Washington, July 20: International Crisis Group president Justice Arbour has said it is possible that Pakistan''s Supreme Court could end up dissolving the democratically elected government with the help of the military, putting in place an extended caretaker government, in what would be, for all intents and purposes, another coup.
Justice Arbour said the current tension between Pakistan''s Supreme Court and the country''s elected officials might seem like a political soap opera, were it not for the court''s history of collusion with the military to suppress democracy, reports the Daily Times.
Justice Arbour''s interest, during her visit to Pakistan, was in the view of the legal community, whom she found deeply divided, seemingly on political lines. This troubled her, who worries that Pakistan''s Supreme Court has become increasingly politicised, threatening its credibility. She pointed to the Memo Commission, which she said "reflected very poorly on the judiciary", and added to the appearance of growing politicisation.
The present case, in which the Supreme Court has ordered the prime minister to write a letter to the Swiss authorities requesting to reopen graft cases against the president, adds to the appearance of an increasingly politicised judiciary.
Justice Arbour was also clear that her concerns about the Supreme Court''s actions do not imply a disinterest in accountability. There is a misconception that presidential immunity is unprecedented, she said.
Article 248 of Pakistan''s Constitution, which grants temporary immunity to Pakistan''s president, prime minister and governors, is clearly worded, said Justice Arbour; and that privilege exists for a reason - to allow government officials to perform their official duties without distraction.
Justice Arbour is not the only former Supreme Court justice to express grave concern about the direction of Pakistan''s Supreme Court. Last month, Justice Markandey Katju, a former member of the Supreme Court of India, wrote a detailed explanation for his concern that Pakistan''s Supreme Court is "playing to the galleries and not exercising the self-restraint expected of superior courts". (ANI)