As if to redress perceived passivity from him in the past, Supreme Court of Pakistan Chief Justice Saqib Nisar has resorted to activism when attending functions, and taken to dropping hints over the court’s verdicts in the cases it is hearing against ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Case in point: possible disqualification of Sharif as head of his Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz). The observations made by the honorable court imply that a “liar”—that is, if a person is not sadiq (truthful) and ameen (honest)—is forever disqualified to hold elected office as well as the office of a party chief.
Everyone knows that the court has lowered itself into a litigation through which the political parties want to pull each other down. Everyone also knows that Sharif’s PMLN doesn’t get along with the Pakistan Army and that some judges are prone to show themselves as part of the more powerful establishment determined to replace the ruling PMLN with Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. Additionally, the Article pertaining to “sadiq” and “ameen” is of dubious origin, lending itself to judicial literalness. If someone has been caught lying once, does it mean he will be lying forever? Is lying somehow comparable to such un-compoundable crimes as murder? Even in the case of murder, manslaughter or unintentional killing is compoundable.
Lawyers offended with Justice Nisar’s excessively talkative activism criticize his “thief and robber” comment. They take it to mean that the court will also oust Sharif from his position of leader of the PMLN. Only the chief justice is to blame if some senior lawyers have chosen to come on TV and condemn what the Supreme Court seems to have decided to do to Sharif. Since the case is a “political thicket,” both sides are also fighting it out on the media—if that is any consolation for the court. But nothing good will come out of this judicial activism.