The Constitution is Knocking on the Door

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan said the words (or something to that effect) recently when taking suo moto notice of the President of Pakistan announcing the date of general elections for the provincial assemblies of Punjab and KP. Ideally, the Governors of these provinces should have announced the date within 48 hours of the dissolution of these assemblies by the respective provincial Chief Ministers. Since they abdicated this responsibility, the head of state, the President, stepped up.

Pakistan's Supreme Court has more often than not been used by the powerful establishment to stamp their unlawful activities and decisions. In April 2022 higher courts sprung into action in the middle of the night to prevent then Prime Minister and Speaker of National Assembly from dissolving the assembly to pave the way for general elections. The judges violated, in my opinion, shared by many, the constitutional provision that keeps the activities of the legislature safe from judicial intervention. The judges intervened and rolled back the decisions of the people in their respective esteemed constitutional roles.

Today the same courts have sprung into action. This time the question again relates to holding general elections. The backbone of any democracy is the right of its population to vote and make their decision known. That it takes a bench of nine judges to even have to intervene in the blatant and malafide inaction of Governors and the Election Commission of Pakistan testifies to the strong grip on power that the establishment holds. There is no higher power in Pakistan than the Chief of Army Staff (COAS). In the consitutional organization chart he serves at the pleasure of the Prime Minister. But the sad history of Pakistan makes the role a de facto King. His will be done and no one else's.

Pakistan's current COAS is supposedly a Hafiz, one who has memorized the entire Quran. A Hafiz is held in high regard by Muslims all over the world with many hadiths promising higer ranks in paradise (jannat) to them. If a person who has memorized the Quran cannot extricate himself from the lust for power and complete control what chance do the rest of us have in similar situations? The Quran, Muhammad's sunnat, and his Sahaba teach us to be humble in offices of extreme power and responsibility. But no COAS in history has ever followed those lessons.

When the current COAS, evident from the fascist methods employed to silence all dissent, does not want elections and wants to continue with an unpopular, corrupt, and puppet civilian regime, no one dares to follow the constitution or their constitutional duties. Except maybe a majority of the Supreme Court.

Will the Supreme Court use its powers to hold general elections no more than 90 days from the day an assembly is dissolved as the constitution stipulates? Or will they please the King in uniform, the COAS, and abrogate the Constitution themselves? Only time will tell.

But make no mistake. The Constitution is at the door. It will either be met with welcoming arms or be turned away into the cold. If the latter happens, it will be a crisis like no other, bar the one that broke up Pakistan in 1971.