Feisal Naqvi

Archive for February, 2011|Monthly archive page

Hanging together or hanging alone

In Uncategorized on February 24, 2011 at 6:35 pm

The Pakistan Steel Mills is a bottomless pit which no amount of money can save. It should be privatised.

This is not just my opinion. It is now also the unanimous opinion of the Senate Standing Committee on Industries and Production.

I have very strong opinions about the Steel Mills decision, in part because I was engaged to draft the review petition filed against the ‘historic’ judgment of the Supreme Court (which rescinded the privatisation of the Steel Mills). And, like many lawyers, I immediately convinced myself that my client was more sinned against, than sinning.

The point of this column though is not to rehash the legal arguments raised in the review petition. That is a debate for another time and another place.

Instead, my point here is that if an averagely bright group of senators is all but begging the government to ditch the Steel Mills then, legalities aside, the intervention of the Supreme Court was not in Pakistan’s economic interest.

Let me put that assertion another way. The bid by the winning consortium was $362 million. The same consortium pledged to the Supreme Court that it would invest another $250 million in the project. Throw in the losses accumulated by the Steel Mills since 2007 and you’ve got another $400 million. In short, that judgment by the Supreme Court cost this country a billion dollars.

A billion dollars, to put it mildly, is real money. You can do a lot of good things with a billion dollars, even buy an F-16 or two. The opportunity cost of the Pakistan Steel Mills decision, in other words, was substantial.

At this point, defenders of the Steel Mills decision typically retort that the judgment was not about the economic desirability of privatising the Steel Mills. Instead, the foundation of the Steel Mills decision was the determination that proper procedures were not followed and that the process of privatisation lacked transparency.

There are two problems with that answer. The first problem is factual. I was not involved in the original Steel Mills litigation, but I remember being well aware of the wave of hysteria which gushed forth from the media about how priceless national assets were being sold for a song. Day after day, hour after hour, the universe of talking heads beat the issue to death — all in breathless unison over the fact that there had to be, just had to be, something fishy going on. I’m not saying that the Supreme Court did not come to the conclusion that legalities were not observed; but I don’t think the Court would have decided the way it did, had it been convinced of the economic merits of the deal.

The second problem with that answer is that it denudes the judgment of much of its legitimacy. If we assume that the sale of the Steel Mills was, in fact, a good deal — or, at the very least, a fair deal — it is difficult to simultaneously insist that the procedural defects found by the Supreme Court were so troubling that they would justify a billion dollar loss. In my view, and yes I am biased, those procedural flaws were trivial. Seriously, assuming that the price paid for the Steel Mills was fair, do we really care now that the valuation report was not delivered 30 days in advance? Do we really care that the approval of the winning bid did not separately declare that the winning bidder was also being approved?

Notwithstanding what it may look like, the point of this column is not to beat up on the Supreme Court for getting it wrong. Instead, I just think it would be a good idea if the Supreme Court was to realise that it is no more infallible than the rest of the institutions of our state. As Justice Jackson of the US Supreme Court once pointed out to his colleagues on the bench, “we are not final because we are infallible; we are infallible because we are final.”

This point is important because the legitimacy of the Supreme Court is — contrary to received wisdom — not separate from that of the rest of the state.

To explain, it is common ground in the media that (a) we are governed by crooks; and (b) our only salvation lies in the judiciary. This is a dangerous message because it feeds into an alternate narrative, which denies not just the legitimacy of the current regime, but the legitimacy of democratic governance too. In other words, what the ordinary person takes home from the media roar is not just that all politicians are crooks, but that the system itself is useless. But if that message takes sufficient hold, the explosion which follows will wipe out not just the current crop of ministers and advisers but the entire system, inclusive of the judiciary.

I am by no means suggesting that their Lordships should be less than vigilant in trying to protect the rights of the people. Fairness also compels me to concede that their Lordships are not responsible for the manner in which the media chooses to broadcast pending proceedings. What I am saying though is the following two things. First, as shown by the Steel Mills case, we all make mistakes. Second, their Lordships must realise that they cannot separate their legitimacy from that of the other branches of state. If one branch sinks in popular estimation, eventually so will the others. What their Lordships must therefore ensure is that they do not wind up sawing at a branch on which they themselves are perched.

This column appeared first in the daily Express Tribune on 24 Feb. 2011.



