Jawad Falak |
There was a high level of focus on the much-awaited decision on Panama case in the Supreme Court. Pakistan’s masses waited with baited breath and affixed their sight on the JIT report that was submitted to the Supreme Court. The JIT report all but seemed to have proved the allegations against the ruling family of the government in power.
It appears that the expected despondent position has been postponed for the present moment until the Supreme Court announces its verdict. However, there is little reason for the government to be cheerful. The sword of Damocles still hangs over the PML(N). The contention that it leaders have more than they earn, that the sitting Prime Minister of a country is also an employee of a foreign company, confirmation of fictitious sale/purchase agreements submitted to Honorable Court by all the respondents by the Ministry of Justice, UAE and submission of falsified/tampered declarations of Trusts by the respondents in the SC and before the JIT, as per reports of forensic experts have all but annihilated the moral ground of the ruling party.
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The N League and its allies in other parties, as well as certain intellectuals, have gone on damage control by heaping scorn on the JIT team as well as claiming the entire global Panama Leaks phenomenon was a conspiracy against the Pakistani government. The shields of democracy and CPEC have been utilized by the proponents of such an agenda depending on who is making the assertion. However, the people behind such claims seem to have missed the Public pulse.
The use of democracy or Jamhuriat as a slogan to prolong one’s rule is long past. After the end of military rule and the rise of the PPP government, there were wishes for democracy to flourish in that tenure. Yet now democracy has been replaced with accountability in the hearts of people who voted in the 2013 elections to punish the PPP for its transgressions of corruption. People want ruthless accountability without any further delay and whichever institution ensures it would win the hearts and minds of people.
The details of the JIT report were an exoneration of Khan’s repeated allegations against the Sharif family. He used various means all along to enable the institution of a Supreme Court Bench.
On the crutches
The JIT report was sufficient enough to destroy the moral base of Nawaz Sharif, which was in itself a victory for his nemesis Imran Khan. Today, Khan is not only in a stronger position but has become a focal point of popular dissent against the ruling government; this is also a step closer to his avowed vision of a Naya or New Pakistan. It remains to be seen as to what will be the decision of the court but there is no denying that the opposition leader has greatly benefited from his anti corruption campaign.
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The details of the JIT report were an exoneration of Khan’s repeated allegations against the Sharif family. He used various means all along to enable the institution of a Supreme Court Bench. Political forces, despite agreeing in principle did not fully support him in his drive to hold the Sharif family accountable. Hence, he had to take up the mantle upon himself.
Another major loser has been the Pakistan People’s Party which is the largest opposition party in the parliament. Already besmirched because of the rather dark reputation of its ruling dynasty the Bhutto-Zardari, the PPP seems now to have blundered in not supporting Imran Khan in his campaign. In fact, not only is the PPP viewed as the B team of the ruling N League but Imran Khan’s PTI has become the main Opposition instead of the PPP.
The military appears to have grown stronger with the inclusion of ISI and MI personnel in the JIT. It was seen to be on the defensive after its perceived U-turn on the contentious issues of the Dawn Leaks.
The Media has not been left unscathed. One of the major pro government networks the Jang group was taken to task by the Supreme Court for presenting an erroneous report on the JIT. That was music to the years of Geo’s main rival ARY who had earlier been stung in a case in UK by Geo causing it to end to end its UK operations.
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Major beneficiaries have been the institutions specifically the Judiciary and the military. The military appears to have grown stronger with the inclusion of ISI and MI personnel in the JIT. It was seen to be on the defensive after its perceived U-turn on the contentious issues of the Dawn Leaks. Now after being involved in the JIT, the military has gotten leverage over the PML(N). This can both be a blessing and a curse for the military.
The Judiciary through its judges has emerged as an independent force capable of bringing the most powerful of the land to task. They have also helped to pinpoint weaknesses in various agencies such as the FIA, NAB and others which will be beneficial in the process of strengthening institutions of the state.
In the end, it can be concluded that the decision on the Panama case on 20th April was a major boon for the state of Pakistan as it can help in paving the way for institutional supremacy and stronger accountability.
One of the plausible explanations of the April 20 decision was consolidating the investigative independence of institutions that are delegated with the responsibility of JIT. It can be contended that Nawaz and other accused can’t manufacture money trail on such a large scale and within such a short time. Their optimum defense was the now rejected Qatari letter. But even if they had somehow magically produced a money trail then this evidence would have to be submitted to the SC after every 15 days and there are chances of serious discrepancies between what they had already stated and what they state now. However, that seems to be not the case.
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It can be asserted that the 3 judges decision to establish a JIT carried out by the same institutions whom they regarded as ‘dysfunctional’ during the hearing maybe their attempt to establish an institutional supremacy in Pakistan. In the end, it can be concluded that the decision on the Panama case on 20th April was a major boon for the state of Pakistan as it can help in paving the way for institutional supremacy and stronger accountability.
Jawad Falak is a Research Associate at Center for Strategic and Contemporary Research, Islamabad. He is an M.Phil scholar at National Defence University, Islamabad and writes on events taking shape in the South Asian region. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.