The common argument is that if the elections are not held as per the Constitution, there will be a new tradition in which the current and future governments will delay the elections on the excuse of poor law and order, a lack of funds, and unavailability of staff to conduct the general elections. There was a sigh of relief among them when the Apex Court gave the election schedule—although illegally, as per some senior jurists — to the Election Commission and ordered all relevant institutions to assist the ECP in conducting elections for the provincial assemblies.
Unfortunately, the story is not that simple!
Those who are celebrating the implementation of Article 224(2) are ignoring some other new traditions which can bring about perpetual political and economic destabilization in the future. The developments after the vote of no confidence against the PTI government must be concerning for those who claim to be proponents of democracy.
Unfortunately, their argument, that the elections must be conducted as per 224(2) ignores the facts about the collusion among the PTI, Supreme Court and High Courts to favor the PTI’s electoral chances. It ignores the fact that the assemblies were dissolved only because of their party leader’s will, who wanted to pressure the federal government into hold general elections. The argument overlooks the behavior of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, who formed benches with two of his like-minded judges and has demonstrated a clear bias towards the PTI, imposed a one-sided trial, intervened in the affairs of the ECP, and then imposed the verdict.
It’s true that Article 224(2) clearly demands elections within 90 days after the dissolution of assemblies. However, the main question is if the formation of the PTI government in the Punjab Assembly and then its dissolution was per the constitution. The answer is no.
A reference should be filed in the Supreme Judicial Council against the 3-member bench judges who are misusing their powers and giving cover to constitutional violations by the PTI.
By insisting on elections, we are avoiding some likely disastrous scenarios. However, we are opening the doors for some incessant catastrophes by ignoring all the developments which brought the country to this stage. If we keep insisting on 224(2) without asking the questions that need to be asked, there will be a tradition in which the Chief Justice would become a dictator and run the country as per his will by suo motu actions and favored benches. There will be a tradition where if the Chief Minister could not perform, their party leader would force the CM to dissolve the assembly, assigning no reason, and then force the federal government into hold new elections. Then after holding elections without the caretaker government, a new tradition would be formed of having elections without a caretaker setup, which violates 224(1A).
A question we should all be asking ourselves is, did the Chief Justice and his favorite bench deceptively interpret Article 63A to provide an advantage to PTI? Shouldn’t the CM Punjab Chaudhry Parvez Elahi be scrutinized for dissolving the Punjab Assembly just because his party leader wanted to engineer political turmoil in the country so that the federal government could be forced into holding general elections?
Should it be allowed for any political party and Judges to manipulate the Constitution, but when it suits them, demand the implementation of constitutional articles? Should it be allowed, that the Chief Justices of the Supreme Court and High Courts unfairly protect a political party from every crime they commit, and then pass verdicts to force the government with their like-minded judges to accept what the letter of the Constitution demands?
The more important question is: what should be done? To start off, a reference should be filed in the Supreme Judicial Council against the 3-member bench judges who are misusing their powers and giving cover to constitutional violations by the PTI. After the note from Justice Athar Minallah, the perception that the Chief Justice abused his powers is strengthened further.
Khan could not hold together a political party on his own, so the military engineered a party for him and managed the media narrative to add to his popularity. He could not win the general elections on his own, but once again, the military managed the courts to wipe out his opposition, and drove him into power by manipulating the polls. He failed miserably in governance.
A full-Court bench of the Supreme Court should be formed. Parvez Elahi should be called to testify, where, on oath, he should explain why he dissolved the Punjab Assembly. If he cannot satisfy the full court, the Punjab assembly should be restored, and trials against the Chief Justice and his like-minded judges in the Supreme Judicial Council should proceed.
If Elahi satisfies the full court, the 3-member bench’s verdict about the 63A should be revisited, and the 3-member bench should also be scrutinized for misinterpreting the article to give PTI a favor. All the political parties and others who were assisting the “movement” should be called and made answerable before the full court.
Rowan Gavin Menzies, in his controversial book “1421” writes, “To misuse a famous quotation: if they could see further than others, it was because they were standing on the shoulders of giants.” Contrary to what the media caleche about Imran Khan’s popularity is, history tells us that Khan behaved like a political parasite who rode on his popularity by standing on the shoulders of giants. Khan could not hold together a political party on his own, so the military engineered a party for him and managed the media narrative to add to his popularity. He could not win the general elections on his own, but once again, the military managed the courts to wipe out his opposition, and drove him into power by manipulating the polls. He failed miserably in governance. Instead of bringing billions and throwing those in the face of the IMF as he had so fervently claimed, he took the largest loans in history. When he was removed from power with the vote of no-confidence, he tried to use public pressure on the government to achieve re-election, but he failed once again because his calls fell on deaf ears and he cannot draw large crowds. This time, the judges came to his rescue to deliver to him what he wanted to achieve.
All those who are insisting on 224(2) must understand that the law cannot be implemented, no matter how it is written, if the path to getting to the demand is full of unlawful actions. The law is a full-package deal, not a pick and choose buffet.