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A Strong Judiciary as a Crisis for Democracy: A ‘Law and Development’ Study from Pakistan

Muhammad Azeem

Abstract

By the late 1990s, international financial institutions prescribed a ‘good governance’ paradigm that sought to empower the judiciary to curb ‘state capture’ by the corrupt political elites of developing countries. Good governance was supposed to act as a midwife to economic development, providing the ‘rule of law’ for the free market reforms of structural adjustment programs that had hitherto failed to provide much success. This article examines the implementation of ‘good governance’ in Pakistan, arguing that empowering the judiciary served to weaken an already weak legislature. The tangible issues of popular political representation and economic redistribution were displaced by the discourses on the control of corruption and the rule of law. Based on this experience, the article encourages a shift in law and developmental theorizing to focus on forms of legislature and democratic rule and a redefined role for the ‘civil society’ within this.


Corresponding author: Muhammad Azeem, LUMS Law School, Lahore University of Management Sciences, LUMS University Lahore, Lahore, Pakistan, E-mail

Acknowledgments

Special thanks to Sara Abraham, Noaman G. Ali, Kasim Tirmizey and Adil Chatta for research help and for reviewing this paper.

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Published Online: 2020-09-28
Published in Print: 2021-01-27

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