Towards boiling point

In utter disregard of the acutely critical situation the country is passing through, the government has opted for an open confrontation with the Supreme Court. The Prime Minister’s address in the Senate on Friday is ample indication of the firm attitude that his government has decided to adopt to defeat the SC’s verdict on the NRO as far as the President is concerned, though it has at last come round to taking action against all other functionaries tainted by this inglorious ordinance. It seems that the ruling set-up is all out to shield Mr Zardari and face the consequences of defying the court’s unambiguous decision in this regard. In this context, the Chief Justice’s warning, stern though somewhat vaguely worded, alluding to serious results, could not be taken lightly by any sane person – “wise”, in the CJ’s terminology – unless he has decided to take the final plunge. On the other hand, shedding all vagueness that has so far marked the stand of the PML-N, Mian Nawaz Sharif has told a news conference at Lahore that his party will side with the apex court in case the government continued to defy its verdict on the NRO.
It is strange that Mr Gilani should be taking a line to proclaim the ‘supremacy’ of Parliament that would not hold ground anywhere in the world. He should know that under the Constitution, the Supreme Court, and not Parliament, is empowered to interpret and clarify legal points. Thus, it falls on the court to decide the question whether the President has any immunity against prosecution in the acts committed before he assumed office, and once it has pronounced its verdict, there is no room for resistance. Mr Gilani appeared to be inciting the parliamentarians to do something to ensure that their institution was shown respect, without citing any instance when the court had not shown respect due to it. The argument of elected by the people is not relevant here. Politically conscious Pakistanis feel quite tense, rather scared, at the prospect of a grave situation that threatens to develop in the coming few days when the contents of the summary on the implementation of the NRO verdict, approved by Mr Gilani, are placed before the SC. One really wonders what form the brewing confrontation might take and to what consequences it might lead.