Fundamentalism in the age of Facebook

In Uncategorized on February 22, 2011 at 3:07 am

by Feisal H. Naqvi

It is a cold hard fact of nature that those who start revolutions often do not get to enjoy them. Many of the sans culottes who stormed the Bastille in 1789 paid for their temerity with their lives. In 1917, the Tsar was ousted not by the Bolsheviks but by Kerensky and other socialists of the Provisional Government. And as for the 1978 Revolution in Iran, does anybody but their descendants really remember Shahpour Bakhtiar and Mehdi Bazargan?

The question of what to do with a revolution in a Muslim country has gained new relevance in the past few days because of the tumultuous events in Egypt and Tunisia. In both of those countries, popular dissatisfaction has led to the unceremonious ouster of well entrenched autocrats. As a consequence, many observers have jumped to the conclusion that the old choice between a secular dictator and a fundamentalist democracy a la Iran is now dead.

Is that really so? Have Facebook and Twitter really killed all the monsters lurking in the hearts of Muslims? I am not so sure.

Let me begin my thoughts with a plethora of caveats. I have never been to either Egypt or Tunisia. I know very little about the history and the culture of either country. I am in no position to prognosticate about their future with any degree of confidence. But like many other writers before me, I am not going to let my complete ignorance stop me from making a complete fool of myself.

In my defence, I am not trying to make sense of either the Egyptian or the Tunisian revolutions. What I am interested in is how these two countries will make sense of themselves in the years ahead. Both of these countries are predominantly Muslim. Both of these countries are now going to try and develop a popular form of democracy. If either of these countries can develop an intellectually sustainable form of Islam and liberal democracy, my life as a Pakistani will be different (as will the lives of all Muslims). And while I hope I am wrong, history certainly gives me great reason to be cautious.

Let me begin with the simple stuff: Facebook is not going to kill fundamentalism. Within 24 hours of the assassination of Salman Taseer, there were pages on Facebook extolling his assassin’s glorious services to Islam. Facebook is a tool which people use to connect, just like the internet generally. Some people use the internet to debate high philosophy. Other people use the internet to deliver death threats and to learn how to make dirty bombs. Most of Pakistan uses it to watch pictures of nekkid girls.

What then is the real issue?

The basic problem facing all Muslim countries is that there is a fundamental antipathy between Islamic legalism and liberal democracy. The essence of liberal democracy is that legitimacy proceeds from the freely granted consent of the governed. The essence of Islamic legalism is that legitimacy proceeds from fidelity to a set of rules ordained by Allah and that no government, democratic or otherwise, can be legitimate if it wanders outside those rules. Between the will of the people and the will of Allah, there can be only one which is supreme

At this point, the standard response on behalf of the Islamists is that Islam can too be democratic. At the end of the day, the Quran is but a constitution freely adopted by Muslim citizens of a state. And just like Western regimes cannot go outside their constitutional confines, Islamic regimes cannot go outside the confines of the Quran.

The analogy, though enticing, is wrong at multiple levels. The first problem is theoretical: a constitution takes its legitimacy from the fact that it is a living compact between citizens, not in the fact that it was revealed by God. Even if all the citizens of a country declare repeatedly and passionately that they wish nothing else than to be bound by the Quran, that will not turn the Quran into a constitution because the theoretical possibility of amending the Quran will not be present.

The second problem is more substantive. A constitution tends to consist of broad generalities and leaves much to the legislature. However, even within those broad confines, elements of conflict are inevitable. One consequence of this conflict is that the judges of the superior courts in every country with a constitution are engaged in a continuous reinterpretation of that constitution. However, no such reinterpretation of Islamic law is acceptable. In other words, Islamic jurisprudence simply does not allow for the interpretation of the Quran as if it were a constitution.

Let me explain further. I am not – repeat, not – trying to say that there is no room for interpretation in Islamic law. Every text requires interpretation and the Quran is no different in this regard. However, there is a huge difference between the norms of constitutional interpretation and legal interpretation as generally accepted within Islamic jurisprudential theory. To be more precise, Islamic jurisprudence differs from constitutional jurisprudence by not having a theory of change. Instead, Islamic jurisprudence only has a theory of error.

