ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Clash of Institutions in Pakistan

The removal of the prime minister of Pakistan by its Supreme Court is the latest round of a long struggle between the elected and unelected parts of the Pakistan state. This time, however, it is not the military but rather the judiciary which is directly confronting the democratically elected government, with the support of the media and other political parties. This has changed the terrain of the confl ict which cannot be defi ned in traditional terms anymore.

On 19 June 2012, a short order of the Supreme Court of Pakistan disqualified Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani from holding office starting from 26 April when he was sentenced for contempt of court for not writing the letter to the Swiss Court for investigation against President Asif Ali Zardari. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)-led coalition government, which was elected in 2008, has been in dire straits since the national reconciliation order (NRO) of the outgoing President Pervez Musharraf was declared null and void by the Supreme Court in December 2009. The NRO was issued after a deal, mediated by Washington, between Musharraf and then PPP president, Benazir Bhutto, to help build popular support for the military ruler as well as facilitate the participation of the PPP and other parties in the political process.

As a consequence of rescinding the NRO, around 8,000 cases pending with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) were reopened against politicians, bureaucrats and others, with more than 3,000 against the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) workers alone for violent crimes. However, the corruption case against Zardari has been most visibly heard by the Supreme Court under its chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, the current icon of justice in Pakistan.

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