A Broken Judiciary

A Broken Judiciary
When checks and balances are forfeited from a country’s executive procedure, only chaos can ensue. The very concept of a checks and balances system is integral to the progression of a country’s governance: without such, it is destined for failure. When Pakistan acceded from the British Raj in 1947, Jinnah had been cautious of retaining the judicial strength the Brits had exacted upon the subcontinent. Being a barrister himself, there is no doubt that he was fully aware of the tribulations which could be faced on a statutory level as a result of such.

We just celebrated our 75th anniversary as an independent nation, where we are anything but. State meddling has driven the country into the ground, headfirst, in order to assist the seemingly endless thirst for power of a select few. At times, it seems as though this cycle will never end. A myriad of leaders have graced the country’s history in order to give its citizens some form of hope, but none have been able to complete a full term due to the unwavering lust surrounding our institutions to topple one-another.

There is no retribution for such carelessness. The idea of justice has been flirted with since the inception of a Pakistan, but this will never see the light of the day as long as checks and balances are void in everyday life.

Our administrative process is in tatters, and those that oversee it must rethink how it operates. It came to light recently that those who dare speak ill of the courts or the defence forces would succumb to the pressures of prison time and fees in the hundreds of thousands, or in some cases, in the millions. A multitude of folk have taken to the forefront criticising this, but they are merely made an example of. No-one’s criticism, constructive or otherwise, is heeded. It is high time for our respective institutions to step off their high horses and take a birds’ eye view of the situation at hand: risk default, and the desecration of the state, or hold back and let a country finally prosper for the better. No-one criticises their country’s institutions for the hell of it; they merely want to see them prosper.

The notion that the courts are working in favour of the common people is laughable. Lawmakers sitting at the helm of society must overhaul their repetitive conduct in recent years; they have taken the only thing the country holds sacred in unison, the constitution, and reduced it to mere fodder. Rule of law is absent from decision-making; it seems that novus actus and suo moto (or sua sponte) are the only facets of law-making such characters familiarise themselves with. The concept of law has become a laughingstock.

Pakistani judicial integrity currently sits at 129th worldwide. How did it get to a point where Bangladesh is two points ahead of us in such rankings? We had once considered the former East Pakistan to be a state inferior to that of West Pakistan. What about now? Does that same logic apply? India is fifty-two points ahead, in spite of their dogmatic government spewing hatred across the Indian Union. This is in a country where journalists are unable to express their views on the government without fear of investigation. Nevertheless, they have surpassed Pakistan in terms of administrative integrity.

Are we unable to coalesce a just system even with our smaller population, and one which should have been run on the tenets of Sharia? We had ample time to do so. Bangladesh, in their fifty years since declaring independence from Pakistan, has already sprawled into what we strived to become. India is leagues ahead. The difference that these nations had in their combined histories is that neither had an establishment breathing down their necks, threatening to throw their citizens in jail cells in the face of constructive criticism. This is what free speech is.

We need a just judicial system. We need a military we can count on to help us in the worst of times. We need our country back—and the only way we’ll get it back is by means of the implementation of a checks and balances system that works for the people, and not for our institutions.

Abdullah Raza is a student of law and politics at the National University of Ireland. He can be found on Twitter @abdullahesquire.