A De Facto Judicial Coup?

February 22, 2018 Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , Pakistan

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Imad Zafar



In what can only be referred to as a de facto judicial coup, Pakistan’s Supreme Court have barred Nawaz Sharif from his position as president of his political party, the PML-N. It was a decision everyone knew long before it was announced. The Lodhran by-election result and the massive public gatherings in support of Sharif were not liked by the invisible forces so everyone knew that such a blow from the court would come at some stage.

The court verdict has not only denied the fundamental right of Sharif and political parties to choose their head but has also taken us back to the era of General Zia. Articles 62 and 63 were introduced by Zia-ul-Haq to victimize political opponents. The tried and tested methods of the invisible forces are proving effective again and it appears the court will soon also impose a ban on Sharif’s live speeches and public gatherings.

The way things are going it can be predicted that Sharif will be indicted in the cases running in the accountability courts. It seems that a time will come when even the voters of the PML-N will also be disqualified through the courts for their participation in the electoral process. Sadly the judiciary is again lending support to the invisible forces and validating the fact that the whole system is tailored to undermine democracy.


A law passed by parliament can never be declared null and void in any civilized democratic country, especially when the law is about a political party’s own choice of electing its president. Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution, to which a person should be honest, pious and holy like angels is not applicable in reality. Can any judge in the judiciary or anyone else give an oath that he or she qualifies on the interpretations of these articles?

The judiciary has certainly entered the domain of parliament and it seems that the political forces who are backed by the establishment have done damage to their own institution. It can be termed as a black day for democracy where a political leader was denied even the fundamental right of heading his political party. The credibility earned by the judiciary after the Lawyers’ Movement for the restoration of the judiciary in 2007 seems to have been lost.

The way Sharif is being victimized through the judiciary by the invisible forces is another dark chapter in the political history of Pakistan. In the process of ousting Sharif the invisible forces have actually made a mockery of the Constitution and judicial system of the country. A judiciary with a history of giving constitutional support to dictators and usurpers and awarding death and life imprisonment sentences to elected representatives at the behest of invisible forces certainly with this baggage could have avoided becoming a party in the power chessboard.


It seems that lessons from history are not being learnt and the process of hijacking the mandate of electorates will not be stopped. The recent court judgment is a clear indication that soon Sharif’s speech will be banned and he may be not even be allowed to hold public gatherings. The cases in the accountability courts will be enough to send him behind bars.

But will this end Sharif’s political career or will it prove helpful in orchestrating a planted electoral win for Imran Khan, the perceived pawn of the invisible forces? The answer seems to be in the negative. The recent judgment has in fact strengthened Sharif’s narrative and created a wave of sympathy for him. On the other hand it is almost impossible for the invisible forces to manage elections to the extent that Mr Khan’s party, the PTI, who only won 27 national assembly seats, can win even a simple majority in the coming elections.

It means that there is a possibility that the elections will not be conducted as the invisible forces know that Sharif cannot be defeated through the manipulation in elections. The senate elections due next month also seem to be in jeopardy as the court has declared all decisions made by Sharif null and void during his tenure as party president. This means that the senate elections will be held without the PMLN protesting as their candidate has been diqualified due to the court’s decision. With this in mind there is also the possibility they will contest the senate elections as independent candidates. In both scenarios however the democratic norms and values will be compromised.


For Sharif and his party this may be a temporary setback but in the long run it will help them a great deal on the political front. As per sources, Sardar Yaqoob Nasir, a trusted aide of Sharif, will be appointed as temporary head of the PMLN, and following her return, Kulsoom Nawaz will be appointed the president of the party. If the sources are true and Sharif’s wife will be made president of the party then this means Sharif’s politics will further revolve around an anti-establishment narrative and will keep pointing out the intent of the judiciary as corrupt.

The battle will become uglier and analysts and invisible forces who are expecting a ban on Sharif’s politics, like Altaf Hussain, are totally wrong in their assumptions. Altaf Hussain never enjoyed the credibility factor nor had he much of a record of good governance under his belt. He was created by the establishment to counter the People’s Party in Karachi, his political success built on the backing of the dictators and through fear.

Contrary to that, Sharif has earned respect across the country, his contribution to democracy, be it a struggle against dictatorship or a movement to restore judiciary are widely acknowledged. His development work, mega infrastructure projects, educational and health reforms are acknowledged by the masses. Sharif’s anti-establishment narrative and stance on civilian supremacy and his liberal and progressive stance in a conservative society not only win him the support in the country but also in the global community.

So there are no similarities between Sharif and Altaf Hussain, and expecting Sharif and his party to vanish like Altaf Hussain or the MQM can be only the wishes of the invisible forces, but does not seem possible in reality. Sharif is in fact capable of launching a massive campaign of agitation against the visible and invisible opponents which can lead us to a situation where only the state and the federation will be lost.


This means that we will therefore see more dirty moves and that state institutions will be used to eliminate Sharif politically. The big question that remains is will Pakistan ever see a real democracy instead of a controlled one. The black decisions remain as black judgments and no amount of propaganda or power can term them fair judgments. Javed Hashmi disclosed the conspiracy of the invisible forces in 2014 and revealed at that time that Imran Khan was told by the establishment that a judicial martial law would soon be imposed and that Sharif would be sent home. Javed Hashmi still to this day repeats the allegation and has challenged the court many times, but has never been sent a notice of contempt.

The current chain of events indicates that Javed Hashmi was right and the judicial coup was in the making all the time, the late Asma Jahangir stating before her death that the “caretakers are already here and we are living under an undeclared martial law.” One wonders at which point the invisible forces and honorable judiciary will learn from history. The hijacking of the mandate and efforts to remove a popular leader of East Pakistan led to the debacle of the fall of Dhaka but it seems even that tragedy has not taught the lesson to the invisible forces.

The honorable court should also learn from recent history where the Dogar court decisions were declared null and void after the restoration of democracy. An elected representative can be convicted only if proven guilty of a crime, not on the basis of likes and dislikes. Controlled democracy is a form of dictatorship and has no place in the modern world, nor is there one for a judicial coup.

The current judgment of disqualifying Sharif even from leading his party has actually undermined parliament and if the lawmaking body of the country is dependent on the judiciary’s interpretation of law then why is there a need to have only a symbolic parliament and symbolic democracy? The process of undermining political leadership and democracy is actually undermining the state itself.





Imad Zafar

Imad Zafar

Imad Zafar is a journalist based in Lahore. He is a regular Columnist/Commentator in newspapers. He is associated with TV channels, radio, newspapers, news agencies, political, policies and media related think tanks.

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