Let me explain this difference with some examples. The First Amendment to the US Constitution states in extremely blunt terms that Congress shall make “no law” respecting the freedom of the Press. What the words “no law” mean has been the subject of great debate over centuries. Justice Hugo Black, for one, thought that “no law” meant just that, i.e. no law, period. Most jurists have, however, conceded that some “reasonable” restrictions of free speech are permissible and then go on to discuss whether particular restrictions are “reasonable or not.” And at different moments in time, jurisprudential consensus as to what constitutes a reasonable restraint of free speech has varied enormously over time. The same Congress which passed the First Amendment also passed the Sedition Act of 1789, a law which would almost certainly fail to pass judicial scrutiny today.

The response at this stage is likely to be “so what?” After all, Islamic jurists spend their time engaged in heated debate as to what is the correct interpretation of particular verses. How then is Quranic interpretation different from constitutional interpretation?

To understand how Islamic legal interpretation is different, take the oft-debated issue of the number of wives a man may have under Islamic law. As is well known, the Quran says that a man have up to four wives provide he treats them equally. The Quran then adds a further injunction that no one can treat their wives equally.

The traditional legal interpretation of this point is that a Muslim man may indeed have up to four wives. The Quranic statement that no man can treat all four wives equally is thus taken to mean that absolute equality is impossible and that reasonable equality of treatment is sufficient.

Compared to this, we have the modern day reformist perspective. The reformist argument is that when the Quran states that it is impossible to treat all four wives equally, it should be taken literally and that Islamic law only allows Muslim men to have one wife at a time.

The heated debate over this issue tends to hide the fact that both the reformist and traditional schools of interpretation assume that there can only be one truly Islamic law which is valid for all times. Thus, the traditional scholar argues that a Muslim man could have four wives in 611 A.D. and that he can have four wives in 2011. The reformist argues that a Muslim could actually only have had one wife back in 611 AD and that the same holds true in 2011. What neither school is willing to concede is that Islamic law in back 611 allowed for four wives at a time but that Islamic law in 2011 only allows for one wife. This is because neither traditional scholars nor reformers allow for the possibility of change in Islamic law: both approaches assume that what is true in Islamic law is true for all times – past, present and future. And it is in this sense that Islamic jurisprudence differs from constitutional jurisprudence. Constitutional jurisprudence has no problems stating that what was true yesterday is no longer true today while at the same time conceding that was true yesterday was indeed true yesterday. Islamic jurisprudence does not allow for that: either something is true for both yesterday and today or it is not true at all. There is no temporal variation permitted in Islamic jurisprudence.

To understand why this is so, one has to go back back into Islamic history and the debate over the createdness of the Quran. To explain, there are two general schools of thought in Islamic jurisprudence when it comes to the nature of the Quran. The first school of thought holds that while the Quran is divine in origin, it was created at a particular moment in time at a particular place and consequently, the meaning of the Quran can only be fully understood through an appreciation of the temporal and historical context within which it was revealed. The second school of thoughts holds that the Quran is not just divine in origin but divine in essence. The Quran was thus not “created” at any moment in time. Instead, the Quran is “uncreated,” existing like Allah outside space and time.

The reason why the createdness of the Quran has jurisprudential consequences is because the Quran is the primary source of law for all Muslims. If the Quran exists outside space and time, then so too does Islamic law. And if Islamic law exists outside time and space, then it cannot vary over time. And if it cannot vary over time, then what is true today must have been true yesterday and vice versa. On the other hand, if the Quran was created at a particular moment in time at a particular place, then Islamic law is contextual. And if it is contextual, then what is Islamically true can vary with time and geography.

At one level it may seem absurd to have an argument over whether or not Islamic law can vary with time. After all, if Islamic law does not provide for variations in time and space, then one can with a straight face argue that both slavery and concubinage are Islamically valid, even today.

I do not have a good explanation for the jurisprudential poverty of modern Islamic thought (and yes, my own ignorance may well be relevant). One answer though can be found in Khaled Abou el Fadl’s book, “The Great Theft” which details how a flood of Wahabi money has led to a world in which a thousand years of legal scholarship is being systematically overwritten in favour of the simplistic theology preferred by the House of Saud. But as innately sympathetic as I am to that argument, I am not sure if that really captures the entire picture.

