Ball in Supreme Court’s court
“Do we have a political structure mature enough to handle the aftermaths of the Supreme Court decision? Will all of the above continue on a positive growth trajectory? Our politicians must brace themselves to answer these tough questions.”
The six member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) set up by the Supreme Court to investigate into the Panama papers finally spoke after two months of questioning and investigating with the submission of its report to the apex court on July 10, 2017. The report accuses the Prime Minister, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif – and his children – of owning wealth beyond their sources of income, and also accuses the PM’s children of signing forged documents in order to obscure the ownership of offshore companies allegedly under their ownership. In light of its report, the JIT has recommended that a reference must be filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against the Prime Minister and his children.
The final report of JIT comprises nine volumes, with each focused on specific aspects of the investigation.
The political rivals of the Sharifs have taken to the opportunity, and once again demanded immediate resignation by the Prime Minister as he has lost moral credibility, and was no longer eligible to uphold the sanctity of the sacred office. The PTI, PPP, PML (Awami), as per their practice, are among the most vocal in this regard. The ruling PML-N, however, has categorically denied the JIT report terming it as a summation of falsified accusations, aimed at misleading the nation.
The political temperature in Islamabad is on a high-rise, with the two main political rivals in the Panama Papers riddle, and its proceedings till date i.e. the PML-N and the PTI once again facing off with each other amid the JIT report, and hurling accusations on one another.
Two out of five judges bench of the apex court hearing the Panama case, had already declared the PM as unfit to hold the office in wake of the accusations on him, while three resorted to the formation of a JIT to probe the matter before passing a judgment on the case.
“The ball is now, once again in the Supreme Court’s court, as the nation looks ahead to the beacon of justice for establishing the supremacy of law across the board at all levels.”
The ball is now, once again in the Supreme Court’s court, as the nation looks ahead to the beacon of justice for establishing the supremacy of law across the board at all levels. The country stands at a critical juncture where our amateur democracy, gaining stability, may be judicialised at the same time.
Democracy going down the drain?
Democracy and its derailing remains the most prominent card played by our political entities. The concept of democracy, however, in no text books of politics refers to a passport to the Lala Land, enabling politicians to pursue their ill-will, and under no circumstances, does it stand above the law.
It has, ironically, remained a political practice in Pakistan to legalise the illegitimate in democracy’s name, and to keep the politics at arm’s length from the law. A practice that has kept the true understanding of democracy’s concept from gaining a strong footing at national level.
Now with the probe into the Panama Papers case, the JIT has remained under fire for becoming a helping hand in derailing the stability gaining democracy in Pakistan, and making way for undemocratic means to attaining political power.
It is imperative for us, at all levels, to understand that democracy does not stand above the law, and establishment of a just political system will, in fact, strengthen, not jeopardise the institution of democracy, because justice and democracy go hand in hand.
The Sharif politics
For over three decades now, the Sharifs have remained an active and a significant part of Pakistani politics, and have reigned over the country thrice. At two instances in the past, the PML-N government under the leadership of the then Prime Minister, Mian Nawaz Sharif, failed to complete its five year tenure, now with the JIT’s report submitted to the Supreme Court finds itself in the same dilemma, with only one year remaining in completing its tenure.
Where the past, as it speaks for itself, has remained host to a strong political hold by the Sharifs, the future stands equally ambiguous now. The possible heir of Nawaz Sharif and the one being looked upon as taking charge of the family’s future political ambitions, Maryam Nawaz is at the center of the entire Panama Papers episode.
The 43 year old, Maryam gained influence in the political circles of PML-N as she played an imperative part in her father’s victory in general elections 2013. Her liberal views have been a major force influencing PM Nawaz to take measures on the ill of honor killings rampant in our society. Maryam Nawaz, according to political allies, is the right one who could re-boost the Sharif brand in Pakistani politics.
Maryam Nawaz, following the submission of JIT report to the Supreme Court, in a tweet, has categorically rejected the report.
Given a condition, that a verdict is given against the Sharif family, can be an unprecedented set back, and will have deepening and lasting repercussions, not just for the Sharif family, but its high-aimed political future as well.
Back with a Bang
The leaked report of JIT has triggered a media trial even prior to the court taking a final decision on the matter. As the report lies with the apex court now, the decision must be left to the supreme judicial authority, whatever the outcome of the entire Panama papers episode may be, it must be considered by all sides as final, and just.
In wake of justice prevailing, guess who is expected to come back to the country with a bang? It is none other than the nightmare of political instability that has haunted our history, and has kept us apart from our much deserved progress and growth.
Good or bad, democracy finally appeared to have found its feet in Pakistani politics over the past decade, resulting in political stability, impressive economic growth and development (though not meeting its targets), a much needed improved security situation, and gaining the once lost confidence of investors, both foreign as well as local. Long term strategic partnerships in the form of CPEC, and Gawadar Port are already underway.
Do we have a political structure mature enough to handle the aftermaths of the Supreme Court decision? Will all of the above continue on a positive growth trajectory?
Our politicians must brace themselves to answer these tough questions.