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Abstract

The recent experience of the Pakistani Supreme Court (“Court”) is puzzling for many; this dissertation focuses on three separate (but related) issues of judicial strategy which follow from the Court’s experience. The first chapter explores why the Court willingly and aggressively took on cases which predictably attracted disobedience. Among other things, I argue that disobedience in these cases did not damage the Court’s legitimacy and may have even allowed it to build supportive constituencies across the public. The second chapter seeks to discuss the Court’s implementation strategy by focusing on its attempt to capture the bureaucracy. The Court remarkably made civil servants more amenable to judicial (as opposed to political) control, by attempting to alter the cost and benefit structure of the bureaucracy. The third chapter examines the Court’s success in warding off attacks from the executive. I argue that while the Court’s public support and a fragmented political elite have certainly facilitated judicial power, these factors are not enough to completely explain the exceedingly immutable position of the judiciary in Pakistan. This chapter proposes the civil-military imbalance in Pakistan as an explanatory variable and discusses, in particular, the Court’s treatment of military prerogatives between the years 2005-2015. This dissertation offers an empirical account of over 1545 orders passed by the Court between the years 2002-2016, primarily in its suo motu jurisdiction. The vast majority of these orders are not approved for reporting and have accordingly not been the subject of academic debate. I also share results from a recent (2017) nationally representative survey conducted by this author in collaboration with Gallup Pakistan. This dissertation provides important findings which go against current thought in the field of judicial behavior.

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