The Faizabad Dharna case judgement in Pakistan has significant implications for the country’s future. The case arose from a protest at Faizabad interchange in 2017, which became a test of democratic institutions and freedom of expression. The Supreme Court took up the case under its suo motu jurisdiction, allowing it to address matters of public importance. The case is unprecedented for several reasons. Firstly, it challenges the establishment and questions the dominance of political parties aligned with it. Secondly, it targets the current military establishment, rather than waiting until after their tenure. Thirdly, it examines the role of armed forces and intelligence agencies, including the ISI, and calls for them to adhere to their constitutional role. The judgement also supports civilian institutions and promotes a free press. It takes a firm stance against religious extremism and bigotry, aiming to curb radicalism and preserve social harmony. The consequences and potential pathways of the case are complex. It has caused divisions within the judiciary and impacted civil liberties. Justice Isa may choose to implement the judgement, which could lead to confrontation with the establishment or navigate a more cautious approach. Pursuing accountability for retired generals, as seen in the Musharraf trial, also poses challenges. Ultimately, Pakistan needs an honest reckoning and a commitment to democratic principles and the rule of law.
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