Pakistan’s descent into political chaos is picking up speed. The last week has seen corruption allegations undermine the integrity of one of the country’s top television channels as well as the family of the chief justice of the Supreme Court. Now comes news that the very same chief justice has dismissed Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani from office because of a long-running feud with the country’s president.As the New York Times explains, this move had been brewing for some time:
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry declared that Mr. Gilani’s office had been effectively vacant since April 26 when the court convicted him on contempt charges because he refused to pursue a corruption case against President Asif Ali Zardari, his superior.Although the decision is unlikely to topple the government, many viewed it as the product of a grudge-driven tussle between Mr. Zardari and Justice Chaudhry, with the prime minister caught in the middle. “The court has been gunning for the prime minister for a long time,” said Najam Sethi, a veteran political analyst. “Clearly there is a lot of politics in this.”
Since Gilani’s removal, executive decisions made after April 26 have been thrown into constitutional limbo, including the passing of the federal budget. Uncertainty also surrounds Pakistan’s attempt to negotiate a reopening of NATO supply lines into Afghanistan.But the symbolic resonance is more profound. Pakistan is a country where nothing works: a military without strategy, leaders without vision, politicians without patriotism, courts without law, businesses without integrity, too many religious “leaders” who preach hate. This is what a country looks like when everything is going wrong.