WEB DESK: Six months on, the Panama Leaks imbroglio seems to be coming to a head. By the end of first week of next month, the Supreme Court would admit, or refuse, regular hearing of petitions seeking disqualification of Nawaz Sharif as prime minister for his and his family’s alleged investment in offshore companies.
And, three days ahead of that, on November 2, Imran Khan would have shut down Islamabad, or failed to do so. So to say, the dies have been cast. After preliminary hearing of five petitions on Thursday, the Supreme Court issued notices to 11 respondents, including the prime minister and his family members. On the basis of respondents’ statements, which the court said may not be concise or rejoinders to the petitions, it would decide on the maintainability or otherwise of the petitions.
This has been welcomed both by Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan – by Nawaz Sharif because much before it he had announced a commission of retired judges of the apex court ‘with the spirit of bringing actual facts before the nation through a transparent inquiry’. And by Imran Khan because ‘it is a step forward towards making the rulers involved in corruption accountable … justice delayed is justice denied’. But as they say this not much is in evidence to suggest – at least as of now – that they would surrender to the verdict of the court. In fact, what little was known by then is not very salutary: one of the petitioners, Sirajul Haq of Jamaat-e-Islami, has linked the future of democracy to the judiciary’s role. So, no surprise, at the very outset there was Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali’s caution:
“Let it be clear to all that we will never ever enter political arena”. But “we will intervene” should the executive fail to maintain and protect the fundamental rights of citizens – though it dismissed the plea that had sought court’s injunctions against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) sit-in in the Capital.
But as we feel relieved that at long last, the political storm kicked up by the Panama Leaks is going to be over there is no escape from the creeping concern: Why to seize the Capital and not wait for the Supreme Court’s decision. What if the court doesn’t admit his and other four petitions? One would expect him to cancel his plan to lock down nation’s capital now that the Supreme Court has taken up the case. Then there is also the apprehension of violence, a possibility the court appears to apprehend and promised to prevent.
That the PTI is gearing up to seize the city is in evidence. The government is unfazed by the prospect of political instability in the country. It has, however, shown determination at the highest level to foil the November 2 ‘dharna’. Imran Khan has talked of bloodshed and there are also reports that students of a seminary – which was donated some 30 million rupees in the last Khyber Pakhtunkhwa budget – may join the PTI’s ‘dharna’.
And on the part of local administration, the police chief has asked for some Rs 63 million to put in place additional forces to frustrate the PTI lockdown. Should all what PTI is planning to do and the government is determined to foil comes to fruition then it would be a huge national tragedy. It would have cast to the winds the image of higher judiciary as the last resort of justice among the people and parties.
You go to the court and ask for justice but before that is delivered you give your own verdict – that’s a mockery. You raise the ante of street power hoping it would influence the mind of the country’s highest court – how vicious is your commitment to rule of law. Ideally, having welcomed the arbitration by the Supreme Court on the Panama Leaks the second best thing the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf should do is to abandon its plan to seize the Capital. Circa 2016, politics of sit-ins and sit-outs hardly add to the image and popularity of a political party.
Source: Business Recorder