A silent revolution

Raoof Hasan
Friday, May 17, 2024

It all started unravelling in the courtroom on April 30 when a bench of the Supreme Court started debating the letter sent by six judges of the IHC as also the proposals received from the provincial high courts regarding the contents of the original communication.

Purposeful statements were made by judges of the bench who all seemed to agree that there had indeed been intervention in the matters of the courts from the outside and some mechanism needed to be developed to stop this. Genuine urgency seemed to stir their depositions.

The inputs received from the high courts in Lahore, Quetta, Peshawar, and Karachi further confirmed such interventions as a matter of routine. They also urged the chief justice to take steps to remedy the malfunction effectively.

An entire clan of judges has however acknowledged intervention from outside and strongly recommended a combination of corrective measures as operational checks and balances and introducing punitive measures for those from the executive and the agencies who would be guilty of such intervention.

The sentiments of the judges are reflective of a silent revolution that is brewing within the judiciary. Keeping in mind the complicit role that the institution has played in the past alongside other institutions in facilitating military rules leading to uninterrupted intervention in the political affairs, the current thinking appears nothing short of a miracle.

Coming on the heels of the other silent revolution that took place on February 8 when, despite the absence of any political space for the PTI and with its entire senior leadership either in jails or underground, people voted overwhelmingly for the party to give it a thumping majority at the centre and in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Though the mandate was brazenly stolen in the thick of the night, people had clearly cast their support for Imran Khan and his party.

This twin revolution is like a whiff of fresh air in an increasingly stifling environment. We again owe it to Imran Khan who, through relentless effort spread over years, induced in people a high degree of awareness whereby they became sensitive to their role and responsibilities in the choice of a leadership that could serve the interest of making Pakistan genuinely sovereign and independent, free to take decisions that would promote its inherent objectives without dictation from any foreign quarters.

That is how and why they voted to bring back Khan into power in no uncertain terms. The good thing is that there is no way this new-found awareness could be doused. In fact, with time, it is likely to become even more assertive in determining the future of their country and that of their own.

It is the awakening within the judiciary that is really stimulating. The institution has much to hide in terms of a past that legitimized military take-overs by fabricating that horrid ‘doctrine of necessity’. In actual effect it meant that, though the constitution and law have been trampled upon, since the action has already taken shape and since it cannot be reversed, so, therefore, it should be accepted as legitimate. In the process, we had four occasions when the judiciary jumped to welcome military dictators who left behind a trail of despondency as also creating gaping fault lines in the body politic which greatly damaged the foundational ethos of the state.

With growing resistance to outright take-overs, products of an anti-democratic nursery have been placed as rulers of the country through a highly dubious election process with strings attached to the pantomimes so that they can be made to dance to their tune.

This phase was spread over all the years which were not consumed by direct military rule. In addition to generating despair, this exercise also adversely impacted the health of the state institutions whose loyalties remained divided between masters who pulled them in different directions. In the process, the state became increasingly weak, and people suffered its painful consequences.

This awakening has also come at a critical time when the country is teetering on the brink of disaster. A virtual economic captive, Pakistan is perceived as the begging bowl of the world as its leaders go from country to country seeking financial assistance to tide over some more time.

Such assistance is becoming increasingly difficult to secure as, with growing debt, lenders have lost faith in the country’s future in terms of its ability to manage its own affairs. Its dependency on support from outside has continued to increase with time in direct proportion to the depleting confidence which international lending organizations have in its ability to charter a pragmatic course that would be free from nurturing a myopic beneficiary class which controls the entire developmental repertoire of the country.

With increased awareness of the electorate and a judiciary that appears inclined to provide justice to people, we may finally be on the right track to a future. But it is too early to make any projections. The change, though visible, is in a fledgling state which may still face bumps consciously placed in its path by those whose grip on the levers of power will diminish as a consequence which they may not be happy with. With increasing frustration, they may still think of a venture that could plunge the country into a bottomless pit, and sliding out of there may be an onerous task.

One hopes that such a situation will not arise again and these small steps the people are taking paves the path to shaping a democratic future for the country that it has long been starved for. It is only then that hope will regenerate, and people power will guide the country along a path to salvation. But, first, the clouds of oppression must disappear.

The writer is the information secretary of the PTI, and a

fellow at King’s College London. He tweets/posts @RaoofHasan