This week, Balochistan and Pakistan has experienced a series of unprecedented events that have captured the nation’s attention and stirred up critical discussions about the judiciary, politics, and governance. From a groundbreaking Supreme Court ruling to a peaceful long march led by Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal and an eye-opening press conference by interim Prime Minister Anwar ul Haq Kakar, these events have left a profound impact on the country’s political landscape.
The Supreme Court’s recent judgment represents a significant turning point in Pakistan’s legal history. In response to a set of petitions contesting the trial of civilians in military courts, the Supreme Court issued a verdict that has sent shockwaves throughout the nation. The justices made it clear that, in the aftermath of the tumultuous events of May 9, the trials of civilians in military courts were legally invalid. They also declared two sections of the Army Act, which appeared to legitimize such trials, as unconstitutional. This ruling firmly upholds the supremacy of civilian authority and reinforces the primacy of the constitutional framework, rejecting undemocratic shortcuts.
Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal’s successful and peaceful long march in Quetta has raised significant questions about the freedom to express dissent and protest. It is striking that Section 144, which often restricts public gatherings and protests, was not imposed when people gathered on the streets and at press clubs to express their outrage over Israel’s actions in Palestine. Even more intriguing was the fact that Mehmood Khan Achakzai, while leading a protest in solidarity with the Palestinians, used the opportunity to express his political views at the Quetta Press Club. This juxtaposition reveals inconsistencies in the application of the law.
In response to Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal’s grand march, former spokesperson of the former Chief Minister, Abdul Quddoos Bizinjo, and former PTI Quetta worker Babar Yousufzai called an unplanned midnight press conference but failed to make a compelling case against Mengal. Additionally, the caretaker Information Minister, Jan Achakzai, and Babar Yousufzai struggled to connect with the public and media during this episode. This highlights the complexities of political dynamics and the challenges of aligning public perception with political intentions.
Interim Prime Minister Anwar ul Haq Kakar’s press conference on Monday took an unexpected turn. Instead of addressing questions related to the government’s performance, the repatriation of Afghan refugees, and economic stability, he faced a barrage of unrelated inquiries from media representatives. Kakar characterized these questions as groundless and nonsensical, sparking objections from the media. His interactions with working journalists, whom he had called his friends, were far from respectful, leading to repeated disruptions of the press conference.
Beneath the legal and political drama lies a larger debate about the governance structure in Pakistan. Should the nation adhere to the constitutional order envisioned by its founders, emphasizing equality under the law, due process, and the rule of law? Or should Pakistan continue down the path of a security state, where military institutions have a broader role in governance, including justice, lawmaking, foreign policy, and the economy? The Supreme Court’s recent judgment aligns with the vision of Pakistan’s founding fathers, reinforcing the importance of democracy and the rule of law.
Pakistan has entered a critical phase, where legal milestones have reaffirmed civilian supremacy and the importance of constitutional governance. At the same time, political events have shed light on the complexities of public dissent and the challenges facing political figures. These developments collectively emphasize the significance of democracy, the rule of law, and responsible governance in shaping Pakistan’s future.