System in danger


Whither circumspection?

The PPP supported by allies has the required number of votes to get its nominee elected as the new PM and another one after his removal. Instead of ending the ongoing confrontation with the SC, this could however further exacerbate it. One may differ with the way the apex court continues to pressure the executive to write to the Swiss authorities. But once the court has delivered its judgment, it is must for everyone concerned to carry it out. This is what the PPP government has rightly done.
There are only two ways to defuse the crisis. First, instead of advising the next PM to once again decline to carry out the orders of the SC, the PPP could agree to write the required letter. In view of President Zardari’s reluctance to allow what he calls the “trial of Benazir’s grave”, there is little likelihood of the party taking this course. Second, to enter into talks with the opposition to put together a neutral caretaker setup and a firm date for early elections. President Zardari insists that his party has the right to complete the remaining nine months of its constitutional tenure. Legally, this may be a sound position but politically this does not appear to be feasible.
The situation is rife with dangers for the system. The ruling alliance is at loggerheads with the opposition which is gradually moving towards the one point agenda of fresh elections. What is more, the government is simultaneously confronting the SC. Certain sections of the establishment might be happy over the way the SC has removed the PM, but they are perturbed over the way the SC is trying to rein in the security agencies. Meanwhile, the lawyers community has been divided into hostile groups, and the entry of some of the outstanding leaders of their community into bar rooms has been banned. The government has to realise the gravity of the situation. It must not take confrontation with the SC and the opposition to a stage where a small push from outside sends the system hurtling down the abyss.