Saturday, April 09, 2011

Constitutional Fidelity or Turf War? The Promise and Pitfalls of Judicial Activism in Pakistan

The South Asia Initiative at Harvard recently hosted a panel discussion on constitutionalism in Pakistan. Speakers included, Justice Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramday, Supreme Court of Pakistan, Osama Siddique, SJD Candidate, Harvard Law School
Beena Sarwar, Senior Journalist, Jang Group Pakistan & Fellow, Ash Center for Democratic Governance at HKS and was moderated by Noah Feldman, Bemis Professor of International Law, Harvard Law School

"As Pakistan awakens from a decade-long military rule, the nation finds itself in the grasp of political turmoil, economic challenges, weak democratic institutions and the menace of terrorism. But while these factors pose a serious threat for the nascent democracy in Pakistan, there are signs of hope for the believers as a resurgent Supreme Court, with support from the legal fraternity, is leading the way towards constitutional adherence and rule of law in the country. However, several voices of ‘liberal’ dissent argue that so long as religion plays a predominant role in Pakistan’s legal paradigm, there shall be a recurrent disposition to interpret and apply the law as an instrument of extremist religious ideology, and in the process shackle the progressive and liberal growth of democracy.This event will provide a forum for leading experts from Pakistan’s judiciary and the legal fraternity to engage in a constructive debate about the current state of constitutionalism in the country, as well as the role that religion plays in Pakistani laws. Through this forum, we hope to facilitate dialogue that fosters a better understanding of challenges confronting Pakistan’s legal landscape and a discussion that generates ideas on the best way forward."

The discussion can be viewed online here
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