Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa expressed his disappointment that the decision regarding the date for general elections was brought to the court instead of being made by the President and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). In the detailed order of Friday’s hearing, the Chief Justice stated that the court was well aware of its constitutional jurisdiction and made sure not to encroach on the jurisdiction of the President or the ECP.
The Supreme Court had directed the ECP to decide on an election date in consultation with the President. On the same day, a delegation from the ECP met with President Arif Alvi and agreed to hold the general elections on February 8. The court also raised concerns about the way the state’s affairs were being managed.
In one of the petitions, the President was named as a respondent, along with a screenshot of his social media post in which he sought the ECP’s opinion on the matter. The court questioned whether the country can be governed based on social media messages. The court also highlighted the misuse of freedom of the press to spread disinformation, acknowledging the important role of the media but criticizing those who use this freedom to undermine democracy.
The court mentioned that decreased confidence in democracy affects people’s engagement and voter turnout, as well as threatening freedom of thought. However, the Supreme Court appreciated those in the media who fulfill their professional duties truthfully. The court also referenced a study by the European Parliament, which found that disinformation has far-reaching implications for human rights and democratic norms worldwide, endangering freedom of thought, right to privacy, right to democratic participation, and various economic, social, and cultural rights. It also undermines citizens’ faith in democratic institutions and promotes digital violence and repression.