Pakistan's Supreme Problem

Faisal Mahmood / REUTERS

Lawyers chant slogans in favour of a decision by the Supreme Court of Pakistan outside the court building in Islamabad June 19, 2012. Pakistan's increasingly assertive Supreme Court on Tuesday declared Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani ineligible for office, plunging the country into fresh political turmoil during a crisis in relations with the United States. In April, it found Gilani guilty of contempt of court for refusing to reopen corruption cases against the president. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood (PAKISTAN - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)

When Pakistan's Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry dismissed the country's Prime Minister on June 19, it looked from the outside like a triumph for the rule of law. After all, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had repeatedly defied the court's orders by failing to pursue corruption charges against President Asif Ali Zardari. Even though Gilani and Zardari's Pakistan People's Party — now headed by former Water and Power Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf — will likely still be able to limp through the completion of its term, Chaudhry's ruling represented a major assertion of authority for the historically complacent Pakistani...

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