- Is it a mere transition?
After continual hearing of Al-Azizia and Flagship references filed against former prime minister, and PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif for many months, the Accountability Court judge Arshad Malik finally announced what was, perhaps, one of the most (if not the most) awaited judgments as apparently it was supposed to have lasting imprints on Pakistan’s future political course. Particularly, with reference to curbing the menace of corruption that has rotten the entire political, and governance system vertically, as well as horizontally.
As per the verdict announced on December 24, 2018, Nawaz Sharif was convicted on corruption charges in Al-Azizia reference, and was sentenced to seven (7) years of rigorous imprisonment, along with a fine of $25 million, and another Rs1.5 billion. Furthermore, the properties owned by the convict are to be ceased. Contrary to this judgment, however, the same court acquitted Nawaz in the Flagship reference; what NAB has decided to challenge in the high court.
PML-N, seemingly relieved with the acquittal in Flagship reference, is also ready to challenge the court’s verdict against its leader in Al-Azizia reference, and appears to be optimistic in getting relief from the superior judiciary, since the judgment, as per them, is merely based on assumptions rather than solid proof.
For what happens in coming days, the courts of law, and time will be the judge, and the nation will surely be a witness to. Just to refresh our memory though, the Sharif family was successful in getting bailed by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in the Avenfield reference conviction previously courtesy loopholes in the case by the prosecution. While the respected court suspended the imprisonment of Sharif’s alone, there has been neither any progress as of now with respect to ceasing the Avenfield properties, nor in the payment of fines by the convicts as declared in the Accountability Court’s judgment.
A similar situation prevailing in present day’s case would not only raise grave concerns, and questions on NAB prosecution’s competence and transparency, but will also prove to be nothing less than a setback for the PTI led federal government’s accountability driven political thought. Adding fuel to the fire of possible problems for the government, if such a scenario builds, the narrative since day one built by PML-N in particular, and the opposition in general, on the so-called accountability drive actually being political victimisation will gain strength, and perhaps empower the opposition further.
A politically activated opposition can prove to be a nightmare for the government, as there has been less than impressive progress made by the latter on providing relief to the common man, and taking the road towards alleviating the country’s collective problems. As of till date, there seems to have been too much focus on the accountability drive overshadowing the other key performance indicators of the government. If Nawaz, like Avenfield reference, ends up getting relief in Al-Azizia reference too, the political match may very well turn otherwise.
With this said, let us move to the real issue! The real issue is not whether Sharif’s end up getting relief from the legal circle or not. Even in a case otherwise, the real issue lies in the question that will this conviction, and imprisonment prove to be prevalence of justice in this country? Or will it, like the past, merely prove to be yet another transition period for the Sharif’s at the end of the day?
The present day very much draws an analogy to Musharraf’s time when Sharifs were not only at their lowest, perhaps, but also entered into exile, and had little say in the country’s politics. For most of us back then, Sharifs were well out of the game. However, as they say, nothing is final and permanent in politics. And despite all odds, time proved it right! Not only the Sharifs returned to the country, but re-took the political arena with a storm, and was not long after that they made it to the power corridors. Having to flee was, in fact, the military dictator which remains the case till present day.
The present day very much draws an analogy to Musharraf’s time when Sharifs were not only at their lowest, perhaps, but also entered into exile
In light of prevailing circumstances, assuming that Sharif’s do not get a verdict in their favour from the superior judiciary, is it too early for one to pass one’s analysis, and conclude that team Sharif has lost the match? In view of realities, as harsh as they maybe, it might very well is. A first bad half of the match never means that one has lost the match, after all! Our present day PM, Imran Khan, stands his ground on the same belief. Unfortunately, as much as it works for him, may work for his rivals as well.
Those flowing with the tides of emotions, whether in the government or elsewhere, thinking that the road of Sharif, and Bhutto politics ends here, must resort to a reality check from the past, in order to avoid one coming in near future.
Ironically, the best thing about time also happens to be the worst, and vice versa. It changes! For it is on us to keep ourselves prepared to ride the changing tides of time skillfully.
Instead of diverting all energies towards attempts to end the politics of a few, it is imperative to work towards more meaningful, and politically astute goals to serve the country better; and together. For there is no other option that sustains!