The missing element lies, I think, in the fact that Islamic jurisprudential thought is both tremendously advanced and tremendously irrelevant. Let me explain: Islamic jurisprudential thought is tremendously advanced because for more than a thousand years, the brightest minds of the Muslim world have devoted their energies to teasing out the finest details of Islamic law. That scholarship cannot and must not be taken lightly. Indeed, as George Makdisi has demonstrated, the very foundations of the system of colleges made famous by Oxford and Cambridge most likely lie in systems of Islamic scholarship imported by the West.

At the same time, the most important aspect of Islamic jurisprudence is that it has for the vast majority of its thousand plus years of existence resigned itself to being an ivory tower construct. What one finds in Islamic legal history is thus a Faustian bargain where the sultan de jour would ceremoniously bow towards the ulema and the ulema would in return obligingly rubber-stamp all that the sultan wanted. Since Islamic law was politically irrelevant for all but very small parts of history, it never needed to change.

Let me now try and put together all of these disparate elements into a coherent analysis. First, Islamic jurisprudence is serious business. That means the average person cannot just get up on a soapbox and argue that a particular course of action is “Islamic.” Instead, the only people who get to wield the stamp of Islamic legitimacy are professional Islamic scholars. Second, Islamic jurisprudence has been politically irrelevant for the vast majority of its existence. With obvious exceptions, it did not seek to challenge power; it sought only to preserve its own little zone of autonomy. As a consequence, it operates largely as an idealistic construct and does not recognize reality, economic or otherwise, as a constraint.

If the ruler of a Muslim country is an autocrat, the traditional relationship between the ruler and his scholars continues to function. The introduction of democracy, however, changes everything. Because the citizenry is Muslim, it wants its laws to be “Islamic.” Because of the deeply entrenched nature of the Islamic legal community, this hands power to a small group of scholars. Because of their historically isolated nature, it means that those scholars are entirely unequipped to deal with the modern world. And because of the massive influence of Saudi money, those scholars are being encouraged to adopt a particularly regressive approach to Islam. Islam in a democracy can therefore operate like a one-way ratchet into a progressively Talibanised world.

Obviously, my theory is grossly simplistic. To begin with, it does not take into account the immense common sense of the average Muslim who has happily survived the past thousand plus years by ignoring most of the stupidities mouthed by the average mullah. At the same time, common sense can only last so long.  At least so far as Pakistan is concerned, the state has, up until now, been unable to prevent the ever-increasing exploitation by fundamentalists of the general desire for some sort of an Islamic imprimatur. As shown by the murder of Salmaan Taseer and the subsequent glorification of his killer, ideas which were once derided as ignorant or extremist have now moved into the mainstream of political thought.

My hunch though is that Egypt will certainly fare better in dealing with the challenge of political Islam than Pakistan. To begin with, Egypt is unlikely to share Pakistan’s neurotic obsession with the purpose of the state if only because Egypt has existed as a distinct nation for all of recorded history. The good news though is that if more countries succeed visibly in balancing Islam, modernity and democracy, the fundamentalist hold on the Muslim imagination will necessarily be weakened. And for that reason, the advent of democracy in Egypt can truly be the harbinger of something momentous.

Let me return now to my jurisprudential meanderings and the theory of the uncreated Quran. What is important to remember about this theory is that it is just that; a theory. The Quran itself does not say whether it is created or uncreated: both views are man-made additions to the corpus of Islamic thought. More importantly, the reason why a jurisprudential theory as visibly open to challenge as the theory of the uncreated Quran has continued to survive is self-evidently because it has not been challenged in public debate till now. Yes, one of the dangers of introducing democracy in a Muslim country is that democratic norms may become subordinated to the views of a narrow-minded few with the power to define that which is Islamic. At the same time, the reason why Islamic political thought has yet to reach an accommodation with liberal democracy is because the two concepts have not been forced to cohabit for any length of time. If and when that happens, the lives of Muslims will change radically for the better.

This article originally appeared on http://www.3quarksdaily.com on 14 Feb. 2011.


Sweating the small stuff

In Uncategorized on February 10, 2011 at 3:36 am

HAVING a revolution is easy; not much more difficult, in fact, than having a baby. Take some moonlight, add some sweet nothings, a dollop of passion and that’s amore.

The tricky part, to continue the metaphor, is not having the baby but taking care of it. Babies are born helpless and must be nurtured for a long time before they can become useful members of society. The same goes for societies birthed by revolutions.

