Editorial by Pakistan Today
Both politicians and the establishment
Reacting to reports that some of the pro-PML-N microbloggers had been arrested under cyber-crime laws, Nawaz Sharif has criticized the action as according to him this amounted to suppression of the opponents’ views which is against the freedom of expression granted under the constitution. Those arrested were presumably supporting a political discourse popularized by Nawaz Sharif himself among PML-N workers after the Panama case verdict. During the march from Islamabad to Lahore and later the former Prime Minister made insinuations suggesting that his disqualification was in fact the outcome of an underhand compact between the army and judiciary.
Parties in power often pass double-edged laws because they want to use them against political opponents forgetting that these could turn into their own nemesis in a changed political scenario. The Cyber Crime Law under which two of the PML-N bloggers were booked was passed last year when Nawaz Sharif was prime minister. In fact the first batch of bloggers to be arrested belonged to the PTI, leading Imran Khan to accuse federal government of abusing the law. Now when the law pinches the PML-N, Nawaz Sharif calls it foul play.
The judiciary and army are highly respectable institutions. This explains why in democracies the two are rarely subjected to criticism. There is a need to realize why the two are a frequent target of criticism in Pakistan. The past history of judiciary is unfortunately less than glorious. It has often lent itself to be treated as a handmaiden by military rulers and powerful civilian leaders to pass judgments that have left a blot on its reputation. Under former CJ Ifthikhar Chaudhry the judiciary once again entered the political minefield. The army has a history of overthrowing elected governments. Even now it takes decisions related to security and foreign affairs that come under the purview of the elected government. Positive changes have taken place overtime but much more needs to be done by the two to be seen as purely professional institutions fully focused on their constitutional role and not transgressing into other institutions’ turf.