It is becoming increasingly clear to members of the US Congress that Pakistan is a failed state and no amount of US aid will ever change that," influential US lawmaker Dana Rohrabacher wrote to former Pakistani prime minister Yousuf Gilani in the first week of May.
On June 19, Foreign Policy magazine published a list of failed states ranking Pakistan at 13th place because "the country is run by a military obsessed with — and, for decades invests in — the conflict with India, and by a civilian elite that steals all it can and pays almost no taxes."
It would not have ruffled Gilani much since such rankings had become routine. In 2009 and 2010, it was ranked at 10th place and in 2011 it was ranked 12th.
The very next day, a bolt came from the blue. The Supreme Court ruled that Gilani stood disqualified from the Majlis-e-Shoora (parliament) from April 26, when he was convicted for contempt of court and sentenced symbolically. In the time of political crisis, the failed state responded to the situation rather admirably. Within days, the situation became more fluid with another court issuing warrants against a prime ministerial prospect in a pending case. But promptly, an alternative in Raja Pervez Ashraf was found.
Would India, a state where democracy has proved itself, have handled such a situation better?
At present, it could be said with a degree of certainty that it can handle such a situation with democratic precision expected of a political system which has matured. But 37 years ago, when the yet-to-be-tested democratic polity encountered a somewhat similar situation, it had reacted violently to leave a permanent scar on the democratic history of India.
At that time, Jaiprakash Narain had started to fan the perceived popular discontent against Indira Gandhi's government. The PM was in a state of nervousness in deciding the course of action against JP-led agitations, which were quickly spreading to other parts of the country.
At this crucial hour, the Allahabad HC on June 12, 1975, struck a severe blow by annulling Indira's election to Lok Sabha from Rae Bareli. It accepted defeated candidate Raj Narain's charge that she had misused official machinery during elections. She had a 20 day respite, for Justice Jagmohanlal Sinha had stayed his judgment for that period to allow her to appeal in the Supreme Court.
Indira wanted the SC to continue the "absolute stay" on her disqualification to allow her to function as PM unfettered. On June 24, 1975, Justice V R Krishna Iyer saved her from disqualification by staying the HC judgment. The court ordered that she would be allowed to participate in the proceedings of the House as PM but restrained her from voting as an MP.
Indira could not stomach such an affront when she wanted to be regarded as the undisputed leader of the country and of every institution that functioned within its territory. She was not impressed by Justice Iyer's logic — "The judicial approach is to stay away from political thickets and new problems with institutionalized blinkers on, so long as the court methodology remains the same."
Justice Iyer said, "Arguments about political sentiment, political propriety and moral compulsion though relevant at other levels, fall beyond the conventional judicial orbit and the courts have to discriminately shift them while deciding on the grant of stay pending appeal.
"If national crises and democratic considerations, and not mere balance of convenience and interests of justice were to be major inputs in the judges' exercise of discretion, systemic changes and shifts in judicial attitude may perhaps be needed."
The order in today's time would have been perceived as a favourable one. But the manner in which the SSC treated a PM as any other MP did hurt Indira's standing and ego. Treating her case, which she perceived as a national crisis, as an ordinary one increased her internal revulsion towards judiciary, especially the SC.
Just two days after the favourable verdict, Indira declared Emergency and wreaked vengeance on judges.
So, did a failed state like Pakistan handle a politically tricky situation, which concerned the prime minister, better than India, albeit 37 years later?