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Eliya Khurshid |

July 28, 2017, dawned to the news of Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, the third time elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, being disqualified for public office by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Sharif acceded to his termination from office after being investigated for corruption and ownership of undeclared offshore companies, details of which were released in the 2016 Panama Leaks scandal.

Read more: A moral judgment?

Sharif apologists in action

His dismissal was followed by social media activists going ‘berserk’ and media channels across the country spiraling into an irrational hysteria. Every networking channel and website witnessed self-assumed intellectual mercenaries dispute the judgment and formulate conspiracy theories’. From America to Israel and Saudi Arabia and the UAE, from the opposition leader Imran Khan to the Pakistani Army and the “Jews”, none were spared the wrath of those apparently rejecting Supreme Court’s decision.

Many expressed shock that ‘not one democratically elected Prime Minister in Pakistan had completed a term since 1947. According to them, democracy had been side lined yet again in a country where the judiciary and the armed forces are never held accountable for their wrongdoings.

Read more: End of Charter of Democracy?

Countering Sharif apologists

Whilst the civilian sovereignty in Pakistan has faced challenges, the country has had flickering bursts of democracy. Wherein lies the argument that not one democratically elected Prime Minister has completed a tenure in office, I would like to set the record straight. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto completed his first tenure (1973-77) and was re-elected in 1977. His government was, however, toppled in a military coup by General Zia-ul-Haq, ironically supported by none other than Nawaz Sharif, who joined President Zia’s cabinet as Finance Minister in 1981.

The politics of that time, with Hussain Haqqani (yes, Him)  their media manager, saw the eighties version of photo shopping Benazir Bhutto’s face juxtaposed on nude female forms in various poses, distributed to the masses with the evergreen slogan “Coca Cola Pepsi, Benazir Taxi”. I am sure many of us can recount these events if we jog down memory lane.

Benazir Bhutto’s two stints in government were mired by political street agitation from PML-N, which demanded her resignation for alleged corruption. The subsequent pressure led to her dismissal by the president twice, and PML-N rode on the chariots of these dismissals into office.

Read more: Nawaz’s disqualification: Will Pakistan descend into chaos?

The politics of that time, with Hussain Haqqani (yes, Him)  their media manager, saw the eighties version of photo shopping Benazir Bhutto’s face juxtaposed on nude female forms in various poses, distributed to the masses with the evergreen slogan “Coca Cola Pepsi, Benazir Taxi”. I am sure many of us can recount these events if we jog down memory lane.

Hypothetically speaking, if we are to consider these arguments, are we not indirectly proposing that NO ONE should be barred from office, despite that fact that they are proven, murderers or rapists? 

Furthermore, the previous PPP government had a complete tenure (2007-2013) except the PM was disqualified by the Supreme Court in a petition filed against by (*queue dramatic music*) the PML-N leadership.

Hypothetically speaking, if we are to consider these arguments, are we not indirectly proposing that NO ONE should be barred from office, despite that fact that they are proven, murderers or rapists?

Making any allowance for Nawaz Sharif now is equivalent to condoning a corrupted liar and not letting him be ousted, primarily because he was democratically elected and he should finish his tenure before judgment is passed, would be a travesty!

Read more: Nawaz Sharif disqualified by Court: UK must act on Sharif’s assets

Deciphering Article 62/63

Another bone of contention is Article 62/63 of the Pakistan Constitution which states that a person shall not be qualified to be elected or chosen as a member of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) unless: (Amongst other requirements)- he is Sadiq and Ameen.

Of fundamental importance is realizing that by virtue of their criminal enterprise, these people can use the money, power, threat or any other means to subvert the political system and control the government of a country. 

First of all, we must grasp the intention of this clause and comprehend its importance as a means to stop criminals being elected to Parliament.

Of fundamental importance is realizing that by virtue of their criminal enterprise, these people can use the money, power, threat or any other means to subvert the political system and control the government of a country.

For instance, had Al Capone been let into politics, he might have become president rather than end up in jail, convicted as a tax evader!

Next, we must highlight the context of the common Arabic terms utilized in the Pakistani Constitution, for example, the Parliament is called Majlis-e-Shura and “truthful and honest” are defined as ‘Sadiq’ and ‘Ameen’.