I mention all of this because of the breathless excitement in some quarters about Pakistan being pregnant with revolutionary potential, just hovering on the brink of becoming another Tunisia. Give me a break. Listen up people: we already had a revolution. In fact, we’ve had several. Revolutions don’t solve problems: they make solutions possible.

After you have had your revolution you still need to go out and do the hard work. Streets need to be swept, crooks need to be put in jail and trains need to run. Otherwise, you will wind up in the same position as before — poor, miserable and yearning for a revolution.

There is a popular self-help book titled Don’t sweat the small stuff … and it’s all small stuff. Since I haven’t read the tome, I can’t comment on whether it fixes personal problems or not. What I can tell you is that the big-picture approach doesn’t work when it comes to governance because good governance is all about the small stuff.

To take a different metaphor, good governance is like water-proofing a boat. You have to make sure that each and every joint is properly sealed because if you leave even a single weak spot, water will inevitably and invariably seep through.

The problem though with sweating the small stuff is that it takes time. Each incremental victory has to be patiently accumulated and added to the list of all other insights carefully gleaned over the years. The only way to get to good governance then is through a constant process of trial and error: nobody gets to good governance overnight.

There is a story, probably apocryphal, of the visitor to Wimbledon who inquired as to how the grass on Centre Court was so perfect. “It’s easy,” was the reply. “Cut and roll. Then repeat for a hundred years.” Good governance works much the same way.

It is precisely because good governance relies on a million tiny victories that continuity of policy is important. When we had our last great glorious revolution in 2007-08, the newly elected regimes thought that the best way to demonstrate their democratic credentials was to throw out all the work done by the Musharraf regime, irrespective of whether the work was good or bad. And so multiple babies got discarded along with the bathwater.

The best example of this short-sighted approach is the decision to ditch the local government laws. Devolution is a complicated subject but broadly speaking, there are few people who disagree with the merits of the proposition that governance decisions need to be made closer to home. The Musharraf approach was valid in theory but flawed in execution, a fact which was hugely hyped by opponents of devolution.

However, major legislative changes always take time to work themselves out. The truth of the matter is that by the time the local government laws were suspended they were working reasonably well. The main reason why the local government laws were suspended is not because they were flawed but because neither our rulers nor their henchmen were inclined to share their powers. As such, they both found it convenient to get rid of the local government laws.

Unfortunately, the only thing worse than what our newly elected governments have done is what the discontented propose, beseeching the army to step back in. I concede that our newly provincial and federal governments have been both incompetent and luridly corrupt in equally outstanding measure. But that is a cross we have to bear. We do not have the option of going back to square one over and over again.

The standard response to this argument is that unless some strongman/hero steps in to save the day there will be nothing left to save. I don’t buy that argument if only because it is self-reinforcing. Dictatorship not only destroys the institutions that democracy needs to survive but weakens the prospect of accountability.

In other words, if democracy is a temporary aberration then your elected representatives have no reason not to be corrupt. That corruption in turn fuels the demand for intervention which, when it finally arrives, only reinforces the belief of the rational politician that money needs to be made in a hurry because there is little chance of a long run at the helm.

Obviously, one answer to our problems is for a philosopher king to take over: unfortunately, the Pakistan Army seems unlikely to produce one. We are therefore stuck with the reality that every dictator who comes in will eventually lose his way, even those who arrive with the best of intentions. As Lord Acton helpfully pointed out, power tends to corrupt. That tendency holds as true for Pakistan as for anywhere else.

Any idiot can lead a revolution — and many often do. What we need is somebody to take care of the one we’ve already had.

This column first appeared in Dawn on 10 Feb. 2011.


Time to change a dead law

In Uncategorized on February 1, 2011 at 4:53 am

The law of contempt has broken down. It is time for us to reconsider it.

The phrase “contempt of court” covers a variety of situations. For example, it can refer to situations when a particular person or authority refuses to obey a court order. It can also refer to what is called “scandalising the court”.

Those types of contempt are not problematic. Everybody agrees that people should do what judges tell them because otherwise the judicial system would collapse. Similarly, everybody agrees that it is not a good idea to have litigants telling judges that their mothers used to wear combat boots (or words to that effect).

What is problematic is the idea that commenting on a pending case constitutes contempt. At one level, the concept makes perfect sense. People go to court to get justice and to have their disputes adjudicated. If their disputes are instead being thrashed out by the general public, then the purpose of adjudication is defeated. The concept makes even more sense in countries with jury trials. The idea behind a jury trial is that a person is tried by an unbiased group of his peers. If those peers are already convinced that the accused is a criminal, then there is not much point to the trial.

