Islamabad: Emphasising that missiles and tanks can never guarantee stability and security, Pakistan`s Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry has said that judges have to ensure that all state institutions maintain the supremacy of the law.
"Gone are the days when stability and security of the country was defined in terms of number of missiles and tanks as a manifestation of hard power available at the disposal of the state," Chaudhry said.
"As a guardian and protector of the Constitution of Pakistan, a heavy responsibility lies upon the judges of the Supreme Court to uphold the canons of constitutional predominance and its supremacy over all other institutions and authorities," he said, while addressing a delegation from the National Management College yesterday.
There was some speculation yesterday that the Chief Justice`s remarks were a response to comments by the powerful army chief, Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, about no single institution having a monopoly in defining national interests.
However, officials clarified that the Chief Justice had delivered his address almost an hour before the military issued a statement with Kayani`s remarks.
Kayani did not explain the context of his remarks though analysts said they were a response to orders issued by the Supreme Court for action against former army chief Gen Mirza Aslam Beg and former Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt Gen Asad Durrani for distributing money to politicians to rig the 1990 general election.
The Chief Justice`s address focused more on the importance of constitutionalism and its role in guiding economic and social development to achieve a welfare state.
Chaudhry said it was regrettable that weak administration and failure of the implementation framework was prevalent everywhere.
"There seems to be no cohesive efforts in terms of a national framework wherein the mega issues have been tackled in an appropriate manner," he said.
"The composition, powers and jurisdiction of the Supreme Court are set out by the Constitution itself and the court exercises original, appellate, review and advisory jurisdictions and its decisions are binding on all other courts of Pakistan," he added.
He emphasised that the implementation of fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution was the sine qua non of a truly independent welfare state.
"Today, the concept of national security has been redefined as a polity wherein a state is bound to provide its citizens with overwhelming, social security and welfare nets and to protect their natural and civil rights at all costs," he pointed out.
"Thus, the executive branch of the country ably assisted by professionally trained civil service is bound to provide a conducive environment where the vast majority of people are able to make progress in various disciplines of their choices," he said.
Strong institutions formed the bedrock for building everlasting mechanisms and sustaining socio-economic, political and cultural growth and development, he added.
For a developing country like Pakistan, the basic requirement for enhancing national growth through competitiveness is pegged on strengthening of institutions, infrastructure, economic stability and health and education, he said.
"If rules and regulations always create a level playing field and provide equal opportunity to all under the Constitution and law, then a society is bound to grow. On the other hand, if the dice is loaded against the majority, the environment will generate frustration and distortions leading to chaos and restlessness in the society," Chaudhry said.