Read more: The next Prime Minister; a twin dilemma

These terms aren’t some religious mythical ideals that are unattainable

If you read article 62F of the Constitution, a member of parliament.. is sagacious, righteous and non-profligate, honest and ameen, there being no declaration to the contrary by a court of law;

My question to the reactionaries is that Nawaz Sharif has occupied office thrice and he has had a 2/3 majority where he has made several amendments to the Constitution. He decided to keep this clause even though during the 18th amendment there was a big debate to alter these injunctions. 

Thereby clarifying that the specific individual is assumed to be ‘truthful and honest’ unless proven otherwise in a court of law.

In Islamic terms, this is called ‘Husn-e-Zan’ which means you always assume a person to be truthful unless evidence to the contrary exists, which is why a court of law whether Islamic or Secular accepts people’s testimony at face value.

My question to the reactionaries is that Nawaz Sharif has occupied office thrice and he has had a 2/3 majority where he has made several amendments to the Constitution. He decided to keep this clause even though during the 18th amendment there was a big debate to alter these injunctions.

Read more: Aftermath of the Panama verdict

Ironically this is the same clause (62/63) that the leadership of PML-N registered against the previous Prime Minister of Pakistan Yousef Raza Gilani in an attempt to oust him from office in 2012.

Nawaz Sharif being laid off is even more ironic as it seems that the ghost of Zia-up-Haq has come down and plucked his own protégée from office. The same Nawaz Sharif who promised to carry on Zia’s legacy. Poetic justice!

To think that all the other members of the JIT could be steered and the 5 Supreme Court judges could be swayed, to achieve an Anti-Nawaz decision is both preposterous and laughable. This allegation shows that instead of countering the evidence that has been brought forth, PML-N is trying to shoot the messenger by raising such canards. 

Next in line of complaint is the JIT (Joint Investigation team) constituted by the Supreme Court.  In trying to question the credibility of the JIT and Pakistan Supreme Court, various mouthpieces of PML-N have accused members of the JIT of “known ties” to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party. The allegation is that Bilal Rasool, the JIT member from the SECP (Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan) is an estranged nephew of PTI member Miyan Azhar. These accusations were challenged and proven as nothing but exaggerated attempts of undermining the JIT and its work.

If we start rejecting Supreme Court decisions on such flimsy grounds and tenuous “links”, then one can challenge almost any court order.

Read more: Panamagate verdict: what just happened?

To think that all the other members of the JIT could be steered and the 5 Supreme Court judges could be swayed, to achieve an Anti-Nawaz decision is both preposterous and laughable. This allegation shows that instead of countering the evidence that has been brought forth, PML-N is trying to shoot the messenger by raising such canards.

There is no doubt that Nawaz Sharif was caught on a technicality, which fits really well with the spirit of the law.

The World bears witness to lawbreakers such as Al Capone sentenced over tax evasion, though his major crime list was one covered in the blood of innocents.

Nawaz and his cronies have been accused multiple times and embroiled in monumental corruption scandals. There is no denying that he is not an honest and truthful person capable of running for office and representing Pakistan as its grand vizier.

Fortunately, Nawaz Sharif was declared guilty of lesser crimes but I am sure once NAB is finished with their investigations, corruption charges are going to be brought forward.

In conclusion, Nawaz Sharif is not a champion of democracy, he came to power on the shoulders of the military.

Whenever he wasn’t in power, he has accosted the opposition, judiciary & the army and bullied them when he was.

Nawaz and his cronies have been accused multiple times and embroiled in monumental corruption scandals. There is no denying that he is not an honest and truthful person capable of running for office and representing Pakistan as its grand vizier.

Read more: Stop the Fear Mongering – Nawaz Sharif’s Disqualification Is Great…

He was given ample time and allowances to prove in the court of law that he was guilt-free and yet he failed miserably at every instance.

The Supreme Court deliberated and examined all the evidence presented by the JIT and passed judgment to disqualify him from office.

If we consider ourselves as law abiding citizens and unbiased individuals we must set our personal feelings and interests aside and accept the judgment.

Read more: Panama verdict: Victory in a two-dimensional war

Furthermore, we must endeavor to bring about change in our system so that dishonesty and corruption are rooted out from our society.

Eliya Khurshid studied Graphic and Media Design at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London. Her main interests are the Middle-east conflict, current affairs, Pakistani Political and socioeconomic policies. She is also social media campaigner and active participant against corporations such as Monsanto and Bayer. The views expressed in this article are author’s own. It does not reflect Global Village Space Editorial policy.

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