A Supreme Court or a constitutional jirga ?

Authored by: Moeen Cheema

Routledge Handbook of Autocratization in South Asia

Print publication date:  December  2021
Online publication date:  December  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367486747
eBook ISBN: 9781003042211
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter investigates the role that the Supreme Court has played in the context of an increasing democratic deficit and the emergence of what is being widely referred to as a civil-military ‘hybrid’ regime in Pakistan. It closely analyses high-profile constitutional cases before and after the 2018 elections, and the resulting transfer of power to the incumbent government. The chapter argues that in such cases involving matters of high constitutional law and politics the apex court has developed a method to temporarily reduce the political and inter-institutional tensions by mediating between the various power centres and reaching intermediate outcomes, rather than principled peremptory decisions. While such judicial intervention temporarily reduces political strains, it ultimately enables the hybrid regime to assert its dominance under the cover of judicial oversight, contributing to autocratization in Pakistan.

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