that regime will be held accountable. Not through military might, as in the past, but through the rule of law.

When looked at from this angle, the confrontation between institutions becomes clearer. The executive is in the wrong. The judiciary, in the right.

Mohammed Bilal Khan

Works in the finance industry. He enjoys reading, writing and commenting on politics. He blogs at http://mb-khan.blogspot.com

  • Fahad Mahmood

    Another article in favour of a biased judiciary. Parliament is the true forum for executive accountability. In no civilized democratic nation would the judiciary appropriate so much powers for itself and impinge on the working of the executive to the point of paralysis. The CJ wants to be an overbearing supreme leader by setting up a judocracy – we are replacing uniformed dictators with black-coated ones.

    • shedy

      Judiciary is not paralysing a executive. It is executive who is paralysing the whole system by protecting his corrupt boss

      • Fahad Mahmood

        Nobody is protecting anybody with Iftikhar Muhammed Choudry in the chair. One could argue that the CJ himself is violating the constitution by asking the executive to violate article 248. Now I don’t like zardari any more than you, but the law is the law. You can try zardari after he leaves the presidency, nobody is stopping you from that. Remember that this man spent 8 years or more in prison without conviction, do you think that was justice too??

    • zaheer

      With the help of black camera and renegade media

      • Fahad Mahmood

        True say. There are too many vested interests in Pakistan who have ulterior motives to be trusted.


    Bilal MiaN — tasweer meiN taraazoo balanced hai — magar aapnay taultay waqt judiciary kay favor meiN dundee maaree hai.

    This is not fair.

    • M.S.Qureshi

      Justice demand weighing and balancing both sides in deliberations before giving the final judgement. That is the reason for “tarrazoo” being the universal insignia of Justice.

  • Taj Ahmad

    Just Be A Good Person In Your Life and apply following on you…..
    If you are a Judge, do your best and stop injustice in Pakistan.
    If you are a police man, do your best and stop taking bribes.
    If you are a President, do your best and give justice to all.
    If you are a Prime Minister, do your best and create jobs to million jobless.
    If you are a Governor of Chief Minister, do your best, give justice to all.
    If you are a rich man or woman, help poor in the country.
    If you are a politician, please don’t let people die on the streets.
    If you are a religious person, please don’t misguide people against others.
    If you are a parents, please love to your children and guide them as they grow.
    If you are a doctor, nurse, engineer, please help poor and charge no fee.
    If you are a businessman or woman, do right and don’t over charged price.
    If you are a Banker/Company Owner, do right and give justice to all.
    Thank you!!!

  • S Nasrullah

    @mazbut63: The nation that meekly surrender its rights to invaders from within or without, has a psyche of bowing ones head before every tyrant. Surely, from this perspective, the reaction of the CJ holding himself with honor is unusual and therefore “sheer arrogance”.
    Where ignorance is bliss, it is folly to be wise. By accusing someone without a shred of proof amounts to defamation. Try it in any court of a civilized country and you would know the consequences of calumny.
    SCP is the recipient of an earmarked budget, and they do not print fiduciary notes. just as Funds for Foreign policy deployments, Defense and Internal Security are undisclosed and are accessible to few privileged, the accounts of the SCP are allocated on certain mechanics that governs its use, as well.
    If someone is caught speeding or stealing, police book them and produce the accused to the courts for trial and ruling. It is the realm of the judiciary to scrutinize the breach of law and assign responsibility and apportion the blame and the punishment thereafter.
    A man rebuked and renounced for his vulturous lust for money has properties in Europe that does not commensurate with his legal earnings. As President of Pakistan, on his official visit to France, he had hired a helicopter to visit his Mansion in the most expensive suburban Paris area. A President of the country that exists on doles and directions has the ruler living up the style of Roman Emperors. Indeed, Satan is the most cursed. And for good reason.
    The SCP could only require the Executive – the government – to take appropriate actions in the lawful settlement of cases pending abroad against individuals under the Apex courts’ jurisdiction. It is NOT for the SCP to arrogate the functions of the Executive to write to their counterparts in Swiss judiciary to motion or motivate them to complete an unfinished proceedings.
    It is matter of months before AZ vacates the Office of the President and disappear into the safety of his Foreign Fortresses to enjoy his yet another immunity of absconding accused.

  • Fahad Mahmood

    I agree with your historical analysis. Parliamentary ascendancy in England accelerated with the defeat of Charles I by Parliamentary forces and thereafter the glorious revolution and overthrow of King James II etc…However Pakistan is a constitutional state unlike the UK so comparisons between it and the UK are not fully relevant. Nonetheless the argument for Parliamentary supremacy is that it embodies the will of the people, the choice of the people and so even in a constitutional state its authority and privilege must not be affronted by unelected bodies. Your last point is in fact a good summary: Institutional breakdown cedes space for other institutions to encroach on the vacant space. But is that really good or sensible for nation building?? Ultimately the people must be trusted to make the decision- it may take 2 or 3 or 20 democratic cycles but eventually most people will realize -even the uneducated ones- that once a crook, always a crook. We all need patience …