Pakistani courts have traditionally taken a very strict view of what constitutes contempt. This is in part due to their inheritance of the colonial conceit that it was good for the natives to be in complete awe of the barra sahib and not second-guess his views. However, that colonial relic remained alive until quite recently. For example, the Supreme Court held in the 1998 case of Masroor Ahsan that any comment on any pending case constituted contempt (other than a straightforward description of what was stated in court).

Till 2007, the Masroor Ahsan view prevailed unchallenged. The media tended to avoid discussing pending cases and when they did, they did so in very careful terms. All of this changed in connection with the removal and restoration of the Chief Justice. Suddenly the airwaves were full of expert views discussing the merits of his removal and opining as to whether or not President Musharraf was acting within the bounds of law. By the time the CJP was permanently restored in March 2009, the law of contempt seemed dead. Now anybody with an opinion on pending litigation could (and would) tell you what he thought.

The liberation of the media from the shackles of the law of contempt has been given further impetus by the new focus of the Supreme Court on public interest cases. The media and the Supreme Court now seem to be working in unison. Intrepid reporters probe the murky realms of scandal and come back from time to time with “shocking” stories. These shocking stories are presented to the public with the implied (and occasionally, express) request to the Supreme Court to step in. The same stories also get converted into petitions to the court. Once in a while the Court does indeed pick up a “scandal” for further review and the media then goes into paroxysms of approval, before going off to find fresh “scandals” and “scams.”

Let me make one thing clear: I have nothing against the media exposing scandals and I have nothing against the courts crucifying those found guilty. However, this dynamic places an incredible burden on both the media and the courts to act responsibly. And I am not sure that the burden is being met.

The first problem with the media is that there is no market for self-criticism of the media, at least not as compared to the dramatic joys of finding scams and scandals. Given the fact that we have no law of libel in Pakistan (at least, not for any practical purposes) the only constraints on the media are those that it chooses to recognise. And self-regulation does not work for the media any better than it works anywhere else.

The second problem with the media is that since there is an institutional bias in favour of sensationalism, the dice is always loaded against the person accused. Even if an accused denies his guilt, the sentence is likely to begin with the phrase, “the accused in the megabillion XYZ scam.” Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

It is at this stage that the law of contempt comes in. The only way that an accused can defend himself against charges is by explaining precisely why he is innocent. But if he does that in the media, he is guilty of contempt (at least under the law as it now stands).

The combination of an overzealous media and an archaic law of contempt produce a Hobson’s choice for litigants facing trial by media. If they fire back in the media, not only do they perpetuate the claims against them but they face possible contempt charges. On the other hand, if they keep quiet, the general public becomes convinced that they are indeed crooks, so much so that their eventual exoneration becomes irrelevant.

In my view, the solution to this problem is not to force the media back into the old days of avoiding all comment on pending litigation. While that may sound good in theory, those days are long gone. Pakistan is blessed with an activist and fearless media and we need to make the most of it. Similarly, the solution to the problem does not lie in asking the courts to refrain from examining issues of public policy. As in the case of the media, Pakistan’s judiciary is both active and fearless. And I would much rather have the occasional miscarriage of justice than a return to the days of a rubber-stamp judiciary.

What then is the solution? In my view, the solution lies in loosening the boundaries of the law of contempt, at a minimum in relation to public interest litigation. If issues are going to be tried in the media simultaneously with the courts then the least we can provide those accused of crimes is an opportunity to defend themselves. What is not tolerable is the current situation where the only voices heard are self-appointed guardians of the public interest. Let those accused by the media be free to respond in the media as well as before the courts.

There is also one final aspect of this problem to consider. People are generally aware that a free media is a new phenomenon in Pakistan and that it must be nurtured, even at the cost of suffering the occasional excesses. What people need to realise is that a crusading judiciary is also a new phenomenon in Pakistan. As in the case of the media, an independent judiciary is one of the most vital guarantees of our freedoms. Over time, both institutions will learn to regulate their powers. Till then, we may have no option but to wait. However, reviewing the contempt law would certainly help.

This column appeared first in the daily Pakistan Today on 1 February 2011.